Forecasters Predict Legal Action
The National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO) says it will take legal action against the FAA’s plan to eliminate on-site weather forecasters at 21 Air Route Traffic Control Centers. In a letter to the agency, Richard J. Hirn, the NWSEO’s general counsel, says the FAA’s plan to centralize the weather-forecasting operation in a single, contracted-out facility violates various laws that, in a nutshell, say it’s the National Weather Service’s job to provide weather information to the FAA. Hirn also notes that NWS forecasters have been consistently exempt from contracting out because they provide services that are “inherently governmental.” In his letter, Hirn tells Robert Fitzpatrick of the FAA’s Office of Enterprise Solutions that potential bidders should know what they’re in for. “You should advise your potential contractors that this matter will become subject of federal litigation so they can make an informed decision on whether to participate in an illegal procurement process,” he wrote. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) is backing the NWSEO’s opposition to the centralization, saying that having direct access to a weather expert in the center saves time in making routing and other weather-related decisions.