Weather Reorganization Comment Period Extended

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The FAA has extended by 30 days the comment period for a proposal to consolidate its in-house meteorological staff in to centers in Kansas City, Mo. and College Park, Md. The 84 weather folks are now spread across 21 facilities coast to coast and they're hoping the 30-day extension will lead to a change of heart. Essentially, the meteorologists are saying that no amount of technology can replace local knowledge in forecasting weather. "The people in Kansas City would be forecasting from the Virgin Islands to the Ohio Valley and out to Honolulu," Dan Sobien, president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization told the Associated Press. "There's no way to have that kind of expertise. They could be dealing with a blizzard and a hurricane at the same time." FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen told AP that no formal proposal has been formulated and, whatever results, safety will not be compromised. "No matter what plan is ultimately put in place, the FAA would never adopt an initiative that would affect safety or reduce the amount of weather information that's going to our controllers," Bergen said.

But Bergen also said the FAA is looking at cutting costs and the proposed realignment is not a safety issue. "We're considering ways to reduce costs while ensuring the FAA air traffic controllers receive appropriate and timely weather reports," said Bergen. "This isn't a safety issue. We're just trying to find ways to spend tax dollars more wisely and use the best technology available." The National Air Traffic Controllers Association is firmly on the side of the meteorologists."I worry whether or not the meteorologists there, not familiar with the local weather nuances in our airspace, will be able to act on our local behalf to the best advantage of the flying public," said Craig Boehne, a NATCA rep in Minneapolis.