The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and 13 other organizations are pledging to continue a campaign to increase availability of weather information from potentially hundreds of weather observation stations that the FAA is excluding from the FAA Weather Message Switching Center Replacement (WMSCR). The WMSCR system is a primary national airspace system interface with the National Weather Telecommunications Gateway to distribute textual and certain other information to flight-planning websites and apps.
The groups note that a lack of surface observations is a widespread issue for general aviation, air ambulance services, and other commercial operators that fly VFR. “Attempts to fly by visual reference in instrument condition…is a leading cause of fatal general aviation accidents and the leading cause of weather-related accidents,” they said.
The current budget environment makes the possibility of significantly increasing the number certified automated weather observation sites (AWOS) unlikely, they added, but said a number of lower-level AWOS systems and non-AWOS weather stations are already in operation; and the FAA has agreed they meet aviation standards.
However, the agency in February rejected an appeal by the groups to eliminate some of the barriers to using these stations. “There are hundreds of weather observation systems in operation but unavailable to the pilots who need them,” according to the groups. “These systems could provide accurate and useful weather data.”
The groups in August had urged the FAA to lift its requirement that non-federal weather stations must be AWOS III or better to be included in WMSCR. The groups further asked the agency to establish a new supplementary VFR weather station standard that requires fewer maintenance visits.
In addition, to meet at least AWOS III, the FAA currently requires that weather observation sites be certified, undergo annual recertification, and receive at least three maintenance visits annually.
The groups stressed these requirements are too costly and prohibitive for the centers. “A supplementary weather recertification and maintenance standard would allow the hundreds of non-federal and federal weather systems across the country that are comparable to AWOS-III to be usable to pilots for advisory information,” they said.
Despite the FAA’s denial, the groups this week issued a joint statement stressing they would continue to work to convince the FAA to include the sites.
In addition to AOPA, other organizations signing on to this effort are: Air Medical Operators Association, Alaska Airmen Association, Association of Air Medical Services, Association of Critical Care Transport, Colorado Division of Aeronautics, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, National Association of State Aviation Officials, National EMS Pilots Association, United States Helicopter Safety Team Infrastructure Work Group, Utah Business Aviation Association, and Utah Division of Aeronautics.
منبع : ainonline