AOPA President Phil Boyer wants to be sure the public knows that having access to free government weather products is critical for aviation safety, and that's what he told ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings in an interview Wednesday.
"There is nothing more important to pilots than weather," Boyer said. "Forty percent of all fatal general aviation accidents have weather as a contributing factor. While many pilots use services such as The Weather Channel for long-range planning, free government services offered by the National Weather Service provide crucial information specifically useful for pilots."
Boyer was interviewed as part of a story, expected to air next week, about proposed legislation that would prohibit the National Weather Service (NWS) from offering any "product or service that is or could be provided by the private sector."
During the interview, Boyer demonstrated how pilots can use a computer to access weather data as a routine and necessary part of preflight planning.
The legislation, introduced last week by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), is not the first time NWS products have been threatened by so-called "non-compete" efforts, and AOPA has successfully protected access to those products in the past.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Commerce Committee, where Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) understands how important it is for pilots to have readily available weather information. Committee member Sen. Bill Nelson of hurricane-ravaged Florida has already expressed his opposition to Santorum's bill.
Both Santorum and Nelson also were interviewed by ABC.
[See also AOPA's Air Traffic Services brief.]
April 28, 2005