Fourteen aviation organizations including AOPA, EAA and GAMA are asking the FAA to reconsider its position on not allowing pilots access to weather data from hundreds of non-federal weather stations. Currently, non-federal weather stations must be equipped with AWOS-III or better to be included in the FAA’s Weather Message Switching Center Replacement (WMSCR), which collects, processes and disseminates aviation weather products to NAS systems, airlines, and international and commercial users.
The organizations sent a joint letter to the FAA last August asking the agency to remove the AWOS-III requirement and to change the VFR weather station standard to require fewer maintenance visits. The letter states that the inclusion of data from lower-level and non-AWOS stations has the potential to increase safety, help prevent unintentional flight into IMC and assist with go/no-go decision making. Reducing required maintenance visits will, the groups believe, save money without impacting safety. The FAA denied the requests, but both AOPA and EAA have said they are continuing to pursue the issue.
The FAA told AVWeb that the AWOS-III requriement is in place in order to meet national and international policy requirements. The agency went on to say that “[it] is reviewing current policies and is investigating refinements to procedures and infrastructure as part of future acquistions under NextGen Weather Systems.”