New Bangkok airport receives world class AWOS

New Bangkok airport receives world class
The Second Bangkok International Airport (SBIA) opened on
September 28, 2006. Located 30 kilometers east of Bangkok,
the airport handled more than 40 million passengers in 2007.
One of the world’s largest airports, SBIA is also home to one of
the world’s most sophisticated automated weather observing
systems (AWOS).
World class AWOS
The Thai Meteorological Department (TMD) was responsible for developing
the airport’s weather observation network. The project was undertaken in
accordance with World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and International
Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards. The crucial task of building a
state of the art AWOS was important not only in order to provide accurate
and reliable weather data for airlines and ground service providers, but also
for public services outside of the airport vicinity. It was designed not only to
maintain safety of operations but also for effectiveness through automatic
Data availability ensured
In large-scale weather systems like this one, the most important components
are duplicated. Systems must run continuously without interruption – even
during normal maintenance. This is possible due to the AWOS’ modular design
and flexibility: data can be selected from a primary or backup source at any
time, and in most cases selection is performed automatically.
“For the SBIA project, we
are glad that Vaisala is the
winning contractor since
we are aware that Vaisala
produces some of the
highest quality and most
reliable meteorological
equipment available.”
Suparerk Tansriratanawong,
Director General of the Thai
Meteorological Department.
A Vaisala AWOS, a wind
shear alert system and a
thunderstorm warning system
were installed at SBIA
The most critical components
were duplicated to guarantee
maximum safety and
Reliable and accurate weather
measurement throughout
the SBIA to support airport
operations, airliners, ground
crew and travellers
A solid maintenance plan and
easy access to sensor sites
made maintenance easy while
minimizing downtime
Vaisala’s scalable and modular
solution architecture allows
easy expansion and integration
of new elements
Thai Meteorological
Department needed a reliable,
accurate and automated
meteorological system for the
new airport to guarantee safety
and efficiency and to support
increased air traffic
The meteorological system
needed to provide accurate
and reliable data in a timely
manner and according to WMO
and ICAO standards
System downtime and
maintenance had to be
Comprehensive visibility
and wind measurements
Lightning detection to
improve ground safety
Prevailing visibility measurement
is a challenge for large airports like
SBIA where the observation area is
vast and ringed with tall buildings.
Visibility is automatically observed
in the vicinity of the meteorological
station as well as on both runways,
with the use of transmissometers
and forward scatter sensors. Five
separate visibility sensors were
installed for each runway while
cloud data is gathered at the ends of
both runways. Cloud height, amount
and coverage are based on the latest
20-minute history.
To protect against the numerous
thunderstorms that occur during
the May-October wet season,
a four-sensor Vaisala lightning
detection network was installed in
the vicinity of SBIA in 2005. A Vaisala
Thunderstorm Warning System is
in use at the airport’s operations
center. It combines data from the
lightning detection network and
electric field mills, which are used to
monitor the potential for lightning.
The raw data is transformed into a
comprehensive solution designed
to improve ground safety and
operational efficiency in baggage
handling, refueling and flight
In addition to sophisticated
visibility measurement, SBIA boasts
comprehensive wind and windshear
alert systems. The two main runways
are equipped with an extensive set
of redundant wind sensors in the
middle as well as at both ends. Wind
is measured in 19 different locations
around the airport to promote safe
take-offs and landings. The project
also included a full scale Phase 3
windshear alert system, on license to
Vaisala from the US National Center
of Atmospheric Research.
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Plans for expansion
Although SBIA is already one of
the biggest airports in the world, it
is operating close to capacity and
ambitious expansion plans have
been set in motion. The expansion
involves building a midfield terminal
and a third runway, expected to
begin by the end of 2009. Vaisala’s
scalable and modular solution
architecture allows easy expansion
and integration of new elements
when needed.
Ref. B210869EN-A ©Vaisala 2009
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