SAWS becoming Unafordable

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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by FAPE » Fri Nov 04, 2011 11:20 am

Just a note...

You can walk into the PE office and get a personal briefing for free...crazy. You can have the sat images and radar analised and explained - free. The only cost is 54 steps on the stair case.

I am opposed to any form of SAT images/RADAR on the internet up to the time CAA requires that these topics become a compulsary part of the PPL/CPL/ATPL syllabus. You are not educated in its use and should not be invited to access it. I would also like to see a law passed that all pilots SHALL will have to prove that they aquired a standardised set of MET data. This set of data must include the AIRMET.

While I don't agree with everything and every way in which GA has to pay for MET services, the reality is that ICAO supports commercialized MET. In fact it encourages it. In the UK the CAA legislation leaves (like here) the legal loophole that you can access any (unverified) data for your flight. That can be better addressed here in SA.

As to where GA stands, I think AOPA and co will have more updated info than what I possess. Bottom line, paying is the world wide norm. You would probably find that the majority of forecasters don't really care whether the client pays or not. For us it is about being able to use the best tecnology, whether state sponsored or not. According to ICAO MET services are better run by commercial entities than government institutions. I think there is still plenty of place for govt run MET, but that will never happen here.
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by Chris » Fri Nov 04, 2011 11:55 am

Government Notices

Consumer Protection Act (68/2008): Notice to revoke the application of the Consumer Protection Act to municipalities

Origin: Department of Trade and Industry
Published in: GG 34724, 31 Oct 2011, Notice 898, page 3
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by wynand » Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:41 pm

FAPE wrote:You can walk into the PE office and get a personal briefing for free...crazy. You can have the sat images and radar analised and explained - free. The only cost is 54 steps on the stair case.
True. Whenever I have the rare opportunity of being at a major airport, I make a point of visiting the met office. It has always been an enlightning experience (if somewhat of a surprise to the forecasters).
I am opposed to any form of SAT images/RADAR on the internet up to the time CAA requires that these topics become a compulsary part of the PPL/CPL/ATPL syllabus. You are not educated in its use and should not be invited to access it.
Thats a bit harsh. How am I supposed to access images, if not on the web? I am also not going to redo my PPL or FBPL. Seeing the image for myself is a lot more useful than having a forecaster try and describe it to me while I'm flying. Anyway, radar images are not rocket science. Satellite images are, indeed, more difficult to interpret properly, but still very useful to even the untrained eye. I agree that the MET training syllabus MUSt be revised to incorporate interpretation of modern MET products, but don't withold products that can save lives.
While I don't agree with everything and every way in which GA has to pay for MET services, the reality is that ICAO supports commercialized MET. In fact it encourages it. In the UK the CAA legislation leaves (like here) the legal loophole that you can access any (unverified) data for your flight. That can be better addressed here in SA.
Not quite: ICAO and WMO encourage co-operation between national weather agencies (like SAWS) and commercial met services. The emphasis is on co-operation. Nowhere does it encourage commercial met services as alternatives.
Bottom line, paying is the world wide norm.

Not at all!
All NOAA aviation met products are free and unrestricted for the USA, Canada, Pacific Islands, and Alaska, and they kindly put out limited but very useful producst for the rest of the world. UK aviation weather is free, but restricted to British Nationals. European national met agencies put out free and unrestricted aviation met products. Australia puts out most of it aviation met products on a free an unrestricted basis, but there is talk of charging $5 /month for premium content. Eumetsat images are free (although you can buy specialised producst.

If one reads international resolutions and conventions on weather services, satellite data and, indeed, civil aviation obligations, the emphasis is on Governments and their National Met Services being urged to "exchange and provide meteorological data on a free and unrestricted basis".
The Convention On International Civil Aviation states: "All flights require advance and accurate meteorological information so as to chart a course that will permit them to make use of the most favourable winds..."
and
"The object of Meteorological Services is to contribute to the safety, efficiency and regularity of Air Navigation."

ICAO, WMO and the International Civil Aviation documents are replete with the terms "free and unrestricted".


OK, so the "user pays" principle comes into play. we can argue this way or that about its application to Aviation Met services, but for a national MET Agency to charge General and Recreational/Sport Aviation TEN TIMES the rate that any commercial site charges is nothing short of exorbitant.
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by FAPE » Fri Nov 04, 2011 1:22 pm

wynand wrote:
OK, so the "user pays" principle comes into play. we can argue this way or that about its application to Aviation Met services, but for a national MET Agency to charge General and Recreational/Sport Aviation TEN TIMES the rate that any commercial site charges is nothing short of exorbitant.
The UK CAA is very clear on the fact that fees need to be reasonable. There is a lot of conflicting info out there. I have been told that a call to a forecaster in the UK costs 17UK pounds. I have also been told that a METAR and TAF in central Africa (poor quality and word for word the same as 3 months ago) costs $US70.

I would say this: the practise of pilots forecasting their own weather is deadly. Let's pray that I am wrong.

Finally I have to admit that I am a bit gatvol of this topic after 5-6 years of AVCOM membership. More specifically, many of those that complane will not bother to walk to a MET office and get the gen for free. There are CFI's out there who encourage their students to get MET from the weather office. They themselves don't bother and will not think twice to say so to me in person, since they don't believe in SAWS. It is very easy to engage in debate on a forum, but when you invite people to email you so you can forward their issues to SAWS management 4 emails emerge from the 10,000 membership of AVCOM. I cannot help but question the commitment of people to fight SAWS, rather than merely complain. Luckily AOPA, Aeroclub, etc meet with SAWS and fight for the rights of pilots. I support their views. The issue has never been paying, but rather how much and the quality of data.

Wynand on the quote form WMO/ICAO regarding wind data, I would like to state that blockwinds and vector winds has terrible resolution. Spotgraphs should replace these and become the official data used by pilots wanting documentation.

AIRMETS - who uses them/ They are the official severe weather warnings for pilots. They are not mentioned in the course literature!!!
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by 2000andmore » Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:30 pm

I have just been onto the SAWS website, to look at tomorrows weather on the spot graphs, and guess what? I have no access now. I have a corporate account with these fools, and now I cannot see what I need. I now have to up-grade once more. Then I looked at the radar, and guess what? Limited to only access the 75 Km radius radar.

CAA are striving to push for safer skies, while these clowns keep information from us.

I pay my taxes, and expect some return!

You are a bunch of theives!
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by wynand » Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:40 pm

My login also got revoked on the same day that the debit order ran against my bank account.
I wrote them a comment and it was fixed.

Even so, one of the reasons I joined the ranks of the few who actually pay for SAWS weather is that I need access 24/7. Reliably, and instantly. My income depends on it. Being kicked off the site due to some admin glitch makes me rather resentful.

Deon: I am also gatvol. Many of my reasons are the same as yours, but users of the SAWS web products are being very badly treated. The pay site is a frustration, and it speaks of a webmaster that does not know much about weather and aviation. Since when are balloon soundings, satellite pics and QNH charts "forecasts"?? :oops: The wind barb maps have no time stamps, the satellite pics have not updated since September and for two weeks we couldn't access "tomorrows" spot graphs. After more than two years of development, this is what we get? I feel like I want my money back. What, for Pete's sake, is the difference between VFR and IFR weather products?

Don't blame GA pilots for not using SAWS products. We are being accused of being imposters if we access the aviation.weathersa site while the pay site is terribly overpriced and somewhat dysfunctional.

SAWS holds two trump cards:
The Aerosport products, including the spot graphs
and
The weather radar (when in works: Polokwane and Skukuza are about as much out of commission as in commission)

While the public relations rift between SAWS and GA pilots is deepening, other services are developing better products all the time.
One day, satellite based weather radar might make the SAWS weather radar stations obsolete and someone will come up with a replacement for aerosport at a reasonable price.

With no trump cards left, the "user pays" principle will work against SAWS. In fact, it is already working against SAWS.

And, on the other hand, GA pilots need to shape up and use proper aviation weather products. Using TV weather and accuweather is not good enough. :evil:
Insist on nothing less than spot graphs, weather radar, METARS, forecast cloud animations, winds aloft and thunderstorm probability.
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by 2000andmore » Fri Nov 18, 2011 7:38 pm

Wynand, I fully agree with your sentiments.
After a few phone calls and a rather rude email to FutureForsight ala WIS, it transpires that my PRO subscription was downgraded to ENTHUSIAST due to a glitch or whatever....bottom line is I now have the full access back again. Their website is a sloppy mess I agree. The low class phraseology used, bad spelling and blatently commercial feel of the website is off-putting. They must have used the lowest bidder to do the website. BEE careful when using cheap suppliers :-)
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by tanglefoot » Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:28 pm

2000andmore wrote:......They must have used the lowest bidder to do the website. BEE careful when using cheap suppliers :-)
In my internet research there was absolutely no indication that there were other bidders. There is no indication currently that FF/WIS is self sustaining (not receiving tax payer support) and there is no indication that ANY funds have flowed to SAWS. Would be nice to get the story behind the fuss.

Professor Wynand, you certainly have a way with words :wink: Deon, you are probably the best intentioned guy I know of but neither you nor your superiors at SAWS have any idea at all of how to make a success of this commercial venture. Spending tax payers money at a faster and faster rate (on commercial leeches) as you have to date is not going to work, ever.
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by ClearBlu » Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:54 pm

Reading through some of these posts makes me realize just how lucky I am being able to fly here in the US. I can't imagine having to jump through hoops to get a decent weather briefing. I just hope the government and it's handlers never get their way here and implement user fees.
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by kalahariB » Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:39 pm

Am hoping Mike WIS is still monitoring this thread. If so, please explain.

2011-11-25 NETCASH 33619551 WEATHER INT 0.00 -25.00
2011-11-24 NETCASH 33593006 WEATHER INT 0.00 -25.00
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by tanglefoot » Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:46 pm

kalahariB wrote:Am hoping Mike WIS is still monitoring this thread. If so, please explain.

2011-11-25 NETCASH 33619551 WEATHER INT 0.00 -25.00
2011-11-24 NETCASH 33593006 WEATHER INT 0.00 -25.00
I think you mean Chris_WIS or was it Chris_WIS2 :? :?
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by wynand » Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:09 pm

kalahariB wrote:Am hoping Mike WIS is still monitoring this thread. If so, please explain.

2011-11-25 NETCASH 33619551 WEATHER INT 0.00 -25.00
2011-11-24 NETCASH 33593006 WEATHER INT 0.00 -25.00
What do you subscribe to for R25.00 ?
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by kalahariB » Sat Dec 03, 2011 3:57 pm

Hi Wynand

I subscribed about 2 years back when I had seen how the old Weather SA site worked on a clever phone. I could then get the Metar's as well as the spot-graphs on the phone. As a balloon pilot you will understand the confidence that a real time Metar-reading from a nearby station gives you, and you immediately can gain an understanding of what might be headed your way. The spotgraph would give me the trends of the upper winds and are probably the best flight planning and safety aid that I use. (Besides the pibal.)

I had previously registered and gained access to the aviation site where this info was. So my subscription was for the mobile SAWS site which I thought would be worthwhile, the fancy animations, really bad colour schemes and inability to zoom into the forcasts have made the mobile site a real pain. Furthermore, they then blocked access from the clever phone to the aviation site.

So am currently paying signed up to pay R25 per month for acess (this month I have been charged twice) , cellphone access to the aviation site is blocked and I now have to fire up the laptop to get onto the aviation site just to get the Metar's and check the spotgraph.

Have remained with SAWS out of some sort of belief that there information would be the most correct. In my experience of weather watching and flight planning I am finding that Windfinder is the most reliable for both wind speed, wind direction and temperature. Weather Spark allows you to look into the records in about 2 clicks and has a stunning amount of info in a really user friendly format.

Am about ready to cancel my subscription, however this double charge has really got up my nose and am thinking Consumer Protection. Perhaps a class action if they have ripped off all their subscribers?

All I was doing was trying to fly safely with the best information available.

And just a thanks Wynand, for taking up the challenge and keeping on it.
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by wynand » Sun Dec 04, 2011 10:46 am

Andrew

I was asking about the amount: You say R25. Is it not R250?

Funny: Cellphone or smartphone access to weathersa shouldn't be blocked.

If you're using some kind of smartphone, you can select the tiny little link on the top right of the screen that says "Extras"
Then select "Force this page into web view", then you can resize and you get the navigation bars that you see when using your laptop.
You can bookmark METARS, TAFS, Lightning strikes and satelite images (not working for 2 months now) without subscribing. But, of course, we want to see the aerosport products.

Surely, as a professional pilot you can access aviation.weathersa?

I still find the spot graphs to be the most reliable forecast system. By far.
I use yr.no as a backup for surface conditions and XCskies (about R280/year) for temps and winds aloft.

For longer term forecasts I use vfrplanner (also minimal subscription for premium access).

So, to summarise, my subs are:

weathersa.co.za R3 000 p/a
vfrplanner R 400 p/a (excellent products also available free)
XcSkies R 280 p/a (very detailed but not very accurate. Aerosport is better)
aviation.weathesa.co.za "paid for by tariff paying commercial operators" -My operation is zero rated because my biggesr ballooon is just a tad under 2 000kg MAUW
yr.no free (and very good for surface conditions only, although it does forecast high/middle/low cloud cover)
wunderground.com/wundermap free (Observations only, no local forecasts)
intercity charters free (good for observations and includes useful weather charts derived from EUMETSAT. SAWS content has been blocked)

All in all, if you shop around, the following products are free:
Eumetsat satellite images (offered by several websites)
METARS, TAFS (various sites, and free content on weathersa)
airport webcams (free on weathrsa)
various private webcams and automatic weather stations (like iWeathar)
Lightning strikes (weathersa, free content)
Aviation forecasts (vfrplanner: short term free, premium content at a good price)
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Re: SAWS becoming Unafordable

Unread post by wynand » Sun Dec 04, 2011 10:55 am

Oh, and another thing:

You can activate Eumetsat imagery as a Google Earth overlay (Free, of course):
Gooogle Earth Eumetsat.JPG
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