Airport weather observers keeping their jobs - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Airport weather observers keeping their jobs

Posted: Updated:
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

As often as the weather changes in the Tennessee Valley, airline pilots and air traffic controllers have to constantly be on alert. But the people in the towers can't watch the planes and watch the weather, too.

Weather observation and recording are up to a separate group of people, trained and certified for the job, jobs they almost lost.

Nearly a year ago, Charles Starrett thought he and his crew would be out of work by now. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had plans to ground the weather observer operation by cutting all personnel by this summer's end, transferring their duties to the control tower.

"Very detrimental to aviation safety if the air traffic controllers took over and did the observations," says Starrett, senior observer at the Chattanooga Airport.

Doubling the workload of tower personnel, but not the staff. Starrett this has led to errors at airfields where observers were cut years ago.

Last fall Starrett and observers from 56 other offices on the chopping block hit a wall trying to convince the FAA of the potential danger, trying to save their jobs at the same time. They went to their representatives for help.

"Communicating with our congressmen, senators, keeping them informed on what the FAA is doing," says Starrett.

Their persistence paid off. Congress passed the "FAA Extension, Safety and Security Act of 2016" which president Obama signed last month, allowing for the hundreds of jobs to remain, and safe air travel to be maintained.

"That was a relief off our shoulders," says Starrett. "That gave us more time to fight."

His spirits are soaring, but Starrett says there's more work to do to make the positions secure for many years down the road. He wants to educate Congress and gain lobbying power when confronting capitol hill.

"We've taken on this plan to organize an association of weather observers," adds Starrett.

An advantage that many tower employees already have.

But Starrett isn't taking the air out from under the wings of the traffic controllers. He know we need them. Rather, he's emphasizing the importance of them working with the weather observers.

"The more eyes on the sky, the more safe we'll be," says Starrett.

The weather observers' jobs are secure through September of 2017.

  • NewsMore>>

  • Amazing Weather Settling In

    Amazing Weather Settling In

    Wednesday, August 23 2017 5:24 AM EDT2017-08-23 09:24:47 GMT

    Good Wednesday.  Today is special because it marks the first day we see our average temperature start to recede.  The average high for yesterday's date was 90.  The average high for today's date is 89. As we progress through today we will notice our humidity levels dropping and skies clearing.  Temperatures will also be about 5 degrees lower than yesterday (93 was the high in Chattanooga Tuesday).  The bottom line: awesome weather is settling in.

    More

    Good Wednesday.  Today is special because it marks the first day we see our average temperature start to recede.  The average high for yesterday's date was 90.  The average high for today's date is 89. As we progress through today we will notice our humidity levels dropping and skies clearing.  Temperatures will also be about 5 degrees lower than yesterday (93 was the high in Chattanooga Tuesday).  The bottom line: awesome weather is settling in.

    More
  • UPDATE: David Roddy confirmed as new chief of Chattanooga Police Department

    UPDATE: David Roddy confirmed as new chief of Chattanooga Police Department

    Wednesday, August 23 2017 5:18 AM EDT2017-08-23 09:18:22 GMT
    New CPD Chief David RoddyNew CPD Chief David Roddy

    Now, David Roddy can officially drop the qualifier "acting" from his job title and simply go by chief of the Chattanooga Police Department.

    More

    Now, David Roddy can officially drop the qualifier "acting" from his job title and simply go by chief of the Chattanooga Police Department.

    More
  • Heritage to host Ringgold in our FNF3 Game of the Week

    Heritage to host Ringgold in our FNF3 Game of the Week

    Wednesday, August 23 2017 12:00 AM EDT2017-08-23 04:00:41 GMT
    Week two features another cross town rivalry in our Friday Night Football Game of the Week with Heritage hosting Ringgold. Ringgold has won nine straight meetings dating back to when Heritage's first year open in 2008. The Generals had the Tigers on the ropes last year in our Game of the Week but fell in overtime 40-34. We'll hear from both teams leading up to Friday when Ch. 3 Sports Reporter Jill Jelnick will be live at Heritage High School with pre and post game live coverage. ...More
    Week two features another cross town rivalry in our Friday Night Football Game of the Week with Heritage hosting Ringgold. Ringgold has won nine straight meetings dating back to when Heritage's first year open in 2008. The Generals had the Tigers on the ropes last year in our Game of the Week but fell in overtime 40-34. We'll hear from both teams leading up to Friday when Ch. 3 Sports Reporter Jill Jelnick will be live at Heritage High School with pre and post game live coverage. ...More
Powered by Frankly