By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer
BELLEVUE, NEB. — Some pilots flying over the United States today will be getting their weather information from a different source.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Air Force Weather Agency will be forecasting and transmitting weather bulletins to pilots.
The activity is part of a test to see if the Air Force can efficiently take the place of the National Weather Service.
“We’re showing that we can handle the job,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Sadovsky, who is stationed at Offutt Air Force Base outside Omaha.
The test is not aimed at permanently replacing the weather service, he said – only as a backup should the weather service station in Kansas City, which provides aviation forecasts, fail for technical reasons.
It affects only the flight areas around four busy airports – Boston’s Logan, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago’s O’Hare, and Miami International.
The Air Force will be in charge of reporting areas of icing and turbulance to civilians – a service they already provide for all military flights.
But the military formats data in a slightly different format – for the technically inclined, they don’t recognize sigmets and airmets in the same way – and the Air Force will be switching over to the civilian format for the test period.
“We’ll be talking to the civilian public in their language,” Sergeant Sadovsky said.
He said his agency takes over civilian forecasting several times a year and will be doubling their in-house staff for today’s test.