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Government

US House Approves Legislation Preserving Airport Weather Program Through FY 2017

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Eisenhower National Airport Facebook
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The exterior of Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport.

An aviation bill working its way to President Obama will keep an airport weather reporting program in place at Wichita’s Eisenhower National Airport through fiscal year 2017.

The legislation keeps the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from terminating the Contract Weather Observer (CWO) program at Eisenhower and 56 other mid-size airports until the agency does a thorough review of the issue.

Weather observers provide real-time data for airports, pilots and the National Weather Service office. The FAA was planning to end the CWO and shift weather observations to air traffic controllers in the tower at those targeted airports.

Congressman Mike Pompeo says weather observers are important in south-central Kansas because the airspace is used for flight testing and military operations, in addition to general and commercial air service.

"This provision will guarantee future operations in the near term and force the FAA to examine and report on the safety and operational risk associated with closing the CWO program on a case-by-case basis," he says.

The Contract Weather Observer provision is in legislation that keeps the FAA operating and funded through the next fiscal year. The U.S. House has passed the legislation, and the Senate is expected to pass it in the next few days. It will be sent to President Obama for his signature. He’s expected to sign it before Friday, when a short-term extension for the FAA expires.

The bill is aimed at boosting airport security, reducing screening lines and refunding fees to passengers whose luggage is lost or arrives late.

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Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.

 
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