02 December 2005

Meteo - Does the FAA really care about weather and aviation safety?

Over a couple of weeks ago, while I was working, I noticed that one of the automated observing systems at one of the airports was reporting heavy snow. I had to laugh. This one station has always been known to us as what happens when somewhere in the great bureacracy doesn't really care about the accuracy of the weather reporting. Just to let you now what was happening, the AWOS was reporting a temperature of 48 degrees, a dewpoint temperature of 46 degrees and heavy snow. Obviously, when the temperature is 16 degrees F above freezing, it is very unlikely that it would be snowing, especially when the dewpoint temperature is 14 degrees above freezing. This has been going on for the past 6 years that I have been at Gaylord, MI.

So I begin to think, does the FAA really know what is going on? Do they care? As a scientist and someone who can be kind of anal about measurements, I think that this is pretty lax and uncalled for. I realize that there are problems with funding and priorities, but this really does negligent over the long haul.

Now after our union stewerd came back from the nation NWSEO convention, there is a push by the upper management in the FAA to stop using the NWS for aviation forecasts and to contract it out to the private sector. The general aviation users and the lower level air traffic controllers think that it would be a mistake, so what is going on in the FAA? Is the bureaucracy just too big to know that some of the things they are proposing will jepoardize safety?
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