Friday, December 26, 2014

Federal Aviation Administration weather system at Washington County Airport (KAFJ) not operating

When Santa’s sleigh was making its way through area skies Wednesday night, the man in the red suit would have had to rely only on the reindeer with the red nose and another airport’s weather reporting system as a cold front quickly moved through because the Federal Aviation Administration’s automated weather-observing system at the Washington County Airport was inoperable.

Scott Gray, executive director of the airport, sent out a notification Tuesday saying, “The FAA is has been working on several issues with the AWOS equipment over the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, the system is currently (out) of service due to a part failure. There is no estimated time frame at this time.”

William McGowen, executive director of the Washington County Redevelopment Authority, which oversees the airport, said Friday, “It’s not a big deal. We want to upgrade to have a little more capability. Not all small airports have AWOS. We’re someplace in the middle. We don’t have all the bells and whistles, but we have most of them. An airport of our size is going to have some sort of weather reporting. It’s another piece of information that you want to have when you’re flight-planning.

“I want to know what the weather is, what the wind speed and direction is or the depth of the cloud deck. It’s a good safety feature we’ve come to really like.”

The phone number of Washington County Airport’s AWOS, 724-228-3529, is normally one that pilots call before driving to the airport and before takeoff, for example. Pilots also phone the AWOS before landing. Those who call now will hear nothing more than a ringing telephone.

Automated sensors now gather weather data that, at one time, was available only at large airports with staff who would release balloons equipped with transmitters.

Information is available from Arnold Palmer Airport in Latrobe, Westmoreland County; Wheeling-Ohio County Airport in West Virginia; Pittsburgh International Airport; and the Allegheny County Airport.

“It becomes a big deal for some corporate guys,” McGowen said, because corporate policies and protocols can dictate that they must land only where they have information on weather conditions. “Most people are going to come in anyway because they have surrounding weather. Whenever there’s something that’s not normal at the airfield, we tell pilots so they’re well-informed.”


No comments:

Post a Comment