AWOS Weather Station at the Klawock Airport Inoperable, Making Medivac Flights Impossible - P.O.W. Report

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

AWOS Weather Station at the Klawock Airport Inoperable, Making Medivac Flights Impossible

  • Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) units are operated and controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration. These systems are among the oldest automated weather stations and predate ASOS. They generally report at 20-minute intervals and do not report special observations for rapidly changing weather conditions. [source]
  • The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Instrument Flying Handbook defines IFR as: "Rules and regulations established by the FAA to govern flight under conditions in which flight by outside visual reference is not safe. IFR flight depends upon flying by reference to instruments in the flight deck, and navigation is accomplished by reference to electronic signals." It is also a term used by pilots and controllers to indicate the type of flight plan an aircraft is flying, such as an IFR or VFR flight plan. [Source]
  • AWOS went down at the Klawock airport on May 7th and took 5 days to repair
  • AWOS was also inoperable on April 16th and took 4 days to repair
  • When the AWOS malfunctions, emergency flights in bad weather or evenings will not happen. 

Written on May 7th:

Hello everyone,

I am extremely displeased to report that just two weeks after the NWS repaired the AWOS weather station at the Klawock Airport it is once again out of service and all IFR flights including Medivacs are grounded for the entire Prince of Wales Island community. The repair two weeks ago took four days to complete and over $6,000 of donated flights by Island Air Express in order to be repaired. Just to be clear, this issue is not a National Weather Service (NWS) Juneau maintenance personnel issue failure, rather it’s the NWS refusing to replace very old and outdated equipment at the Klawock Airport station. Now that the island community is once again held hostage to the lack of modern weather equipment and without IFR mail, freight, and Medivac service is it unreasonable to ask that the NWS, FAA, or even the State of Alaska to install a weather reporting system that is reliable enough to function more than 14 days between multiday repairs?

What’s the short term solution?
Gene with the NWS in Juneau needs to once again get immediate authorization to send the technician back down to Klawock from Juneau and investigate the issue, order the parts, wait for the parts to arrive, and then install the parts.

What’s the long term solution?
Either NWS, FAA, or the State of Alaska needs to upgrade this old weather system with a modern, more reliable system commonly installed at most airports throughout the country. If the federal agencies continue to refuse to upgrade this system than maybe it’s time for the State to use the funds its received from the FAA annually. Thanks to the annual enplanement levels for the past 3+ years the Klawock Airport has earned the State of Alaska approximately $1,000,000 per year for infrastructure upgrades. Most of these funds go to anyone of the 230+ state owned airports that the state chooses and not to the Klawock Airport. In addition the State of Alaska just received $49,000,000 in CARES ACT funds designated specifically for its rural airports. On page 3 of the attached document it shows that the FAA determined the Klawock Airport qualified for over $1,000,000 of CARES ACT funding. Isn’t it time that the Klawock Airport and residents of Prince of Wales Island benefit from the federal funds it earns for the state?

Its above my pay grade to determine who, how, or when the Klawock Airport will finally be brought up to modern weather reporting standards, but as the owner of a scheduled IFR airline based at the Klawock Airport that provides daily scheduled passenger, mail, and freight service to Prince of Wales Island it is very disturbing that our company and the customers we serve continue to be held hostage to such unreliable & outdated weather equipment. Now that all IFR flight operations are grounded for the second time in two weeks the disruption clock once again starts ticking as we all wait for what will very likely be another multi-day repair to the weather station.

Best regards,

Scott Van Valin
Director of Operations
Island Air Express

Please contact your legislator and the National Weather Service so that this reoccuring issue may be solved long-term.



National Weather Service
Juneau, AK
8500 Mendenhall Loop Road
Juneau, AK 99801

Gene Petrescu
Acting Meteorologist in Charge
WFO Juneau

Share, like and subscribe to this site
Send a tip or a story or a classified or hatemail to
Support this site and make a small donation 
Ads just 10$ a month

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.