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Final FAA-Weather Service Decision Delayed Again

By Ed O'Keefe

The Federal Aviation Administration has extended by one month a deadline for the National Weather Service to deliver recommendations on changing the FAA's use of government meteorologists at its air route traffic control centers.

In an "all-hands" e-mail to NWS employees today, director Jack Hayes wrote that, "Before we proceed with delivery of our final response to FAA, the new NOAA Administrator needs an opportunity to address the CWSU matter. FAA has agreed to extend our response deadline for another 30 days." (Full e-mail after the jump.)

The Bush administration had hoped to resolve the controversial matter in its final days, asking NWS to present alternatives to the current system of basing at least four meteorologists at each of the 21 air route traffic control centers. Realizing a resolution was unlikely before Inauguration Day, FAA in late December extended NWS' deadline until today.

"During the Senate confirmation hearing for NOAA Administrator nominee Dr. Jane Lubchenco, aviation weather support activities were raised," Hayes wrote in his e-mail. "Dr. Lubchenco was encouraged to work with FAA to resolve any outstanding issues."

Indeed Senate Commerce, Science and Transportration Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) asked Lubchenco during her Feb. 12 confirmation hearing to help try to resolve the FAA-NWS dispute upon her confirmation.

"I don't know the details of this issue," she told Rockefeller. "I appreciate that it is an important one and I would look into it."

NWS Global Announcement

Request for Posting By: Jack Hayes Director, National Weather Service

Subject Line: Message from Jack Hayes: CWSU Update

Distribution: NWS All Hands

I want to let you know how we're proceeding on the final response to the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Center Weather Service Unit (CWSU) Requirements Document. The response was due to FAA on February 23.

During the Senate confirmation hearing for NOAA Administrator nominee Dr. Jane Lubchenco, aviation weather support activities were raised. Dr. Lubchenco was encouraged to work with FAA to resolve any outstanding issues.

Before we proceed with delivery of our final response to FAA, the new NOAA Administrator needs an opportunity to address the CWSU matter. FAA has agreed to extend our response deadline for another 30 days.

I will continue to keep you informed.

--Jack

By Ed O'Keefe  | February 23, 2009; 5:10 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Turf War  
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Comments

As a user of pilot services for weather, I can only say the FAA's proposed decision is TERRIBLE. All pilots and the traveling public rely on this great organization, the NWS, which other than the Coast Guard, was the ONLY Federal organization that got the Katrina fiasco "right." Having NWS forecasters with LOCAL knowledge is critical, because weather is highly localized, and the aviation weathermen are often the difference between a safe or deadly flight.

Posted by: kinoworks | February 23, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Recent Republican administrations showed an appetite for privatizing lots of things the public commonwealth had built up.

Imagine a Friend of Dick running the Weather Bureau - the trickle of information would be manipulated for political purposes and individual gain.

The weather bureau, roadways, prisons and public health are all too easily manipulated and all too important to civic life to be profiteered.

Posted by: practica1 | February 23, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Once again the FAA is trying to justify cost savings over safety. When is this agency going to learn from their mistakes. When they contracted out Flight Service in 2005, using other than ethical procedures, the service has been in a continual downward spiral. Traffic is way down, quality is way down and cost per "service" is way up. The FAA hoped to save 1.7 billion dollars for the life of the contract, but it isn't going to happen.
Local knowledge has been spread about the lower 48 and no longer enters into a quality briefing. If there was ever a reason to keep Flight Service that was it. Now, the FAA is trying to do the same with the Center Weather Service Units (CWSU). Don't do it. In fact bring back Flight Service under the government umbrella. Congress has done a poor job of policing that catastrophic event. Its just a matter of time before someone of importance is harmed or killed before they hold another "lessons learned" hearing. Once again, too little too late. Keep the NWS at the ARTCCs. If the almighty dollar is paramount, reduce the staffing from 4 to 3. The Shotgun approach rarely works in ATC. That lesson should have been "learned" from the Flight Service contract award.

Posted by: FromAway | February 24, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

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