How Much Is A Live Weather Briefer Worth?
The FAA and the National Weather Service are running a test in the Leesburg, Va., Air Route Traffic Control Center this month to see if it's really necessary to have on-staff meteorologists in the center, or if off-site weather briefers could do the work instead. The FAA says it's trying to determine if it can save money and at the same time enhance services. "We pay the Weather Service $12 million to do face-to-face briefings for us at our facilities," FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto told The Baltimore Sun. "We could be doing this remotely through video conferencing. It's a more efficient and cost-effective way of doing things." The FAA says the remote system would make briefings available 24 hours a day, while the current on-site briefing stations are staffed just 16 hours a day. Weather forecasters have been on-site in radar centers since the 1970s, when a fatal airline crash was blamed on the lack of timely weather reports provided to the pilots. Both the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the National Weather Service Employees Organization oppose the removal of meteorologists from the centers. Among union members and on Capitol Hill, there is talk that FAA intends to replace the Weather Service briefers with a private company, according to GovExec.com.