Senator Collins’ Amendment to Prohibit the Closing of Contract Weather Observer Service at Airports Passes Senate

Amendment Would Protect Jobs in Portland and Bangor, Help Keep Airports Across the Country Safe

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Senate unanimously passed an amendment authored by Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, that would prohibit the closing of the contract weather observer (CWO) service.  The amendment was attached to the FAA Reauthorization Act, which is currently being considered by the U.S. Senate.  

In May 2015, the FAA proposed cutting contract weather observers at 57 of the nation’s airports.  CWOs are meteorological professionals that record weather and climate data and supply that information to pilots, airlines, the National Weather Service, and local news meteorologists.  Many airports around the country also use an automated weather observing system, but this system has limitations and is not designed to report any weather around the airport that has not yet encountered a sensor.  In noting this limitation, the FAA has used trained weather observers to work to ensure safety at our airports, which is particularly important when conditions are icy.  Now, however, the FAA is proposing to cut the contract weather observer service and give their responsibilities to air traffic controllers at the targeted airports. 

Senator Collins' bipartisan amendment would help to ensure the safety of our airports and protect jobs at the Portland International Jetport, the Bangor International Airport, and nearly sixty other airports across the country.

“Contract weather observers are vital to ensuring that flights in and out of our airports are safe for air crews and passengers in Maine and across our country,” said Senator Collins.  “Delegating this responsibility to air traffic controllers, who must also monitor and manage air traffic, poses an unnecessary safety risk. I am so pleased that the bipartisan amendment I authored to prohibit cuts to the important contract weather observer service was unanimously adopted by the U.S. Senate. I look forward to working with my colleagues to send this legislation to the President for his signature.”