Appendix A
Summary of Findings and Recommendations

A complete list of the committee's findings and recommendations appears below. This list includes the committee's nine major recommendations, which are numbered and boxed. The other recommendations expand upon and support the major recommendations.

All of the findings and recommendations are listed in the order in which they appear in the body of the report.

Chapter 2 Current Roles and Missions

Finding: Federal regulations create an implicit responsibility for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure that weather services are available to meet the needs of aviation.

Recommendation: The FAA should view meteorology as a significant component of every area of its responsibility in which weather could affect safety or efficiency.

Recommendation: The FAA should aggressively strive to improve the efficiency of air commerce just as it already strives to improve safety.

Finding: Federal responsibilities for ensuring aviation safety and efficiency and for providing aviation weather services are adequately defined in existing legislation.

Finding: Developing a common understanding of aviation weather requirements between the FAA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the critical first step in assessing current aviation weather services and planning improvements.

Major Recommendation 1

The FAA should aggressively exercise its responsibility for coordinating user needs and expressing requirements for meteorological services to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Recommendation: The FAA and NWS should reestablish the practice of assigning high-level liaisons who are formally tasked with defining and coordinating aviation weather requirements for research, development, and operations between the FAA and NOAA/NWS.

Finding: Routine meetings between FAA and NWS staff could be a valuable tool for improving (1) the practical understanding that aviation forecasters have regarding the needs of air traffic controllers, flight service specialists, and pilots for operational weather information; and (2) the understanding of air traffic controllers and flight service specialists regarding the capabilities, utility, and limitations of aviation weather information.

Recommendation: The FAA and NWS should encourage informal interagency meetings between small groups of staff members at all management levels who are involved in providing or using aviation weather information. In addition, the NWS should enable aviation forecasters to spend duty time routinely in the environments of the aviation weather users that they support.

Finding: The manner in which the federal aviation weather system is managed fosters the development of de facto policies and procedures that limit overall system safety and efficiency.

Recommendation: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Department of Transportation, Department of Commerce, and other responsible federal agencies should expeditiously issue and implement updated or expanded policy directives to more fully comply with the intent of federal legislation regarding the provision of aviation weather services.

Recommendation: The FAA should examine selected weather-related Federal Aviation Regulations and undertake rulemaking to incorporate appropriate modifications to enhance efficiency as well as safety.

Recommendation: The FAA should assess how proposals to establish a private or federal air traffic services corporation would impact aviation weather services and related research.

Recommendation: The FAA should expeditiously improve aviation weather services rather than delay action



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 63
--> Appendix A Summary of Findings and Recommendations A complete list of the committee's findings and recommendations appears below. This list includes the committee's nine major recommendations, which are numbered and boxed. The other recommendations expand upon and support the major recommendations. All of the findings and recommendations are listed in the order in which they appear in the body of the report. Chapter 2 Current Roles and Missions Finding: Federal regulations create an implicit responsibility for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure that weather services are available to meet the needs of aviation. Recommendation: The FAA should view meteorology as a significant component of every area of its responsibility in which weather could affect safety or efficiency. Recommendation: The FAA should aggressively strive to improve the efficiency of air commerce just as it already strives to improve safety. Finding: Federal responsibilities for ensuring aviation safety and efficiency and for providing aviation weather services are adequately defined in existing legislation. Finding: Developing a common understanding of aviation weather requirements between the FAA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the critical first step in assessing current aviation weather services and planning improvements. Major Recommendation 1 The FAA should aggressively exercise its responsibility for coordinating user needs and expressing requirements for meteorological services to the National Weather Service (NWS). Recommendation: The FAA and NWS should reestablish the practice of assigning high-level liaisons who are formally tasked with defining and coordinating aviation weather requirements for research, development, and operations between the FAA and NOAA/NWS. Finding: Routine meetings between FAA and NWS staff could be a valuable tool for improving (1) the practical understanding that aviation forecasters have regarding the needs of air traffic controllers, flight service specialists, and pilots for operational weather information; and (2) the understanding of air traffic controllers and flight service specialists regarding the capabilities, utility, and limitations of aviation weather information. Recommendation: The FAA and NWS should encourage informal interagency meetings between small groups of staff members at all management levels who are involved in providing or using aviation weather information. In addition, the NWS should enable aviation forecasters to spend duty time routinely in the environments of the aviation weather users that they support. Finding: The manner in which the federal aviation weather system is managed fosters the development of de facto policies and procedures that limit overall system safety and efficiency. Recommendation: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Department of Transportation, Department of Commerce, and other responsible federal agencies should expeditiously issue and implement updated or expanded policy directives to more fully comply with the intent of federal legislation regarding the provision of aviation weather services. Recommendation: The FAA should examine selected weather-related Federal Aviation Regulations and undertake rulemaking to incorporate appropriate modifications to enhance efficiency as well as safety. Recommendation: The FAA should assess how proposals to establish a private or federal air traffic services corporation would impact aviation weather services and related research. Recommendation: The FAA should expeditiously improve aviation weather services rather than delay action

OCR for page 63
--> while the federal government decides whether to establish an air traffic services corporation to provide some or all of the functions currently provided by the FAA. Chapter 3 Current Services Recommendation: The NWS should foster the proliferation of official non-federal weather observing sites by establishing one or more additional classifications of surface weather observers, who would be trained and certified to provide partial weather observations. Recommendation: The FAA should ensure that long-term operational funding is provided for the Meteorological Data Collection and Reporting System (MDCRS). In addition, the FAA should enhance the value of MDCRS by encouraging more air carriers to participate in the program. Recommendation: The FAA and NWS should continue to resolve user-identified issues associated with the Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) and use the lessons learned from the ASOS acquisition to improve the process by which new systems are conceived, developed, and deployed. Recommendation: The FAA and NOAA should maximize the payoff of national investments in new weather observing systems by implementing improved information processing systems and new data analysis tools such as the Aviation Gridded Forecast System. Recommendation: The FAA and NWS should develop a procedure to designate private weather services as approved sources of specific aviation weather products. Recommendation: The NWS should continue ongoing efforts to increase the availability and accuracy of short-term forecasts and nowcasts. Recommendation: The NWS should continue ongoing efforts to increase the accuracy, timeliness, and geographic resolution of en route and terminal forecasts, especially with regard to icing and turbulence. Recommendation: The FAA and NWS should develop a process to allow pilots and other users of airport terminal forecasts to provide timely feedback to the NWS forecasters who generate these forecasts. Recommendation: The FAA should implement an improved Direct User Access Terminal Service (DUATS) that (1) makes it easier for pilots to understand what weather conditions are likely to impact their specific flights, (2) improves user access to graphic weather products (perhaps by using communications systems such as the Internet), and (3) improves the efficiency of pilot weather briefings by flight service specialists. Recommendation: Flight service specialists should remain available as a source of preflight and en route weather information for general aviation and business pilots. Recommendation: The FAA should take the lead in developing tailored and consistent graphic aviation weather products that feature improved accuracy, timeliness, and resolution. Finding: The limited capabilities of existing cockpit display and ground-to-air communications systems are the largest technical impediments to improving dissemination of graphic weather information to pilots en route. Recommendation: The FAA should support ongoing work that addresses shortcomings in cockpit display and ground-to-air communications systems. The FAA should also continue to provide voice radio links to weather briefers on the ground, such as those currently provided by AFSSs, until a practical alternative system is fielded. Finding: Increasing the ability of air traffic controllers to access accurate weather information would encourage them to monitor meteorological conditions routinely. Increasing controllers' awareness of adverse weather could significantly contribute to the safety and efficiency of the airways. Recommendation: The FAA and NWS should improve the effectiveness of Center Weather Service Units (CWSUs) by taking the following actions: The NWS should place all 21 CWSUs under the organizational authority of the Aviation Weather Center that the NWS is establishing in place of the National Aviation Weather Advisory Unit. The FAA should challenge CWSUs to improve the level of services that they provide. In particular, the FAA should encourage managers and staff at Air Route Traffic Control Centers to use the full capabilities of the CWSUs, and it should ensure that en route air traffic controllers receive preshift weather briefings from CWSU meteorologists. Recommendation: The FAA should facilitate the ability of airport operators to acquire appropriate weather information by granting their operational staff routine access to DUATS. Recommendation: The FAA should take the following actions to improve weather-related training: Encourage universities, flight schools, and other training facilities to focus initial and recurrent training of aviation weather users and providers on understanding and optimizing the use of available weather information. Revise federal licensing procedures for pilots, controllers, flight service specialists, and dispatchers to

OCR for page 63
--> test more effectively the abilities of candidates to use weather information in making safe operational decisions regarding the weather. Increase the emphasis that weather receives during biennial flight reviews, safety seminars, and refresher courses for designated pilot examiners and flight instructors. Major Recommendation 2 The FAA should provide the leadership needed to develop a comprehensive national training program that improves the practical meteorological skills of users and providers of aviation weather services. Recommendation: The FAA should take the lead in establishing and aggressively pursuing aviation weather goals and priorities that reflect the positions of other involved parties, including the following: other federal agencies and departments; other providers of aviation weather services (e.g., private weather services and state governments); and user groups, including the unions, associations, and industry groups that represent those who work with the U.S. aviation weather system on a daily basis: air carrier personnel, pilots, air traffic controllers, flight service specialists, meteorologists, and dispatchers. Recommendation: Near-term efforts by the FAA and NWS to improve the effectiveness of aviation weather services should focus on the urgent, unmet needs of aviation weather users, which include the following: a comprehensive national training program to improve the practical meteorological skills of users and providers of aviation weather services; advanced weather products that are relevant, timely, accurate, and easy to comprehend (e.g., graphically displayed); ground-to-air communications and cockpit display systems for en route dissemination of advanced weather products; and weather observations and forecasts that offer improved temporal, geographic, and altitude-specific resolution. Major Recommendation 3 The FAA should swiftly exploit current technology to provide consistent and timely graphic weather information to pilots, controllers, and dispatchers. Chapter 4 Research and Development Finding: It is the proper role of government to develop, fund, and execute a research plan in aviation weather just as it does in many other areas involving the public good. Recommendation: The federal government should make a long-term commitment to aviation weather research as an investment in the future safety and efficiency of aviation. Recommendation: The FAA should take the lead in implementing the recommendation of the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology (OFCM) to develop an interagency plan for aviation weather research and development. Recommendation: The FAA should augment its meteorological expertise to enhance its ability to plan and implement effective aviation weather services. Recommendation: The FAA and Congress should maximize the effectiveness of new aviation weather systems by ensuring that related research, training, system installation, and support systems are funded with a priority equal to that of the system acquisition efforts with which they are associated. Finding: The FAA is in the best position to provide the leadership, establish the priorities, and advocate the funding required to develop an aviation weather system that meets national needs. Recommendation: The following steps should be taken to improve aviation weather research and development processes: The FAA, NOAA/NWS, National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Department of Defense (DoD) should collaborate under FAA leadership to develop, fund, and implement a comprehensive plan for aviation weather research and development with firm objectives and closely integrated program plans and funding commitments. The OFCM should facilitate the development of such a plan, but final commitments should be made by agency heads. The meteorological expertise needed to develop and implement the plan described above could come primarily from NOAA and DoD. However, it would also be prudent to strengthen the FAA's in-house meteorological expertise. The FAA and NOAA should ensure that aviation weather research and development are closely coupled to operational components of these agencies so

OCR for page 63
--> that new concepts and new ideas can be swiftly integrated into ongoing operations. The aviation weather research and development process should seek continuing and in-depth involvement with all users, especially the pilots, controllers, forecasters, and dispatchers who depend on weather information to facilitate safe and efficient operations. Major Recommendation 4 The FAA should provide the leadership needed to support and focus research and development efforts by government, academic, and industrial institutions on key aviation weather issues. Chapter 5 Regional Requirements Finding: VFR (visual flight rules) aviation in Alaska plays a role of uniquely vital economic and social significance. However, the safety and efficiency of aviation in Alaska is limited by deficiencies in the aviation weather system that have persisted for at least the last 15 years. Recommendation: The FAA, on behalf of the federal government, should take the lead in finding the means to meet special regional needs for aviation weather services. In regions that have special needs, the FAA should establish a team that includes other responsible federal and state government agencies, the local aviation industry, airport operators, pilots, professional organizations, and local communities to identify, assess, and properly respond to these needs. Such a team should address the following areas: The overall aviation weather goals and priorities of the local user community and how they differ from those that drive the national aviation weather system. The role that each of the involved parties should play in meeting these goals. The extent to which it is practical to modify the structure and processes of the national aviation weather system to accommodate special needs of local users. There should be an appropriate balance between the competing goals of (1) maximizing the effectiveness of the regional system, which might call for highly customized services, and (2) minimizing regional variances in the national system so that users are not confused by differing procedures as they travel throughout the country. The optimum methods for allocating available resources. Existing aviation weather systems would clearly benefit from the allocation of more resources, and it may be appropriate for federal and state agencies to request that their future budgets contain additional funds. First, however, it is imperative to determine if service can be improved by reallocating currently available resources. After addressing the above areas, the FAA should take the lead in assuring that appropriate action is taken. The FAA should also initiate appropriate statutory and regulatory variances to accommodate the agreed-upon plan of action. Recommendation: State governments should play a role in responding to special regional needs for aviation weather services that is second only to that of the federal government. Major Recommendation 5 The FAA should provide the leadership to meet regional needs for aviation weather services with regional solutions. Chapter 6 Future Roles and Missions Recommendation: As part of its effort to provide necessary leadership, the FAA should accomplish the following tasks: Specify national and regional aviation weather requirements. Organize multiagency participation in aviation weather research, operations, and training. Justify aviation weather budget requests. Orchestrate a coordinated aviation weather research and development program. Improve the understanding and use of weather information by aviation users. Provide day-to-day dissemination of weather information to aviation users. Respond to the other recommendations contained in this report and in Weather for Those Who Fly (NRC, 1994).

OCR for page 63
--> Major Recommendation 6: The Primary Recommendation The FAA should provide the leadership, establish the priorities, and ensure the funding needed to improve weather services for aviation users and to strengthen related research. Recommendation: The executive branch should formally designate the FAA as the lead federal agency for ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency of the national aviation weather system. Recommendation: The FAA should seek a broad consensus on aviation weather goals and priorities with (1) other federal agencies; (2) other providers of aviation weather services (i.e., private weather services and state governments); (3) research organizations; and (4) user groups, including the unions, associations, and industry groups that represent those who work with the U.S. aviation weather system on a daily basis: air carrier personnel, pilots, air traffic controllers, flight service specialists, meteorologists, and dispatchers. Recommendation: The FAA Administrator should designate an associate administrator to assume overall responsibility for carrying out the FAA's lead agency role for aviation weather and to serve as a single focal point within the FAA with the authority to provide effective internal and external coordination of aviation weather services and related research programs that involve the FAA. Major Recommendation 7 The FAA should adopt the philosophy that weather services are an important part of its air traffic responsibilities; it should develop procedures and weather products to improve the ability of pilots and air traffic controllers to ensure that aircraft avoid hazardous weather. Major Recommendation 8 The NWS should continue to meet FAd-determined requirements for weather services as part of its responsibilities for atmospheric observations, analyses, and forecasts. Recommendation: The Aviation Weather Center should be established with expanded authority to oversee aviation weather services within the NWS. At a minimum, this should include oversight of the NWS's 21 CWSUs. The NWS should also explore other options for using the Aviation Weather Center's specialized capabilities. Recommendation: The FAA and NWS should develop more-detailed guidance regarding the future role of private weather services. This guidance should view private weather services as partners in the overall effort to improve the quality and reduce the total cost of aviation weather services. Recommendation: The federal government should continue to fund aviation weather services that it may transfer to the private sector to ensure that noncommercial general aviation pilots are not confronted by user fees that may discourage the prudent use of aviation weather services. Recommendation: The DoD should retain primary responsibility within the federal government for providing aviation weather services required by military aviation. The DoD and NWS should continue to coordinate and integrate their meteorological systems. Recommendation: NASA should continue to work with the FAA and the private sector to conduct research and technology development activities that will improve aviation safety and efficiency. Recommendation: The OFCM should periodically assess the effectiveness of the national aviation weather system and related research conducted by the federal government. Recommendation: The FAA and NWS should use state aviation weather systems as a resource to improve the overall effectiveness of the national aviation weather system. The FAA and NWS should facilitate actions by interested states to improve local aviation weather systems, especially in regions of the United States, such as Alaska, that have special needs for aviation weather services that regional systems could help address. Chapter 7 The First Step Major Recommendation 9 The federal government should place a high priority on reaffirming and reinforcing the leadership role of the FAA and the supporting roles of other agencies. Recommendation: As a first step in improving aviation weather services and related research, the committee suggests the following timeline:

OCR for page 63
--> Within 3 months of the release of this report, the FAA should implement the committee's recommendation to designate an associate administrator to assume overall responsibility for carrying out the FAA's lead agency role (see Chapter 6, page 56). Within 6 months, the executive branch should replace OMB Circular A-62, which has been rescinded without replacement, by issuing ''policy guidelines and procedures for planning and conducting Federal meteorological services and applied research and development to improve such services'' (OMB Circular A-62; see Chapter 2, page 16, and Appendix D, page 78). Within 9 months, the FAA and NOAA/NWS should comply with their existing memorandum of agreement regarding the provision of aviation weather services, or they should implement a new agreement (see Chapter 2, pages 16–19). Within 12 months, with the assistance of the OFCM, the FAA should prepare a definitive 5-year integrated plan specifying the objectives, strategies, schedule, phasing, and budgets needed to achieve an improved aviation weather system. This plan should be developed with inputs from other government agencies and the user community. References NRC (National Research Council). 1994. Weather for Those Who Fly. National Weather Service Modernization Committee, National Research Council. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. OMB (Office of Management and Budget) Circular A-62, November 13, 1963.