As the FAA was set to begin the phase-out of contract weather observers, the agency decided to postpone the move until the end of the fiscal year in order to gather more information from stakeholders.
The transition was scheduled because of the FAA’s sequestration-induced budget cuts, but President Barack Obama signed legislation May 1 granting the FAA the budgetary flexibility needed to end employee furloughs and possibly keep contract control towers open. This also gave the FAA flexibility to keep the contract weather observers.
“Air traffic controllers currently provide quality weather observation services at more than 300 airports around the country. The FAA pays contractors to provide those same services at an additional 140 facilities around the country. In an effort to reduce costs without reducing the services or impacting safety, the FAA has been working through a phased plan to train controllers to take over those duties from the contractors. 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,” the FAA announced.