Opinion: Allocation of federal repair services seems inequitable

I was interested to see that the flight cancellations in Yakutat made the newspaper headlines on Wednesday, Dec. 8. Alaska Airlines had to cancel several flights into and out of Yakutat due to the failure of the Automated Weather/Surface Observation System (ASOS /AWOS); I hope it hasn’t caused too much disruption for residents there. I am a resident of Juneau and work as a a pilot for a commuter airline in western Alaska. We have to constantly cancel and reroute flights in our region because the aviation weather reporting systems for the dozens of towns and villages in western Alaska are constantly broken. While the remoteness and extreme weather play an understandable role, there is no sense of urgency to fix inoperative equipment. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the problem, but this issue gets no attention and I feel it deserves some. The Villages we fly to only receive their mail and groceries by air service. When the weather is bad (which it is frequently) and the ASOS/AWOS systems are inoperative we are unable to bring in groceries or mail and take out residents for necessities such as medical appointments. Broken weather reporting systems in western Alaska have been the rule not the exception over the previous 2 winters. In most cases, the State is responsible for runway maintenance and the Federal Government is responsible for weather station maintenance. Last winter, when three stations all next to each other (HPB, VAK, SCM) had inoperative weather reporting I contacted Congressman Young’s office twice. The first time I received no reply and the second time an aide told me they would look into it but I never heard back and the issue persisted. I don’t like to draw conclusions without all the background information but I can’t help feel that if the Villages of Western Alaska were more affluent they would be receiving far better maintenance of weather reporting facilities. The allocation of federal repair services seems inequitable to me.

Brad Moschetti,


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