New Competence Standards for Aeronautical Meteorological Personnel

The 1st December 2013 represents a critical second deadline along the road towards ensuring a quality management approach to service delivery for all organizations – including those from the private sector – providing meteorological services for international civil aviation.

On this date, all service providers must be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of their respective regulators that there Aeronautical Meteorological Personnel (AMP) are ‘competent’ to perform the job role assigned to them. 

This deadline follows the Quality Management System (QMS) implementation deadline of 15th November 2012 for all service providers. On the third deadline, 1st December 2016, all service providers must be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of their respective regulators that their Aeronautical Meteorological Forecasters (AMFs) also meet the necessary Basic Instruction Package for Meteorologists (BIP-M) qualification requirements approved in May 2011 by the Sixteenth World Meteorological Congress (Cg-16) 1

From the perspective of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), these actions will bring meteorological service providers in line with other providers of services to international civil aviation. ICAO has introduced the quality management approach as a way of ensuring a high quality of service provision and improving the safety and efficiency of international civil aviation.

Towards a competence-based system

Under the conditions laid out in the working arrangements between WMO and ICAO, WMO is responsible for setting the educational requirements for personnel involved in supplying meteorological services to international air navigation (see ICAO Annex 3 Para 2.1.5). For many years, WMO Members had used the publication, WMO-No. 258, Guidelines for the education and training of personnel in meteorology and operational hydrology, Volume I: Meteorology as the basis for defining these requirements.

Whilst widely used, these guidelines were not integrated into the WMO Technical Regulations. They, therefore, did not constitute an international Standard as defined in the ICAO/WMO working arrangements. The issue came to the fore with the release in 2002 of the Fourth Edition of WMO publication No. 258. The publication made implicit link between the fact that the forecasting “role” should be discharged “only” by a “meteorologist”, and that in order to be classified as a “meteorologist” it was necessary to have a university degree “or equivalent.” At the same time, WMO and ICAO were recommending the introduction of a QMS requirement for aviation meteorological service providers. The combination of these two issues raised many questions and concerns for those WMO Members for which the National Meteorological and Hydrological Service (NMHS) were responsible for providing services to international civil aviation.

Over the ensuing eight years, various expert and task teams within the WMO Commission for Aeronautical Meteorology (CAeM) and the WMO Education and Training Programme addressed the issue of how best to assure the education and training of AMP within a QMS environment. Following discussions at the WMO Executive Council in 2009, the consensus was to move from a classification framework based on (academic) qualifications towards a competence-based system related to specific job tasks.

In line with the expectations of ICAO that the relevant meteorological science be of a high standard, a qualification requirement was maintained for AMFs in addition to the new overarching competence requirements. Competencies essentially define the operational ‘day to day’ knowledge, skills, experience, behaviours and performance characteristics required to perform a particular job role. Qualifications, meanwhile, provide evidence that an individual has the underpinning knowledge and skills that can then be applied in the operational environment.

In reviewing and revising the education and training advice for Members, Cg-16 decided to phase out WMO-No. 258 and replace it with the publication, WMO-No. 1083, Manual on the implementation of education and training standards in Meteorology and Hydrology, Volume I – Meteorology. This publication builds on WMO-No. 49, Technical Regulations, Volume I: General Meteorological Standards and Recommended Practices, and also becomes effective on 1st December 2013. The WMO classification scheme for meteorologists and hydrologists and their technician equivalents still exists, but it is now part of a wider framework that includes both qualifications and competencies. It is up to each Member to determine for itself which particular job roles it wishes meteorologists or meteorological technicians to undertake. As the WMO technical commissions continue developing the job competencies within their respective domains, they will set the minimum competence requirements for these job roles2.

The new competence and qualification framework is very flexible. It is designed to allow Members to adapt it to their specific national circumstances and requirements. It will, however, be necessary for Members to document and keep under review the changes that they have made to the generic competencies in light of varying requirements. In countries where an external Meteorological Inspectorate is established, resorting to either the Civil Aviation Authority or the relevant section of the Ministry of Transport, it is highly recommended to share and discuss these requirements with the Met Inspectorate to seek their endorsement of the implementation approaches being taken.

Implications of the competence decision

WMO Members face many challenges as they prepare for the 1st December 2013 deadline.  Fortunately, there is a wealth of information and expertise on which they can draw through the resources and guidance provided by CAeM at (click on “Regulatory and Reference Material” and then log in as “guest” to access). Members are also starting to realise that the competence requirements and associated challenges for personnel are actually just a subset of the overarching implementation of the QMS, which requires the identification and documentation of processes and procedures, a stronger user focus and continual improvement. The introduction of competence Standards for AMP has therefore, in effect, facilitated the mapping and documentation of local processes, practices and priorities to a globally overarching framework.

For Members and meteorological training institutions and programmes, it is now essential to develop and maintain good records of the education and training programmes that they run, personnel attendance and records of which courses are assessed and how. Auditors from national regulators and the ICAO Safety Oversight audits will be looking for evidence that personnel are competent and qualified within the scope of the job roles that they undertake. They will want to be satisfied that the service providers have processes in place for checking and documenting this evidence in line with QMS principles. Members should, therefore, be asking training providers to map the learning outcomes of the training programmes that they provide to the underlying knowledge, skills and behaviours of the generic or national competence scheme.

Developing and running a competence assessment and training programme requires significant resources. However, as this is an international civil aviation service provision requirement, Members can and should recover these costs from the aviation industry.

Preparing for 1st December 2013

Following the joint Aviation Technical Conference organized in April 2013 by WMO Regional Associations III and IV in Curacao, a short document titled Competencies: 7 Steps towards conformance was developed and circulated through CAeM. The seven steps3 provide a framework for meteorological service providers for implementing competencies within a QMS framework:

  1. Access the top-level WMO AMP competence Standard statements;
  2. Designate a team and a leader to carry out the competence assessment processes;
  3. Map the top-level competence Standards to the national requirements and have them endorsed by the country’s Meteorological Authority or Met Inspectorate;
  4. Develop and document the assessment process;
  5. Trial the assessment process;
  6. Undertake the assessment process and document the results; and
  7. Review and document the process.

1st December 2013

From 1st December 2013 onward, all organizations – again, including those from the private sector – providing meteorological services for international civil aviation will be expected to be able to provide evidence to their national regulators that, within the scope of the tasks assigned to them, their AMP satisfy the competence Standards. If, by this date, the service provider cannot give the necessary assurances to its regulator, then it will be the responsibility of the national regulator to file the difference (non-compliance) with ICAO, against ICAO Annex 3, provision 2.1.5. It is, therefore, essential for the aviation meteorological service provider and the national regulator to have ongoing discussions and to agree on what level and type of assurance is required. 

If such discussions do not take place, and AMP competence is not assured, and an ICAO difference is not filed, then there could be legal ramifications for the service provider, especially if an international civil aviation weather-related incident were to occur. When filing a difference, States should at the same time provide ICAO with plans and timelines detailing how and when the non-compliance issue will be resolved.

1st December 2016

By 1st December 2016, all providers of meteorological services to international civil aviation will be expected to provide evidence to assure their national regulators that, within the scope of the tasks assigned to them, those AMF providing such services satisfy the qualification requirements as described in WMO-No. 49, Volume I. That is, that their AMF have, as concerns the tasks assigned to them, successfully met the learning outcomes specified in the BIP-M4. For those elements of the BIP-M not considered relevant, it will be necessary for the service provider to produce evidence as to why this is the case to the satisfaction of the regulator.

A global minimum requirement

The competence requirements for AMP that come into force on 1 December 2013 bring meteorological service providers in line with the other service providers to international civil aviation. Some meteorological service provides, typically those associated with civil aviation, have introduced annual or even six monthly licensing requirements, thus may find this implementation somewhat less strict; however, this is a transition from a “non-regulation” to a regulation regime that all Members should be able to meet.  The competence requirements also provide a global “template”

1 - Note, that there are no qualification requirements for Aeronautical Meteorological Observers (AMO).

2 - Further information on the status of competence development across the commissions is available at

3 - Further information and resources for each of these steps is available at

4 - Guidance material relating to BIP-M learning outcomes can be found in WMO publication number 1083

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