I am a weather observer at the Salem, Oregon air traffic control tower. Are you aware that the FAA has proposed to eliminate 158 weather observing stations across the country? These observers, like myself, backup the ASOS (automated surface observing system) at these stations. ASOS was originally designed to be a stand-alone system, but there were so many problems it was thought to be a safety risk. Four years ago, the aviation community was largely responsible for stopping its progress. Now, the FAA says that ASOS has been found ‘accurate and reliable’ and ‘safety will not be degraded or compromised when the human observers are removed’. The eliminations will be made at level C and D airports which means this will mainly affect the general aviation community.
I can tell you from experience that ASOS has not been improved over the last four years as the FAA claims and that thousands of errors have been documented by observers. It could be foggy at one end of a runway and ASOS would still report clear skies. This presents a potentially dangerous situation because the machine only knows the weather within ten feet around it and directly above it.
The aviation community rallied support to keep human observers last time and it worked. We need to get this information out to aviators in an effort to try to keep this program going.