Contract Weather Observers Will Be Funded Through FY 2013

Executive Summary: The FAA announced this morning that it will continue to fund contract weather observers (CWOs) through at least the end of federal fiscal year 2013 (i.e., September 30, 2013).  This includes reinstating CWOs at the 14 U.S. airports where services were terminated yesterday. As we noted earlier this week, CWOs provide supplemental weather observations to those produced by automated weather observation systems and act as backup observers in the event of the failure of these automated systems.

The FAA's decision came after ACI-NA and several ACI-NA member airports raised concerns about the CWO Transition Plan. These concerns appear to have played a key role in FAA's decision to defer termination of CWO services. As FAA's own in the explanation of the decision states, "After further reviewing the plan, the FAA has made the determination that it will extend its weather observer contracts through the end of this fiscal year to allow for more stakeholder input on how to proceed going forward."

Issues: As noted in a Committee Notice issued on April 29, FAA has been moving forward with its plans to terminate CWO services at 121 towered airports. These plans are outlined detailed in a Transition Plan, dated March 15, 2013. Yesterday, the FAA terminated CWO services at 14 of these airports.

Over the last several weeks, several member airports informed ACI-NA of their concerns about the Transition Plan and its implications for airport and airline operations. Earlier this week, we conveyed these concerns--which include lack of coordination, unclear expectations, undefined training requirements, costs, and liability issues--to the FAA Air Traffic Organization.

In part because of these concerns, FAA has decided to will continue to funding CWOs through at least the end of FY2013, including at the 14 airports where CWO services were terminated yesterday. 

Who is Impacted: One hundred and twenty-one U.S. airports, including all 30 of the FAA's "Core 30" airports.

What is ACI-NA Doing?:  Going forward, ACI-NA will be working with interested airport operators and the FAA and our member airports over the next few months to ensure airport operator concerns are addressed before CWO services are terminated.

Needed Airport Actions:

  • Let us know if you have specific issues concerning the CWO transition that you'd like ACI-NA to address in our discussions with FAA or if you are interested in participating directly in ACI-NA's efforts to coordinate CWO transition planning with the FAA.
  • Let us know if you've already developed plans to provide supplemental weather observations to the FAA.

​ACI-NA Contacts:   Chris Oswald coswald@aci-na.org and Matt Griffin mgriffin@aci-na.org