Belfort Instrument History

Belfort Instrument Old Factory

The Belfort Instrument Company was founded in 1876 in Baltimore, Maryland by Julien Friez. His vision was to furnish customers with instruments of uniform excellence and of highest reliability at fair prices so as to set the Standard of Measurement for the industry.

Julien Pierre Friez, a scientific instrument maker, came to the U.S. from Alsace in the 1870′s and settled in Philadelphia. In 1876 Friez set up shop in Baltimore at the Corner of German and Grant Streets. Friez named his factory Belfort in honor of the French victory at the siege of Belfort (1870-71) in the Franco-Prussian war.

The Lion of Belfort adopted by Friez as his company symbol is a huge red stone lion in Belfort France erected by Frédéric Bartholdi — sculptor of the Statue of Liberty — to commemorate the French victory. The Belfort Meteorological Observatory still stands at the corner of East Baltimore Street and Central Avenue in the Jonestown neighborhood of Baltimore.

Belfort Instrument forged its leadership role in the development of meteorological instruments through extensive cooperation with the then newly formed U.S. Weather Bureau. Through these efforts, the Belfort Observatory became the first meteorological Observatory and Instrument Laboratory in the United States by 1896.

Over the years, Belfort Instrument products have been deployed in mission critical applications in virtually all corners of the globe and beyond. From providing wind sensors for the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, NC to the development of mapping instruments in support of early efforts to map the surface of the moon, Belfort Instrument has been at the forefront of environmental measurement and is a leader in the design, manufacture and maintenance of advanced environmental measurement systems.

During the 1990’s, Belfort Instrument began its research efforts around the challenges of automated weather observations. When the U.S. National Weather Service announced plans to automate routine surface weather observations, Belfort responded to the challenge and demonstrated its leadership role by designing and qualifying three new sensors for the extensive ASOS (Automated Surface Observing System) program. These advanced ASOS sensors have been deployed in over 1200 locations throughout the world. These sensors have dramatically improved system efficiency and improved the overall quality and timeliness of routine observations.

Having celebrated its 125th anniversary, Belfort Instrument has extended its leadership position beyond its traditional meteorological focus over the last decade into other exciting markets while remaining loyal to its founders vision for quality, reliability, product support and value. Belfort Instrument’s Baltimore facility is currently comprised of the following product divisions:

Meteorological Products

Under the Belfort Instrument brand, the company offers a broad range of highly reliable meteorological/environmental instruments that accurately measure visibility, wind, precipitation, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and ceiling height as well as other standard meteorological parameters. These products serve a worldwide audience in the professional meteorology, aviation, maritime, and highway safety markets.

Belfort AWOS AV – Digital Weather Systems

Under the Belfort Instrument brand, the company launched an advanced, patented weather system design to address the urgent need for delivering real-time, mission critical weather information via wireless transmission. Belfort AWOS AV provides high quality, up-to-the-minute weather conditions to ground personnel and aircraft operators resulting in enhanced aircraft/flight safety and operational performance. This scalable, fully automated system includes all the hardware/software needed for a comprehensive data acquisition and distribution solution delivered through various medium including PC terminal, telephone, Internet and VHF radio transmissions and is comprised of key sensors designed and manufactured and/or distributed by Belfort.

Summary of technical experience with NAS equipment
Belfort Instrument Company has been involved in the design, development and production of NAS system hardware, firmware and software as a primary business activity since the company’s founding in 1876. The following represents significant programs in which Belfort has played a significant role along with a listing of the NAS system components supplied and supported.

Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) Program

The Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) is an automated observing system being sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration, National Weather Service (NWS) and the Department of Defense (DOD). ASOS provides weather observations, which include: temperature, dew point, wind, altimeter setting, visibility, sky condition, and precipitation. The FAA has sponsored 569 ASOS installation sites and 313 have been sponsored by NWS at airports throughout the country.

US Air Force OS-21/FSB Fixed Base Airport Weather System

Belfort Instrument Company also supplies and supports the visibility, runway visual range, and ambient light sensors for the US Air Force OS-21/FSB fixed base airport weather system. This system, to be installed at over 200 airports worldwide, represents the latest in the application of COTS sensor technology to sophisticated weather systems.

Belfort AWOS AV

Several years ago, Belfort launched its revolutionary Belfort AWOS AV in a bid to expand its presence in the aviation weather products and services market. This system was originally designed to bring aviation grade weather reporting capabilities to general aviation airports unable to afford the current line of FAA approved Automated Weather Observation (AWOS) products. The product has enjoyed strong market acceptance due to its unique wireless architecture which is designed to significantly reduce both installation and maintenance costs. As well, Belfort AWOS AV’s digital architecture and Internet based monitoring capability combined with its “plug and play” design enable the end user to significantly reduce its ongoing maintenance, support and training costs.

Belfort AWOS AV provides high quality, up-to-the-minute weather conditions to ground personnel and pilots through several media options resulting in enhanced aircraft/light safety and operational performance. Belfort has successfully integrated the latest web, wireless and voice recognition technologies to deliver real time, local weather information automatically over UNICOM or discreet frequencies, telephone, Internet, or on its wireless handheld device.

All of our recent systems embody sophisticated built in diagnostic and fault isolation software and firmware algorithms.

Belfort’s AWOS AV was recently approved as an AWOS by the FAA. Belfort Instrument Company continues to support all sensors and systems with inspection, testing, repair and upgrade activities.