Fri, Jun 05, 2009
FAA Could Close 20 Regional Facilities
The FAA is moving forward with a
controversial proposal that would shutter 20 weather offices at
regional air traffic control centers, and serve up weather
information from two centrally located facilities in Maryland and
Missouri. The move immediately drew fire from unions representing
both Weather Service employees and air traffic controllers.
Patrick Forrey, president of the National Air Traffic
Controllers Association, said "This is a foolish plan that puts
cost savings ahead of safety. Quite frankly, we cannot believe such
a reckless idea has gotten this far". Dan Sobien, president of the
National Weather Service Employees Organization, added "Air traffic
controllers will no longer have the immediate expertise of an
on-site meteorologist to advise them where to route aircraft
experiencing difficulty when weather conditions play a critical
role in that decision".
According to a report in The Washington Post, a (that's one)
"lead forecaster on duty" would be available at each facility,
responsible for providing information to 10 regional air traffic
control centers by phone or instant message. It was not clear how
many other people would support each lead forecaster.
Paul Takemoto, a spokesman for the FAA, said the Administration
has received the proposal, but has not reviewed it in depth.
He did say the current method of providing weather information was
based on 30 year old technology, and needed to be updated. All of
the affected centers currently have "up-to-the-minute weather from
a variety of sources," he said. That includes Doppler and
If the plan moves forward, the next step would be a 9 month
evaluation period of the two-center system. NOAA says they would be
located in Bethesda, Maryland and Kansas City, Missouri.
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