SAWS becoming Unafordable

South African Weather Service.

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kosie
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by kosie » Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:16 am

It was another difficult meeting with a relatively positive outcome. I made it very clear to them that we will not tolerate the practice of a private company (FF) using state resources (SAWS) to extort money from us, under no circumstances. After much deliberation they had to admit that a significant proportion of general aviation falls within the ambit of the "public good" and should therefore be entitled to free information, as opposed to commercial aviation which should pay. The meeting ended, like all such meetings, with a workshop scheduled for late February. At that workshop we are expected to thrash out these issues. (Another day out of our lives :roll: )
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by RudiGreyling » Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:32 pm

kosie wrote:It was another difficult meeting with a relatively positive outcome. I made it very clear to them that we will not tolerate the practice of a private company (FF) using state resources (SAWS) to extort money from us, under no circumstances. After much deliberation they had to admit that a significant proportion of general aviation falls within the ambit of the "public good" and should therefore be entitled to free information, as opposed to commercial aviation which should pay. The meeting ended, like all such meetings, with a workshop scheduled for late February. At that workshop we are expected to thrash out these issues. (Another day out of our lives :roll: )
Good but in the mean time the changes on website and access has been made leaving most without the information.
Can't they reflect back to original, while this is being resolved?

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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by Laeveld Louis » Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:48 pm

Baie DANKIE Kosie =D> =D> .......I'm a proud AOPA SA member :!:
Live every day!
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by kalahariB » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:23 pm

Somehow I am thinking that these issues may have a common root. Perhaps some of the keyboard wizards could have a look at whether the FF crew of Chris--wiz and Barry are perhaps involved.

In the meantime, Weatherunderrgound and Kobus Botha are providing all the weather info I need.


http://saweatherobserver.blogspot.com/2 ... frica.html
09 March 2011
Update: Seismic Events in South Africa: Earthquake Information no more freely accessible to the man in the street!!
The following posts refer. Click HERE and HERE

SAWDIS: South African citizens ready yourself to pay for essential earthquake information in South Africa. Yet another semi-government institution wants money for essential information that has already been paid for by the taxpayer. Yes you guessed correctly the Council for Geoscience is now also going the money/subscription route. What is happening is really alarming and to the detriment of the general public of South Africa. No more free South African earthquake information to the man in the street. So dig out your purse and pay.....or go without the information. The SAWDIS will not pay for essential earthquake information. The SAWDIS has an alternative. Lookout for this topic soon to be published.

I received the following email from Eddie Gagiano:

"Soos verwag reg van die begin af gaan hierdie klomp nou 'n "supscription
service" instel. Privatisering is ons voorland."

Eddie received the following email from the Council for Geoscience:

Sent: Tuesday, March 08, 2011 11:15 AM
Subject: Re: Council for Geoscience: Seismic Data


Dear E Gagiano

Thank you for your email.

We are planning to implement a subscription service, but we have not yet
done so. We will probably advertise on our website when it becomes active.

kind regards
michelle

Posted by SAWDIS at 3/09/2011 10:05:00 AM
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by amtr » Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:08 am

This is just gonna make GA unsafe :( I wuldnt mind paying if i was operating a charter business or an airline but i dont think someone who flies on weekends in his 2 seater or a 4 seater should be paying 250 bucks for metars and tafs. As far as calling saws and asking them for weather, Good luck :) coz ill give you a better weather report looking outta my window ( They wrong most of the times )
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by FAPE » Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:36 am

I am largely unaware of the work that FF does. Firstly I am not kept up to speed and secondly for my own mental health, like most scientists in the organisation, I religiously stick to science and dissemminating scientific information to clients, leaving the business side to others.

What I would like to add to this debate, are some of the reasons why I still work for SAWS.

1. Satellite and RADAR.
There is no other place where I can access the resolution and frequency of satellite images that SAWS has. This is very important. 15 minute updates on satellite imagery makes SAWS the most powerful source of nowcasting aviation weather. Only with this frequency can you marry the model data with the actual weather. The selection of channels of satellite imagery also allows for far better analysis than any other web based product out there. Websites with satellite images give pilots a false sence of what is about to happen. Without looking at the last few satellite images or alternatively having an informed background picture in your mind, single images are deceiving.

I cannot remember how many CFI's and pilots with 1000+ GA flight hours have told me: "I look at x and y on the net and then the RADAR and sat pic, rather than phoning SAWS to have my TAFs and METARs read to me". Are you trained in satellite and RADAR analysis? Your PPL and CPL syllabus certainly does not contain that. If you were trained in satellite and RADAR, you would learn very quickly how deceiving single images are. Meteorologists use animation. I cannot see that in the near future a single website will provide you with satellite and RADAR information good enough to base your go/no-go decision on.

Does a single 30min old RADAR or satellite image give you an idea? Of course it does! Is it adequate? It is so inadequate, that it is the singlemost important reason why I decided not to leave SAWS and sit and forecast from home with hourly satellite images via ADSL.

2. Paying for a service.
If I was to leave SAWS, how will I make money? By charging pilots for my services! In order to sustain myself, I would need to get about 10% of pilots in SA to become my clients. How reliable will my MET data be? Less reliable than that of SAWS. SAWS calibrates their automatic weather stations every 60 days. Airport weather instruments by law need only be calibrated 4 times a year. The calibration standards are international standards regulated by a UN division known as World Met Organisation. Websites with actual data mostly provide unregulated data. In other words there is no control over whether a wind reading is form a suburban area with 500 15m high Blue Gum trees or an open veld well exposed to wind. Where are the calibration certificates of the instrumentation, especially of the pressure sensors producing QNH data?

3. Time for development.
If I was working for myself there would be no means of improving my skills other than constantly gaining experience. There will be no time for much needed refresher courses, research or exposure to other large MET organisations world wide. I have received training from Transport Canada as well as Eumetsat.

To be continued...
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by FAPE » Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:11 am

What have you done other than rant here on AVCOM?

Have you taken up your grievances with SAWS? Some have, meeting with SAWS and reporting back on progress made. Have the forecasters stopped being mere readers of TAFs and METARs? If not, have you reported it? SAWS have customer feedback forms which you are entitled to fill in and email to a manager.

Why do I see the following: 50 aviation phone calls to the PE office daily of which 45 on average are from students. In other words once the guys qualify, sionara SAWS. Why are we good enough for students but not anyone else? Why would flight schools entrust the safety of their students to us, but weekenders flying innocent family members around do the internet thing?

I ask this since these are the questions that management ask me, and I cannot answer them. As long as I cannot answer them, I cannot be of much help to my AVCOM friends.
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by kosie » Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:44 am

Deon
There is a meeting at SAWS this morning and AOPA will be there. Funny thing though, SAWS have been extra secretive about the agenda.
Our position is this: In which other country does one have to pay for the services we have to? Yes, we will gladly pay for NEXRAD type of services, but they seem unable to provide it. SAWS are holding us to ransom for their satellite and radar images because they have the monopoly and they know it. I just wonder who funded those radar and satellite facilities in the first place? The tax payers of course and the aviation public represent a very significant proportion of that body of people. We have funded it and now we have to pay for it again.
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by echodelta » Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:51 am

Thanks for your valuable posts Deon.

When I check up on the weather about 80% or more of my planning is done using the SAWS spot graphs. These graphs have proven themselves to me time and again and they allow me to form a picture of the weather in my head over my intended route. I find it hard forming this same picture for myself by speaking to a SAWS forecaster over the phone. I think it's mainly because I probably have trouble asking the right questions to a guy over the phone. I like to see things for myself. For me, the ultimate tool that SAWS can place in the hands of the pilot is something that he can look at visually without having to analyse anything himself.

The recent "user pays" stance that SAWS has taken does not hold ground for me. The argument supposedly being that one cannot justify that the average tax payer should pay for a service that only an "elite" few (aka pilots) use. I bet the average tax payer's concern about the use of his tax money is probably more focused on the contribution toward oversized, black, german automobiles with flashing lights and the hire of private jets for trips to Disneyland. I am pretty sure the average tax payer wouldn't mind some of his tax money going towards ensuring safe flight.

Did SAWS see a decrease in telephone calls to MET when they implemented the fee? I am sure they did. Where did these pilots now get their info from? I am sure some didn't bother to get MET info anymore, while those who were proficient in using the web got their info from the SAWS website. Now that SAWS started charging for use of the website too, you will most certainly see an increase in pilots just using other (probably less reliable) websites, or using nothing at all.

Luckily I can still get to the spot graphs. For how long still, I don't know... :(
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by FAPE » Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:27 am

I do not know if the 'tax payer' wording is still displayed on the website. I complained about that, stating that the majority of users are students, either not yet earning money and paying tax, or foreigners that do not pay tax in this country. I also pointed out that these statements point towards a warped image of who the client is. At present there are individuals within the organisation who are looking at several issues surrounding aviation weather costs.

I agree with your statement that over the phone a pilot battles to visualize the weather. We see that here in PE where students come and get a briefing from us and we are able to show them live satellite imagery and explain model data to them.

I would like to see flight training institutions building more relationships with SAWS. This is an investment for both the future of SAWS aviation and flight safety.

While I respect the situation of SAWS in terms of generating income, I think they need to work very closely with the aviation industry when it comes to costing. As for me, I just want to give pilots satellite analysis. that is the best value added service I can do on shift.
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by echodelta » Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:56 am

FAPE wrote:While I respect the situation of SAWS in terms of generating income, I think they need to work very closely with the aviation industry when it comes to costing.
Definitely. If SAWS don't do that they run a very real risk of losing the GA pilots.
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by tanglefoot » Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:19 am

FAPE wrote:..........I would like to see flight training institutions building more relationships with SAWS. This is an investment for both the future of SAWS aviation and flight safety..........
Deon, isn't this where the problem lies :?:

Who is the customer :?: Surely the flight training institutions are the customers :!: Therefore it is up to SAWS to do the relationship building :idea: I realise that you may not have meant it in the way that you posted it but you have just reinforced a perception that has been created by FF over the past year. SAWS must work on improving the relationship and dispel the perception that they only need the GA pilots to fund FutureForesight's 911 Porsches.

If I sent an email to my customers complaining that they had failed to build 'more' of a relationship with me I would be out of business [-X
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by FAPE » Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:38 am

Hi tanglefoot.

I simply report what i see... :twisted: :twisted: I agree it is up to SAWS to approach the customer. I just don't hear SAWS mention the training institutions in their communications with the forecasters - certainly not the plebs down here in PE.
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by wynand » Fri Sep 23, 2011 1:27 pm

amtr wrote:This is just gonna make GA unsafe :( I wuldnt mind paying if i was operating a charter business or an airline but i dont think someone who flies on weekends in his 2 seater or a 4 seater should be paying 250 bucks for metars and tafs. As far as calling saws and asking them for weather, Good luck :) coz ill give you a better weather report looking outta my window ( They wrong most of the times )
Hi amtr.

You echo the sentiments of the majority of private and recreational flyers, and you also echo the mistake most everyone makes.

Like so many other pilots, you just assume that you have to pay for METARS And TAFS.
I don't blame you for thinking so, because the SAWS sites are rather unfriendly and one is easily left with the feeling that one has to pay for any aviation info.

The METARS, TAFS, Speci's and airport webcams are FREE!

Also, if you care to register with http://aviation.weathersa.co.za, the "IFR" -site and you provide your pilot licence no., you might just get lucky. I'm not aware of any licenced pilot who has been refused access. All the products are on there.
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by Calle_Hedberg » Fri Nov 04, 2011 10:58 am

Hi,

One year after the bulk of posts on this thread, which overall moved towards robust (read: heated) but largely professional debate - what's the status?

1. How many users have signed up for the 250/m "VFR" service? How many are using the R10/day option? Does the net income to SAWS from these commercialised products cover the cost of providing the various special weather products like spot graphs, or is it likely that such products will disappear?

2. Do CA now have mobile access to the "IFR" site, updated radar/imagery etc?

3. What specific progress has been made during the various meetings and workshops held during the last year?

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