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Bad weather at ZBAA yesterday not reported in TAF/METAR?

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Bad weather at ZBAA yesterday not reported in TAF/METAR?

Old 12th Jun 2011, 02:41
  #1 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Feb 2006
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Age: 40
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Bad weather at ZBAA yesterday not reported in TAF/METAR?

On a positioning flight VHHH - ZBAA yesterday we were put into an en route hold for an hour (they initially said three hours!) because of bad weather in ZBAA. I've found some historic TAFs / METARS and this weather isn't reported anywhere. I know it happened, but am surprised that the authorities decided that it was "Not in China's interest" to tell people.

Today a colleague is on a similar flight. Again the TAF/METAR doesn't say anything about bad weather. However he's just been told that they're being delayed because of weather.

Does anyone know
1. Why this meteo information isn't published (shirly it endangers aircraft)
2. How the airline ascertained the information.
welliewanger is offline  
Old 12th Jun 2011, 05:13
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2005
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1) It's CHINA
2) HKG, Guangzhou, Wuhan ATC etc

They have great train set up there, but their train drivers are S&$t, WRT airport facilities, radar, ATC etc

Feather Boa is offline  
Old 12th Jun 2011, 05:53
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It may not necessarily have been the weather at PEK itself. The Chinese have a very rigid, Soviet-style centrally controlled civil route structure and because of their paranoia (they think the world wants to spy on them) they frown on large weather deviations from the set routes. Therefore they will close a whole route or sections thereof if part of the route is weather-affected. This greatly affects a system which is flat out handling the required traffic on a good day!

On a very recent PEK flight (after one hour's ground delay) we were told 'enter left hand orbit until further notice'; forty minutes later we were on our way, then there were further delays and then a re-route. Weather was not affecting PEK itself at that time but it was obviously affecting the usual route.

I have been flying in and over China for over two decades and the airports, aids and controllers have improved out of sight (old hands may remember the BFO NDB's, dreadful English, Russian procedures and the squealing radios). Those responsible for civil aviation are trying their best. But after having rebuilt the country by military revolution, the PLA still call the shots.

Therefore China is the reverse of most of the world, the military have the wide open spaces and the civvies have the 'corridors'. China may regard itself as the up-and-coming global economic power, but until this gets sorted out, airline travel in the country and the associated business development will be unreliable at best.

I'm sure my passengers who were over three hours late would agree.

Last edited by Captain Dart; 12th Jun 2011 at 06:05.
Captain Dart is offline  
Old 12th Jun 2011, 07:58
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: I don't really hate them...I just miss flight attendants.
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C'mon mate, this cannot be your first trip into red Chinese limbospace.

Shhhhh. The PLAAF must've been running some sort of exercise (where they fly in a straight line, every move controlled by some guy on the ground--very tactical gents) and used the smokescreen of "weather" as a means of clearing the airspace.

Hint: a few hours of Rosetta Stone Mandarin and you may be able to pick up some tidbits while they incessantly bullshit with each other...on guard.

FR8R H8R is offline  
Old 12th Jun 2011, 20:35
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Hahaha, you guys are absolutely right. I've only been operating here for 18 months, glad I haven't had to go through what Capt Dart has experienced. Even as it is now I find myself shouting at ATC!

But you have both assumed that the "weather" was a smoke screen for the military. But I have reports from other pilots on the ground that the weather was for real. Genuine thunder storms with horizontal rain. So why didn't they bother reporting it in the METAR?
welliewanger is offline  
Old 12th Jun 2011, 22:59
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Join Date: Sep 2010
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Because they don't want anyone to know that everything is not perfect in red China. It never rains or floods. No landslides or cyclones. Drought? That is a foreign media concoction. There is no traffic problem or pollution in Beijing either. Earthquakes do not happen and no one looks at evil western pornography on the internet.
It is difficult to get the truth there. Period. And the PLAAF DO control everything that happens in the sky.
Try not to shout at ATC because they have their proverbial hands tied. Just go with the flow or you'll blow a gasket.
FR8R H8R is offline  
Old 13th Jun 2011, 04:34
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Well-said Captain Dart! Anyone who has only come on the scene in the last dozen years has no idea how primitive the air transport system was in China. It really was the Wild West, aviation wise. They have really come a long way and do a good job within the constraints they have to deal with i.e. traffic growth and military control of so much airspace. Some of the shrill bleating from a few colleagues who really should know better is just plain embarrassing.

The delays due weather are easily understood with only a little thought. Take for example Beijing, now one of the world’s busiest airports. When the runways are closed for 30 minutes due weather the 80 arrivals an hour just keep on coming, the flow does not stop. What do you do with those 40 delayed aircraft? Put them into a pattern at VYK? I doubt there is even enough spare talk time on the radio frequencies to handle all the extra traffic, let alone controlling and airspace capacity. Throw in the backlog of departures wanting runway time, along with diversions around weather in the FIR and it is easily seen that it gets very, very messy very quickly! The solution is to hold aircraft that are already airborne in parts of the ATC system that can handle it i.e. in Guangzhou or Wuhan airspace. Because runway capacity is already saturated it will take hours to clear up the backlog.

So next time they put you in a hold 2 hours out of Beijing, call for a nice cuppa, do the crossword and take comfort that at least the thunderstorms will have cleared up (hopefully) by the time you get to your destination.

PS the thunderstorms were forecast that afternoon
Midnight Oil is offline  
Old 13th Jun 2011, 08:11
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PS the thunderstorms were forecast that afternoon
Come on Midnight, don't let the facts get in the way of a good story - shame on you!

Steve the Pirate is offline  
Old 13th Jun 2011, 09:28
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Spot on STP and The Oils, TAFs for 11th and 12th had TS/CB on them for both the 9 and 24 hour periods.

If you are flying into China in summer with anything less than an hours extra gas and an alternate that is WIDE OPEN, you are asking for trouble. It really is not a lot different to HK in that while the TAF is for 5 nm, any TS/CB in the CTA will create havoc for ATC trying to sort out the conflicting requirements of brave pilots and cautious pilots. The extra "gotcha" in PEK is that ATC will close an entire airway if they even think TS make it a problem

From experience, take whatever fuel you can to avoid a diversion. At any of the closer airports around ZBAA or ZSPD you are in the aeronautical equivalent of Bum **ck Idaho, all the priority will go to overflying/enroute aircraft. Plus your ground support will be minimal to non-existent, and all of it in Chinese

The advice to take LOTS of fuel and order a cup of tea when ATC tells you something absurd is priceless, it will all change in half an hour. Just make sure you are still in the game when it does
old rope is offline  
Old 13th Jun 2011, 10:20
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More than 8" of rain and over 100 people killed in floods. I think they had weather problems.
BusyB is offline  
Old 14th Jun 2011, 01:56
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: India
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Pardon my poor Cantonese but like an old ZGGG ATC friend once opined : " chun hai keh sei gweilos "

Assumptions, disinformation and downright hateful nonsense. Are you guys for real? There were massive thunderstorms over most parts of Central and South East China of late. They had severe flooding and storms all over the other airports around ZBAA. Most of their airspace were clogged up with planes deviating and also many planes diverting through their already congested airways.

Even if the wx at ZBAA looked fine, there were many planes diverting to ZBAA and ZBTJ from the other airports. Also there were backlogs of flights delayed from the wx affected airports all making their way to ZBAA once the storms cleared and the Chinese ATC seemed to have given these flights priority. As such other flights had to suffer " ATC hold " due weather.

Same thing happen in the US or anywhere else. When bad weather happens over Philly or KBOS, we had to wait for 2 over hours in JFK because ATC gave priority to diverting aircrafts eventhough JFK wx was fine!
Akali Dal is offline  
Old 14th Jun 2011, 22:03
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Aye aye Akali, all this China bashing by ungrateful gwelos. Yeah right!

I once had an almost 3 hour wait at end of RW 14R at Chicago on a VMC day because aircrafts were diverting in droves from Milwaukee, Minneapolis, etc. Not a wimp from the yanks but for asome short delay in the Orient they howl in packs.
gerago is offline  
Old 15th Jun 2011, 01:59
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Join Date: Jun 2007
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delay not determined

Well said Capt Dart etal

A long time ago the Old China Hand I was working with noticed my vexed look during a delay and said "the only one getting an ulcer here is you, bring a good book".

Good advice indeed!

However, even the experienced individuals in the thread would agree that hearing the phrase "delay not determined" and would have to admit to the thought that while the delay is not determined, what you have in the tanks is!
kay lo dee is offline  

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