August 29, 2001
The FAA has agreed to keep human weather observers in south-central Alaska. The agency responded to opposition from AOPA, the Alaska Airmen's Association, and the Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation. Last month, the FAA announced it intended to do away with contract weather observers at Allen Army Airfield (Big Delta) and Gulkana airports. The FAA said automated surface observation system (ASOS) facilities at the two locations would provide adequate weather reporting. Alaskan pilots knew better. The automated systems couldn't "see" the weather in nearby mountain passes that are highly traveled VFR routes. AOPA Alaska Regional Representative Tom George worked with AASF and AAA to get pilot comments to the FAA. The agency listened. It has now issued a new notice to the public saying, "Following a thorough review of the comments received from a wide range of users, we have determined it to be in the best interest of all parties to retain this service at both locations."
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