NWS Submits new plan to FAA to Enhance Aviation Safety
(March 26, 2010) The NWS delivered a plan to the FAA last week, designed to enhance aviation safety by providing 24/7 coverage to FAA Air Traffic Controllers for flight assists while maintaining face to face contact between NWS Meteorologists and Controllers during the busiest hours of the day. The new plan maintains staffing at CWSUs for 16 to 18 hours a day and places a hotline phone at supervisor stations to ring the Aviation Weather Center for flight assists at night. A new 24/7 forecast desk will be placed at the AWC and staffed with eight forecasters. In addition to providing flight assists at night, this desk will be responsible for the Collaborative Weather Impact Product and coordinating aviation forecasts around the country to maintain consistency. The plan also calls for three forecasters to be placed at the FAA’s Command Center for consultative support to increase the efficiency of the National Air Space.
This plan comes on the heels of an announcement of a National Weather Service experiment that will increase the staff levels in New York, Chicago and Atlanta WFOs to 13 operational forecasters. These forecasters will be responsible for two hour TAFs which will coincide with FAA two hourly briefs. These forecasters will also work closely with the local CWSU to provide new products and services to the Centers, TRACONs and Towers. Early results from the New York Area show astounding success in decreasing weather related aviation delays by 50 percent. “My hat is off to the NWS and Director Hayes,” stated Dan Sobien NWSEO President. “For a couple hundred thousand dollars a year, this plan saves the American public billions of dollars every year in lost productivity and fuel costs while helping the ecology. Most importantly it makes flying safer.” Sobien encourages the expansion of this plan to all WFOs with OEP airports and hopes the NWS will examine other programs where similar cost versus benefits could be realized. “Marine and Fire Weather programs could also use an influx of resources for a little remodeling,” concluded Sobien.
The plan was submitted to the FAA in place of a plan that was expected to be delivered in December 2009, calling for a test consolidation of CWSUs from 21 to two. The NWSEO coordinated the fight against CWSU consolidation with many aviation groups, as well as, members of Congress who strongly opposed the idea. “The voices of reason prevailed and safer air travel is the result,” stated John Stansfield, Steward of the Boston CWSU and longtime advocate for CWSUs.