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NATCA Denounces Commerce Secy. Decision to Advance Plan to Close Weather Service Units at Regional FAA Centers - (6/4/2009)

WASHINGTON – The nation’s air traffic controllers today are strongly denouncing Commerce Secretary Gary Locke’s decision to move forward with a controversial plan to close the National Weather Service Center Weather Service Units (CWSUs) located at each of the 21 FAA regional en route centers and consolidate the service into two facilities, in Maryland and Kansas City.        

Said NATCA President Patrick Forrey: “This is a foolish plan that puts cost savings ahead of safety. Quite frankly, we cannot believe such a reckless idea has gotten this far. The public needs to know that if put into place, this plan would directly and negatively affect the margin of safety for the air traffic control system.” 

Currently, National Weather Service meteorologists are stationed in weather forecast units inside each one of the FAA’s Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC) – called en route centers for short. This system was put in place in 1978 as a result of a recommendation made by the National Transportation Safety Board. The FAA’s inability to quickly disseminate information regarding hazardous weather to flight crews was found to be a major contributing factor in the 1977 crash of a Southern Airways DC-9 in New Hope, Ga.   

If the Department of Commerce’s plan is implemented, air traffic controllers will no longer have the immediate expertise of an on-site meteorologist to advise them where to route aircraft experiencing difficulty when weather conditions play a critical role in that decision. Therefore, NATCA and the National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO) are urging an end to this plan due to both organizations’ concern that the flying public will be at risk if controllers are suddenly unable to quickly send hazardous weather information to flight crews.  

“As our NATCA facility representative at Fort Worth Center, Russ Miller, has said, this is the kind of ill-conceived cost-savings that turns out to be tragically expensive the day after a disaster,” Forrey said. “There is absolutely no good or sensible reason to end what has been a key part of our ability to call our system the world’s safest. None whatsoever.”  

NATCA representatives at en route centers nationwide have been outspoken in their opposition to the plan over the last several months. To view their press releases, please see the list below:  

1. Memphis Center (ZME): http://www.natca.org/press_releases.aspx?aID=1915#1915

2. Boston Center (ZBW): http://www.natca.org/press_releases.aspx?aID=1916#1916 

3. Indianapolis Center (ZID): http://www.natca.org/press_releases.aspx?aID=1919#1919

4. Miami Center (ZMA): http://www.natca.org/press_releases.aspx?aID=1920#1920  

5. Los Angeles Center (ZLA):  http://www.natca.org/press_releases.aspx?aID=1922#1922

6. Anchorage Center (ZAN): http://www.natca.org/press_releases.aspx?aID=1925#1925

7. Denver Center (ZDV): http://www.natca.org/press_releases.aspx?aID=1924#1924

8. Houston Center (ZHU): http://www.natca.org/mediacenter/press-release-detail.aspx?id=572  

9. Seattle Center (ZSE): http://www.natca.org/mediacenter/press-release-detail.aspx?id=578  

10. Kansas City Center (ZKC): http://www.natca.org/mediacenter/press-release-detail.aspx?id=577    

11. Jacksonville Center (ZJX): http://www.natca.org/mediacenter/press-release-detail.aspx?id=576  

12. Salt Lake City Center (ZLC): http://www.natca.org/mediacenter/press-release-detail.aspx?id=581  

13. Minneapolis Center (ZMP): http://www.natca.org/mediacenter/press-release-detail.aspx?id=583  

14. Washington Center (ZDC): http://www.natca.org/mediacenter/press-release-detail.aspx?id=580  

15. Albuquerque Center (ZAB): http://www.natca.org/mediacenter/press-release-detail.aspx?id=582  

16. Oakland Center (ZOA): http://www.natca.org/mediacenter/press-release-detail.aspx?id=586  

17. Chicago Center (ZAU): http://www.natca.org/mediacenter/press-release-detail.aspx?id=585  

18. Atlanta Center (ZTL): http://www.natca.org/mediacenter/press-release-detail.aspx?id=584  

19. Cleveland Center (ZOB): http://www.natca.org/mediacenter/press-release-detail.aspx?id=588 

20. Fort Worth Center (ZFW): http://www.natca.org/mediacenter/press-release-detail.aspx?id=590

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