Appendix D
Reference Documents for Current Roles and Missions

Federal roles and missions for aviation weather services and related research are divided among the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Weather Service (NOAA/NWS), Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology (OFCM), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in accordance with the following key documents:

  • Organic Act of 1890, as amended and incorporated into Title 15 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations;
  • Weather Services Modernization Act, Public Law 102–567, Title VII, October 1992;
  • Federal Aviation Act of 1958, as amended and incorporated into Title 49 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations;
  • National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, as amended and incorporated into Title 42 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations;
  • Department of Commerce Appropriations Act of 1963, as incorporated in Title 68 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations;
  • OMB Circular A-62, November 13, 1963, and Department of Commerce Implementation Plan for Circular A-62, January 9, 1964; and
  • Memorandum of Agreement Between the FAA and the NOAA for the Establishment of Working Arrangements for Providing Aviation Weather Service and Meteorological Communications, January 24, 1977.

This appendix summarizes each of these documents.

Organic Act of 1890

The Organic Act of 1890 established a civilian organization—the Weather Bureau—to provide federal weather services. Prior to this act, weather services had been provided primarily by the Signal Corps of the U.S. Army. This act, as subsequently amended, remains in effect as part of Title 15 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.

Sections 311 and 313 of Title 15 place the NWS within the Department of Commerce and make the Secretary of Commerce responsible for making meteorological observations, forecasting weather, and issuing storm warnings.

Section 313a of Title 15 directs the Secretary of Commerce to develop "an international basic meteorological reporting network in the Arctic region of the Western Hemisphere, including the establishment, operation, and maintenance of such reporting stations," to "improve the weather forecasting service.., and promote safety and efficiency in civil air navigation to the highest degree."

Weather Services Modernization Act

As noted in Toward a New National Weather ServiceReview of Modernization Criteria (NRC, 1993), the U.S. Congress has demonstrated considerable interest in the NWS Modernization Program, which involves closing or relocating many local weather offices. One manifestation of this interest is the Weather Services Modernization Act (Title VII of Public Law 102–567) by which Congress requires the Secretary of Commerce to certify that the modernization process will not degrade local weather services.

Sec. 705, Changes in Field Office Operations

(b) Weather Radar Decommissioning. The Secretary [of Commerce] shall not remove or permanently decommission any National Weather Service radar until the Secretary has prepared radar commissioning and decommissioning reports documenting that such action would be



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--> Appendix D Reference Documents for Current Roles and Missions Federal roles and missions for aviation weather services and related research are divided among the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Weather Service (NOAA/NWS), Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology (OFCM), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in accordance with the following key documents: Organic Act of 1890, as amended and incorporated into Title 15 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations; Weather Services Modernization Act, Public Law 102–567, Title VII, October 1992; Federal Aviation Act of 1958, as amended and incorporated into Title 49 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations; National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, as amended and incorporated into Title 42 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations; Department of Commerce Appropriations Act of 1963, as incorporated in Title 68 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations; OMB Circular A-62, November 13, 1963, and Department of Commerce Implementation Plan for Circular A-62, January 9, 1964; and Memorandum of Agreement Between the FAA and the NOAA for the Establishment of Working Arrangements for Providing Aviation Weather Service and Meteorological Communications, January 24, 1977. This appendix summarizes each of these documents. Organic Act of 1890 The Organic Act of 1890 established a civilian organization—the Weather Bureau—to provide federal weather services. Prior to this act, weather services had been provided primarily by the Signal Corps of the U.S. Army. This act, as subsequently amended, remains in effect as part of Title 15 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Sections 311 and 313 of Title 15 place the NWS within the Department of Commerce and make the Secretary of Commerce responsible for making meteorological observations, forecasting weather, and issuing storm warnings. Section 313a of Title 15 directs the Secretary of Commerce to develop "an international basic meteorological reporting network in the Arctic region of the Western Hemisphere, including the establishment, operation, and maintenance of such reporting stations," to "improve the weather forecasting service.., and promote safety and efficiency in civil air navigation to the highest degree." Weather Services Modernization Act As noted in Toward a New National Weather Service—Review of Modernization Criteria (NRC, 1993), the U.S. Congress has demonstrated considerable interest in the NWS Modernization Program, which involves closing or relocating many local weather offices. One manifestation of this interest is the Weather Services Modernization Act (Title VII of Public Law 102–567) by which Congress requires the Secretary of Commerce to certify that the modernization process will not degrade local weather services. Sec. 705, Changes in Field Office Operations (b) Weather Radar Decommissioning. The Secretary [of Commerce] shall not remove or permanently decommission any National Weather Service radar until the Secretary has prepared radar commissioning and decommissioning reports documenting that such action would be

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--> consistent with the modernization criteria established under section 704(b)(1). The commissioning report shall document that the radar system performs reliably, satisfactory maintenance support is in place, sufficient staff with adequate training are present to operate the system, technical coordination with weather service users has been completed, and the radar being commissioned satisfactorily supports field office operations. The decommissioning report shall document that the replacement radar has been commissioned, technical coordination with service users has been completed, and the radar being decommissioned is no longer needed to support field office operations. (c) Surface Observing System Commissioning. The Secretary may not commission an automated surface observing system located at an airport unless it is determined, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, that the weather services provided after commissioning will continue to be in full compliance with applicable flight aviation rules promulgated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Sec. 706, Restructuring Field Offices (b) Certification. The Secretary [of Commerce] shall not close, consolidate, automate, or relocate any field office, unless the Secretary has certified that such action will not result in any degradation of service. (e) Special Circumstances. The Secretary may not close or relocate any field office— (1)   which is located at an airport, unless the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation and the [Modernization Transition] Committee, first conducts an air safety appraisal, determines that such action will not result in degradation of service that affects aircraft safety, and includes such determination in the certification required under subsection (b); or (2)   which is the only office in a State, unless the Secretary first evaluates the effect on weather services provided to in-state users, such as State agencies, civil defense officials, and local public safety offices, and includes in the certification required under subsection (b) the Secretary's determination that a comparable level of weather services provided to such in-State users will remain. (f) Liaison Officer. The Secretary may not close, consolidate, automate, or relocate a field office until arrangements have been made to maintain for a period of at least 2 years at least one person in the service area to act as a liaison officer who— (1)   provides timely information regarding the activities of the National Weather Service which may affect service to the community, including modernization and restructuring; and (2)   works with area weather service users, including persons associated with general aviation, civil defense, emergency preparedness, and the news media, with respect to the provision of timely weather warnings and forecasts. Federal Aviation Act of 1958, As Amended The Federal Aviation Act of 1958, which has been incorporated into Title 49 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, is the primary legislative reference governing domestic civil aviation. This act is continually revised and, as a result, it remains current. The act's overall goals, which have remained constant, are as follows: "... to provide for the regulation and promotion of civil aviation in such a manner as to best foster its development and safety, and to provide for the safe and efficient use of the airspace by both civil and military aircraft, and for other purposes." Sections 304, 305, 307, 310, 312, and 803 of the act, as amended, are of particular importance to the provision of aviation weather services and the conduct of related research. Section 304, Authority of the President to Transfer Certain Functions The President may transfer to the Administrator any functions ... of the executive departments or agencies ... which relate primarily to selecting, developing, testing, evaluating, establishing, operating and maintaining systems, procedures, facilities, or devices for safe and efficient air navigation and air traffic control. In connection with any such transfer, the President may pro-

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--> vide for appropriate transfers of records, property, and ... personnel. Section 305, Fostering of Air Commerce The Administrator is empowered and directed to encourage and foster the development of civil aeronautics and air commerce in the United States and abroad. Section 307, Airspace Control and Facilities The Administrator is authorized and directed to develop plans for and formulate policy ... to insure the safety of aircraft and the efficient utilization of [the navigable] airspace.... The Administrator is further authorized and directed to prescribe air traffic rules ... for the navigation, protection, and identification of aircraft ... and ... for the prevention of collision between aircraft.... Section 310, Meteorological Service The Administrator is empowered and directed to make recommendations to the Secretary of Commerce for providing meteorological service necessary for the safe and efficient movement of aircraft in air commerce. In providing meteorological services, the Secretary of Commerce shall cooperate with the Administrator and give full consideration to such recommendations. Section 312, Development Planning The Administrator is directed to make long range plans for and formulate policy with respect to the orderly development of and use of the navigable airspace.... The Administrator shall develop, modify, test, and evaluate systems, procedures, facilities, and devices ... to meet the needs for safe and efficient navigation and traffic control.... The Administrator shall undertake or supervise research ... to enhance air traffic controller ... and flight crew performance.... [Section 44505(c) of Title 49 further specifies that "the Administrator shall conduct or supervise research on ... aviation issues related to developing and maintaining a safe and efficient air transportation system."] Section 803, Weather Service In order to promote safety and efficiency in air navigation to the highest possible degree, the Secretary of Commerce shall, in addition to any other functions or duties pertaining to weather information for other purposes, make such observations, measurements, investigations, and studies of atmospheric phenomena, and establish such meteorological offices and stations, as are necessary or best suited for ascertaining, in advance, information concerning probable weather conditions; furnish such reports, forecasts, warnings, and advices [sic] to the Secretary of Transportation and to such persons engaged in civil aeronautics ... in such manner and with such frequency as will best result in safety in and in facilitating air navigation; cooperate with persons engaged in air commerce ... and collect and disseminate weather reports available from aircraft in flight; establish and coordinate the international exchanges of meteorological information required for the safety and efficiency of air navigation; participate in the development of an international basic meteorological reporting network, including the establishment, operation, and maintenance of reporting stations ... in polar regions ... in cooperation with ... persons engaged in air commerce; coordinate meteorological requirements in the United States in order to ... avoid duplication of services unless such duplication tends to promote the safety and efficiency of air navigation; and promote and develop meteorological science and ... research projects.... National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, As Amended The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, which has been incorporated into Title 42 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, is the primary legislative reference governing civil aeronautics and space research. Like the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, this act has been continually revised and remains current. Sections 2451, Subsection 101, National Aeronautics and Space Capital Development Program Congress finds that—

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--> (18) the goal of aeronautical research and technology development and validation activities should be to contribute to a national technology base that will enhance United States preeminence in civil and military aviation and improve the safety and efficiency of the United States air transportation system; and (19) aeronautical research and technology development and validation activities should— (A) emphasize emerging technologies with potential for breakthrough advances; (B) consist of— (i) fundamental research in all aeronautical disciplines, aimed at greater understanding of aeronautical phenomena and development of new aeronautical concepts; and (ii) technology development and validation activities aimed at laboratory-scale development and proof-of-concept demonstration of selected concepts with high payoff potential; ... (E) include providing technical assistance and facility support to other government agencies and United States industry; (F) include conducting joint projects with other government agencies where such projects contribute materially to the goals set forth in this section; .... Section 2451, Subsection 305, Aeronautical Research and Technology Development and Validation Long Range Plan The [NASA] Administrator should develop a plan in pursuit of— (1) a vigorous program in aeronautics research and technology development and validation, emphasizing emerging technologies with the potential for breakthrough advances to enhance United States preeminence in civil and military aviation." Section 2473, Functions of Administration (a) The [National Aeronautics and Space] Administration, in order to carry out the purpose of this chapter, shall— (1) plan, direct, and conduct aeronautical and space activities; (3) provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof. (c) In the performance of its functions the [National Aeronautics and Space] Administration is authorized— (6) to use, with their consent, the services, equipment, personnel, and facilities of Federal and other agencies with or without reimbursement, and on a similar basis to cooperate with other public and private agencies and instrumentalities in the use of services, equipment, and facilities. Each department and agency of the Federal Government shall cooperate fully with the Administration in making its services, equipment, personnel, and facilities available to the Administration, and any such department or agency is authorized, notwithstanding any other provision of law, to transfer to or to receive for the Administration, without reimbursement, aeronautical and space vehicles, and supplies and equipment other than administrative supplies and equipment. (8) to establish within the Administration such offices and procedures as may be appropriate to provide for the greatest possible coordination of its activities under this chapter with related scientific and other activities being carried on by other public and private agencies and organizations. Department of Commerce Appropriations Act of 1963 The Department of Commerce Appropriations Act of 1963 established a requirement for the Bureau of the Budget to include in each year's budget presentation a summary of all federal programs for meteorology, including goals and expected costs. This requirement, which has been retained in Title 68 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, now applies to the Office of Management and Budget. Section 304 The Bureau of the Budget shall provide the Congress, in connection with the budget presentation

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--> for fiscal year 1964 and each succeeding year thereafter, a horizontal budget showing the totality of the programs for meteorology, the specific aspects of the program and funding assigned to each agency, and the estimated goals and financial requirements. OMB Circular A-62 The Bureau of the Budget issued Circular A-62 in 1963 to prescribe ''policy guidelines and procedures for planning and conducting Federal meteorological services and applied research and development to improve such services....''1 As stated in Circular A-62, these guidelines accomplished the following: reaffirm the central role of the Department of Commerce with respect to basic meteorological services; clarify the respective responsibilities of the Department of Commerce and the user agencies for basic and specialized meteorological services; establish procedures to facilitate coordination and the resolution of outstanding issues; [and] provide for evaluating user requirements within the context of a balanced and integrated Federal plan.... The Department of Commerce responded to Circular A-62 by issuing an implementation plan on January 9, 1964, which was revised on January 13, 1964. Circular A-62 defined basic meteorological services as "all activities, that are possible within the given state of the meteorological science, required to produce or complete a description ... of the atmosphere. In general the products of this process are meteorological in nature and are not necessarily useful in such form for the operational needs of users. These services also include ... [the generation of] products needed by the general public in their normal everyday activities and for the protection of their lives and property." Specialized meteorological services are defined as "those activities ... which produce those products needed to serve the operational needs of particular user groups. These user groups include ... aviation...." Circular A-62 required the Department of Commerce to "establish procedures designed to facilitate a systematic and continuing review of basic and specialized meteorological requirements, services, and closely related supporting research" and to "prepare and keep current a plan ... for the effective utilization of meteorological services and supporting research." The Department of Commerce implementation plan established the OFCM (Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology) to carry out these functions. The implementation plan also established the Federal Committee for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research to "provide high-level policy guidance to the Federal Coordinator, to review and validate proposed Federal meteorological plans, and to resolve differences which may arise in connection with the preparation, monitoring, and coordination of the Federal meteorological plan." That committee includes representatives at the assistant secretary level (or equivalent) from federal agencies involved in providing or using meteorological services, including the FAA, the Department of Defense, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. Circular A-62 limited the OFCM's role by stating that "the Federal Council for Science and Technology will continue to have cognizance over basic research in the atmospheric sciences, which includes meteorology. This also includes the supporting applied meteorological research, as defined herein, in terms of its dependence upon and contribution to the atmospheric sciences." However, the Federal Council for Science and Technology is no longer active. Circular A-62 specified that the "Department of Commerce, to the maximum extent practical and permitted by law, will provide those basic meteorological services and supporting research needed to meet the requirements of the general public or the common requirements of other agencies. The Department of Commerce will arrange for the conduct of such services by the Department, by other agencies, or by non-Federal organizations, depending upon the most effective and economical arrangements. User agencies will arrange for specialized meteorological services and supporting research when their mission requirements cannot be effectively accommodated through the basic services and supporting research.... The Department of Commerce will, to the extent consistent with effective and economical use of resources, conduct the specialized services that support the mission requirements of user agencies." 1   Circular A-62 remained in effect when the Bureau of the Budget became the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The original document remained unchanged, although it was then referred to as OMB Circular A-62. During June 1994, OMB rescinded Circular A-62 without replacement.

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--> FAA/NOAA Memorandum of Agreement On January 24, 1977, the FAA and NOAA, as the parent organization of the NWS, issued the Memorandum of Agreement Between the FAA and the NOAA for the Establishment of Working Arrangements for Providing Aviation Weather Service and Meteorological Communications. This agreement established several significant policies regarding how the FAA and NWS would work together and comply with legislative direction for planning and conducting aviation weather services and research. Paragraph 1.1, Collateral Duty Assignments As a mechanism for policy and overall program coordination between the FAA and the NOAA, the Special Assistant for Aviation Affairs, NOAA, has been assigned collateral duty as Advisor on Aviation Weather Affairs to the Administrator, FAA. A statement of the function of their assignment is contained in Appendix II [see below]. As a mechanism for research and development coordination ... a representative of the FAA's Systems Research and Development Service has been assigned collateral duty as Liaison to the ... NWS. [Specified functions of this liaison include coordinating requirements for long-and short-range aviation weather research and development plans, particularly with regard to requirements associated with interface problems between NWS and FAA systems.] Paragraph 1.2, Statements of Requirements The FAA will continually review aviation weather requirements and the Secretary of Transportation will transmit at least annually to the Secretary of Commerce a letter of recommendations in accordance with Section 310 of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, as amended. The NOAA will then have an opportunity to respond to the FAA requirements and take appropriate planning and budgetary actions. Paragraph 1.3, Joint Program Review for Planning Purposes The NOAA and the FAA will consult with each other in all long-range planning affecting aviation weather service. Paragraph 3.2.1, FAA Procurement The FAA shall normally procure, install, maintain, supply support, and operate all weather observation equipment which is required solely in support of aviation activities ... [except] where air traffic activity and/or government policy does not justify government budgetary support of an observational program. In this case, arrangements may be made for a Cooperator (i.e., the Air Line, Air Taxi, or others concerned) to provide the observations as required by Federal Aviation Regulations [at their own expense]. [Other parts of this agreement specify that the FAA will fund meteorological personnel and related display and dissemination equipment located at its facilities, and NOAA will fund personnel and equipment located at its facilities.] Paragraph 3.2.3, Program Review The FAA and NOAA shall review, jointly, existing and proposed programs and services at least annually.... Paragraph 3.4.1.2, Operating Quarters The FAA and NOAA shall occupy adjacent quarters at the same airport whenever advantageous. Where it becomes necessary to obtain new space for operating quarters, the space requirements of both FAA and the NOAA shall be incorporated in all planning as appropriate. Paragraph 4.2, Planning The FAA and NOAA will coordinate all matters having to do with making and reporting weather measurements relevant to aviation needs. Paragraph 4.3, Operating Procedures [for observations] In general, whenever an NWS staff is stationed at an airport, that staff will perform the observation functions. Where desirable ... the FAA personnel stationed at such airports will assist ... in this observational function.... At airports staffed by the FAA but not by the NWS, the FAA, subject to mutual agreement, will take the observations.... The NOAA will maintain a quality control system and should measure at least biannually the conformance of the observational system to the established standards and take follow-up action as necessary. If at certain locations it is impractical for the NOAA to perform observational quality control functions, procedures are established to delegate this function to the FAA. The NOAA will test and certificate all FAA personnel designated to participate

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--> in the aviation weather observation programs.... Paragraph 4.3.1, Automatic Weather Detection Systems Where either agency uses automatic weather detection systems to fulfill its observing requirements, it will coordinate the system output to include data needed by the other agency. Paragraph 5.3, Operating Procedures [for display systems] All requests for PWB [pilot weather briefings] for international flights will be referred to and handled by the NOAA except flights to Canada, Mexico, and certain Caribbean locations which are handled the same as domestic flights.... The NOAA will examine and certify all FAA personnel assigned to PWB duties. Paragraph 6.3, Responsibilities [for communications] The NOAA, after consultation with the FAA concerning aviation requirements, shall determine the ... content ... of the weather data to be collected and/or distributed. Paragraph 6.3.1, National Circuits The FAA, in consultation with the NOAA, has the responsibility ... [for] the national collection of observations from manned and automated sites plus the distribution of aviation weather and basic meteorological information to facilities serving aviation.... The NOAA has the responsibility ... [for] special circuits other than aviation. Paragraph 6.9, Access by Other ... Organizations and/or Individuals.... Subscribers other than the weather observing federal agencies ... shall make application to and sign an agreement with the NOAA to receive ... access to weather data.... This is to hold the Government ... harmless for any damage which may arise from the use of the data. Paragraph 8.4, Coordination [of research and development] The FAA and NOAA shall collaborate in the development of requirements for aviation weather research and development. These requirements shall be contained in the annual FAA aviation weather requirements letter submitted to the Secretary of Commerce in accordance with ... paragraph 1.2. By the first of July of each year, the FAA and the NOAA shall agree on a program plan to satisfy the research and development requirements. This program plan will be carried out by the FAA or the NOAA depending on the areas of responsibility. Paragraph 8.5, Budget Arrangements [for research and development] The FAA will fund for R&D [research and development] in aviation weather distribution, display, and presentation ... and the NOAA will fund for R&D in aviation weather forecasting, warning, and observations.... If the FAA has an overriding requirement for meteorological R&D in the NOAA area but not included in the NOAA budget, the FAA will arrange for NOAA to conduct the R&D on a reimbursable basis or ... by other suitable arrangements. Appendix II, Special Assistant for Aviation Affairs In order for the Administrator of NOAA to carry out his responsibilities under Sections 310 and 803 of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, the Special Assistant for Aviation Affairs has been established as a staff function reporting directly to the Administrator of NOAA ... [to provide] leadership regarding aviation weather service.... The Special Assistant... will be assigned collateral duty as a staff advisor on aviation weather affairs to the FAA reporting to the [FAA] Administrator for the following functions: 1. Provide advice and assistance on long-and short-range aviation weather plans and the preparation of statements of operational weather requirements.... 3. Anticipate future requirements for weather service as a result of new systems ... [that are expected to come into service], i.e., air traffic control, navigational aids, and air vehicles.... 5. Keep the FAA Administrator advised of the organizational functions and capabilities of the weather facilities supporting aviation requirements. 6. Assist in the coordination of aviation meteorological matters within the FAA and in the evaluation of user requirements.

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--> 7. Act in liaison between FAA and NOAA concerning aviation weather matters to assure that the operating weather service is responsive to the aeronautical needs. References Department of Commerce Appropriations Act of 1963, as amended and incorporated into Title 68 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Federal Aviation Act of 1958, as amended and incorporated into Title 49 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Memorandum of Agreement Between the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the Establishment of Working Arrangements for Providing Aviation Weather Service and Meteorological Communications, January 24, 1977. National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, as amended and incorporated into Title 42 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations . NRC (National Research Council). 1993. Toward a New National Weather Service—Review of Modernization Criteria. 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, and Department of Commerce Implementation Plan for Circular A-62, January 9, 1964. Organic Act of 1890, as amended and incorporated into Title 15 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Weather Services Modernization Act, Public Law 102–567, Title VII, October 1992.