What is AWOS?
AWOS is an acronym for Automated Weather Observing System. It is an automated cost effective weather station which consists of a 15 foot aluminum tower outfitted with weather sensors designed to measure local wind speed, direction, gusts, temperature, dewpoint, relative humidity and barometric pressure. Weather data is transmitted up to 10 nm away and can be received using a variety of wireless receivers including: 1) voice-activated Unicom broadcast, 2) dedicated handheld, 3) internet display, and 4) telephone dial-in. It is ideal for small public-use airports, heliports, residential airparks, seaplane bases and private landing strips.
Why do I need AWOS when I can get my weather from nearby airports or via the Internet?
The only weather report that’s truly valid is the one that’s real-time. For example, you can check the weather at the FBO, go to take off fifteen minutes later and be operating with weather that’s over an hour old and often not specific to your location… same thing with ATIS on a gusty variable day! Real-time current weather specific to your take off or landing site can reduce your chance of a weather related accident by as much as 75% (according to NTSB records).
What are the primary causes of fatal accidents involving General Aviation aircraft?
The primary causes of fatal accidents across all classes of aircraft for 1999 were: 1) maneuvering flight, 2) approaches, and 3) weather. While weather-related accidents dropped ever so slightly in 1999, they continue to have the highest probability of deaths. Weather related mishaps accounted for 12.4% of all fatal pilot-related accidents while 75% of weather-related accidents involved fatalities (2000 Nall Report, AOPA Air Safety Foundation).
What are the leading causes of General Aviation weather accidents?
According to the NTSB, wind was cited as a cause/factor in over 76% of General Aviation weather-related accidents:
Crosswind – 28%
Gusts – 24%
Tailwind – 8%
High Wind – 8%
Unfavorable/variable winds – 6%
Whirlwinds/wind shifts – 2%
Other factors included:
Low ceiling or fog – 18%
High Density altitude – 8%
What is the useful range of AWOS weather information?
The system transmits weather data line-of-sight up to 10 nautical miles (and it some cases up to 35 nm away). Real-time weather info can be received in the cockpit 24/7 using voice-activated Unicom transmissions or thru the use of a dedicated handheld receiver. While the weather data can be accessed over many miles, pilots should keep in mind the temporal nature of weather between their actual position and the AWOS weather station that is being queried.
Why do I need AWOS when I can call in on UNICOM and get the local weather?
The answer to this question becomes evident when you ask other questions such as: 1) Is the FBO using aviation quality weather instruments? 2) Is the FBO radio operator trained to read weather instruments? 3) Can you get wind gust info, crosswind/headwind components, density altitude and condensation altitude (aka cloud base) info? 4) Is the Unicom operator also tasked with other responsibilities including renting planes, pumping gas and selling flight materials? 5) Is the Unicom operator on duty 24 hours?
What are the restrictions to using AWOS outside of the U.S.?
You must check with the local radio licensing agencies to obtain the appropriate licenses… we will supply you with all the relevant information to do so. Presented with AWOS’s sophisticated and smartly engineered technology (2 watt maximum power, auto-listening to assure non-interference, multiple frequency option to avoid interference and line of sight transmission in the 460 MHz range), most countries will provide licenses to operate the radio transmitter. Please be advised that use in commercial operations may require additional approvals.
The standard AWOS tower with a solar cell and 12 volt DC battery back-up can be installed in as little as a half day. If 110 volts AC or 220 volts AC (available internationally) is used, an electrical line may have to be installed which meet local electrical code requirements requiring extra time.
Who makes AWOS?
AWOS is offered by The Belfort Instrument Company, a 125 year old firm that is today a leading provider of weather instruments to the government and professional meteorology markets. From wind sensors for the Wright brothers to state-of-the-art weather instruments for the ASOS platform and all US Navy aircraft carriers, Belfort is the name that aviators around the world rely upon.