As of 1:00 PM on Tuesday afternoon, 24 hour weather observers at the Estevan Airport are no longer the eyes on the skies, reporting the latest conditions for pilots. The system has been officially switched over to an entirely automated readout, to be interpreted by aviators for flight planning purposes.
"We are doing quite a bit of conversions from manned to automated, and Estevan was a part of it. However, before we did we had consultations with the users of the airport and we did a full aeronautical study, which takes into consideration all the safety issues, and the AWOS was deemed to be as safe, if not safer than the current system," stated Ron Singer, a spokesperson for NavCanada, the corporation that oversees aviation services across the country.
"In addition, we do have cameras at the airport that you could call up on the internet, so pilots can also check and see an image that's updated every ten minutes. Airports that size and even larger have been going that way, and this is just part of it."
Among the upgrades at the Estevan Airport will be the installation of a whole slough of equipment, a ceilometer (to measure cloud height), a wind meter and other pieces that provide vital information for arriving or departing aircraft. Additionally, pilots will be able to tune to a specific radio frequency and hear an audio readout of the latest report.
"The Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) really is the cutting edge, it's the state of the art equipment. It's a tried and true proven system and operates very effectively, and there's a lot of pilot support for having it," said Singer.