Aviation Weather Hazards:

FAA System for Disseminating Severe Weather Warnings to Pilots

RCED-86-152BR: Published: Apr 22, 1986. Publicly Released: Apr 22, 1986.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) procedures for disseminating weather information to pilots.

Air traffic controllers provide pilots with weather information from a variety of sources, including National Weather Service and FAA weather advisories, reports from pilots, and airport wind-shear alert and radar surveillance systems. GAO found that: (1) since existing airport surveillance systems are not adequate for detecting and identifying all potentially dangerous weather conditions, FAA plans to deploy new surveillance radars that will be capable of timely providing more weather information; (2) FAA plans to upgrade existing wind-shear alert systems, which are currently unreliable and frequently yield false alarms; (3) controllers frequently do not timely provide pilots with available weather information; and (4) FAA is not going to implement an automated communications system before 1990. In a recent survey of controllers, GAO also found that: (1) some controllers believed that less-experienced controllers may be less able to timely provide weather information; (2) many controllers believed that they had not received adequate training in handling traffic in bad weather; and (3) during peak periods, many controllers are too busy separating traffic to timely provide weather information.

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