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METEOROLOGICAL COST RECOVERY IN

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					            METEOROLOGICAL COST RECOVERY IN FRANCE


Introduction and context

In France, the government department responsible for aviation services,
including the meteorological service, is the Direction Générale de l’Aviation
Civile (DGAC), which is also the officially designated Meteorological Authority
according to Annex 3 to the Chicago Convention. Météo-France, being the
French NMS, is a public agency under the Ministry in charge of Transport and
is considered as a meteorological service provider.

The regulations known as “the Single European Sky” regulations (SES), are
applicable in France. Air navigation services, including meteorology, must be
provided in compliance with the SES regulations. Météo-France has been
SES certified and is now allowed to provide meteorological services to air
navigation of the civil sector. Météo-France is also responsible for service
provided to military forces and works in close cooperation with the Ministry of
Defense. The costs corresponding to the military services are covered under
the budget allocated to Météo-France by the State.

Following the SES regulations, the meteorological services may be provided
under different rules. France, as many other EU countries, decided to charge
the aeronautical users for the full cost of the provided air navigation services
(Air Traffic Control, Aeronautical Information, Meteorology…), including a
share of core costs where appropriate. For example, the air navigation
charges in France amounted to 1471 M€ in the 2006 Financial Law, of which
77 M€ (5,23%) were allocated to Météo-France, which represent 23.5% of its
budget.

The State (DGAC) requests Météo-France to provide the meteorological
services which are necessary to ensure the safety of air navigation, within a
specified airspace (perimeter of the service) and a given set of services. That
whole service is charged to air navigation through the general mechanism
approved by ICAO. The share of meteorology in the airline charges is
covering the full cost of the service, including a share of Met core costs.
According to SES regulations, Météo-France must justify the Met costs
charged to air navigation through airline charges. The manner the associated
MET costs are assessed by Météo-France is described hereafter.

Outside the perimeter defined by the State, Météo-France does provide
various services to all kinds of users, among which aeronautical users, on a
purely commercial basis, with the constraint to be compliant with the SES
regulations for services which are defined by the State as necessary for the
air navigation safety. The present text does not describe the financial aspects
of the service provided by Météo-France to air navigation on a commercial
basis.
The SES regulations request the transparency of the costs charged to air
navigation by the State and to associate aeronautical users in the definition of
those costs. This transparency and consultation process is ensured by a close
cooperation between Météo-France and the Aviation Authority DGAC through
recurring meetings on technical and financial matters, involving the users
also. Periodical formal meetings are organized within the Conseil Supérieur
de la Météorologie (CSM), an entity presided over by the Ministry in charge of
Transport. The aeronautical commissions of this CSM use to consider the
needs of all the users including commercial aviation, general aviation, sporting
aviation (gliders, ultra-light motorized, balloons, etc.); the users have the
possibility to express “wishes” to which Météo-France must provide an answer
(which may be negative but justified).

Meteorological services provided to air navigation for safety
   considerations

Meteorological services for aviation provided by Météo-France cover the
airspace under the responsibility of France; it comprises mainly the following
items derived from ICAO Annex 3 requirements:
•      En-route meteorological forecasting and warning services for both
international and national flights;
•      Provision of low-level Significant Weather Charts for general aviation;
•      Aerodrome meteorological services;
•      Provision of delivery system facilities;
•      Provision of aviation-specific research and development;
•      Provision of a Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) and Tropical
Cyclone Advisory Centre (TCAC) as agreed with ICAO.

Moreover, some additional data and services beyond ICAO Annex 3
requirements were defined by the State as being necessary for air navigation
safety.

The comprehensive list of all the data and products which are necessary for
air navigation safety is given in annex to the SES certificate of Météo-France.

The DGAC has defined the perimeter where the Met service has to be
delivered (and therefore charged to air navigation through airline charges, and
then their costs properly assessed) as being (including overseas):
       The list of aerodrome published yearly in the French Official Journal
       All ATC and Aeronautical Information units serving the Flight
       Information Region under the responsibility of France.
As stated above, the cost of the service delivered outside that perimeter is
provided on a commercial basis, and therefore not charged through air
navigation charges.
Costs and access policy

From an accounting point of view, Météo-France is serving three main
categories of users:
      State services (mainly civil defense and safety), financed by the
      national budget / national taxes (58.6% of the 2006 Météo-France
      budget)
      Air navigation sector under safety considerations, financed through the
      Met share of air navigation charges (23.5%)
      The commercial sector, fully financed by the commercial income
      (14.8%) and which shall not be subsidized from the State budget
The basis for allocating Met costs between user groups is an analytical
accounting system that ensures an equitable allocation of costs.

Given that State air navigation products and services are prepaid through air
navigation charges by the aeronautical users’ community, the policy of
Météo-France is to restrict to aeronautical users only the access of those
products. Being prepaid, those products and services seem to be “free of
charge” for those users and their use, including the redistribution, is free and
unrestricted within the aviation community.

When facilities accessible from home such as fax servers, telematics servers
or Internet are available, access to services provided by Météo-France are
controlled and restricted by the use of an access code. The cost of delivery
provided under this context can be recovered on a global basis through
agreements with users’ federations, or on an individual basis through
individual billing. Nevertheless, the main services provided are paid through
aeronautical charges.

Met costs assessment

The analytical accounting system adopted by Météo-France is based on a
functional model making the distinction between:
       “Upstream” activities, with associated costs, for which an appropriate
       share has to be allocated to aviation
       Activities dedicated to air navigation services, with associated direct
       costs fully allocable to aviation.

It is necessary to parameterize the “upstream” costs. An in-depth analysis of
the upstream activities was made which allowed identifying approximately 500
“homogeneous” kinds of activities distributed over 6 levels. The costs
associated with each activities at a given level are distributed to the
“downstream” levels.

The cost allocation can be direct when there is a obvious and unambiguous
link between the activity and the cost. It is indirect through a cascade of
allocations based on allocation keys towards downstream levels in the
following areas:
        general infrastructures and their logistics; the allocation keys have
        been based on the surface of the buildings / facilities
       general management; the allocation keys are based on the number of
       staff dedicated to that task
       training; allocation also based on staff
       support costs including:
           o data processing; allocation keys are based on computer hours
               allocated to each sector of activity for the mainframes; the costs
               of distributed data processing are allocated according to the
               staff of each unit
           o telecoms; each telecom link has been analyzed in detail in
               order to allocate costs according to the relevant customer;
       cost of meteorological general purpose activities serving a variety of
       applications and which cannot be allocated to a single user; the
       allocation keys are based on operational considerations, according to
       the nature of the activity; for air navigation services:
           o the allocation keys for observation, general forecast and
               general production is based on the ratio between the number of
               staff dedicated to air navigation services and the total number
               of staff involved in user’s productions.
           o the allocation key for the cost of climatology is the ratio between
               the number of Met stations at airports and the total number of
               observing stations in the main (declared as part of the RBSN)
               network operated by Météo-France
           o R&D activities are allocated to air navigation with the same
               keys than for observation, general forecast and general
               production, except when the R&D has obviously no link with air
               navigation (climate change, hydrology, agrometeorology, urban
               meteorology, etc…).

Once the model is parameterized with the appropriate allocation keys and
with the actual expenses supported by Météo-France, it gives the global Met
cost of the service provided to air navigation by Météo-France. Some
adjustments remain to be made in order NOT to allocate to air navigation
charges the costs of the services provided to general aviation and services
which are under the responsibility of the State (technical enquiries and State
flights).

As the regulations request to separate Met costs between en-route and
terminal costs, the distribution is made according to ICAO Doc9161. Core
costs are also computed by withdrawing direct costs from the total Met cost.

Conclusion

The above method has now been used for several years by Météo-France
and the results are formally presented to the aeronautical users twice a year:
       At the beginning of the year for the executed budget of the previous
       year
       At the end of the year for the provisional budget of next year.
Users have never expressed to date any complain regarding the method used
to assess the Met costs charged to air navigation.

				
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