From this storm season, Airport Operations is no longer issuing lightning warnings solely through communication channels such as radio, telephone or e-mail. An additional audiovisual alarm system increases safety for apron staff that do not have a telephone or radio close by – or simply do not hear them.
When operations assistant Christian Langer sits at his desk in the Airport Operations Control Center, he is not only interested in the movements of aircraft and vehicles on the apron. He and the other operations assistants always keep an eye on how the weather is developing as well – especially in the summer months. This time is high season for storms, especially this year: In June 2021 alone, there was thunder and lightning at Munich Airport on 14 days, and they occurred with roughly the same frequency in July, too. Each time, this poses a danger to everybody who works on the apron.
“It is part of our duties to issue warnings as soon as storms approach,” explains Langer. To that end, he and his colleagues monitor the weather patterns around the airport using special software: In what direction is a storm cell moving and at what speed? Where will the first lightning strikes hit and with what density? They are assisted by the German Weather Service, which issues an initial storm warning as soon as lightning activity is registered within 20 kilometers. Airport Operations shares this with airlines, the fire service and other partners by e-mail and telephone and publishes it in the UDS monitor system. When there are lightning strikes within ten kilometers of the airport, the same group of recipients is sent a preliminary warning for lightning.