Weather camera program protects pilots, saves lives in Alaska

April 19, 2017

10-year partnership significantly reduces plane accidents

ANCHORAGE – GCI and the Federal Aviation Administration are promoting the success of their remote weather camera partnership, a program that has reduced weather-related aviation incidents in Alaska by 85 percent.

For nearly a decade, GCI has partnered with the FAA to provide pilots with real-time weather conditions through the FAA’s weather camera network. Because GCI’s vast, statewide network covers some of the most remote and inaccessible areas Alaska, GCI’s towers are ideal locations for the hardy, all-weather cameras and provide the connectivity needed to deliver real-time information. This real-time access provides critical weather updates to pilots as they prepare for takeoff and helps pilots determine the best flight routes. In many cases, pilots decide to delay or cancel flights based upon the conditions they observe on the cameras.

“These weather cameras have been life-changing for those of us who depend on air travel in Alaska,” said Lee Ryan, vice president and pilot, Ryan Air. “We’re now able to make more accurate judgment calls before we get off the ground. Before we had access to these cameras, the only way to get this weather info was to call the weather service or a village agent. But by the time pilots would get an answer and finally depart, the weather forecast could have quickly changed, potentially impacting the flight.”

Mountainous terrain and erratic weather patterns contribute to Alaska having the highest aviation accident rate in the country. Since its inception, the program has reduced how often pilots must turn a plane around due to weather by 66 percent.

“We are pleased that Alaska pilots have come to rely on the FAA weather cams and that our program is making a real impact on air safety in Alaska,” said Walter Combs, FAA aviation weather camera program manager. “It’s rewarding to know that the work we’ve done makes flying safer for everyone in Alaska.”

GCI provides statewide internet connectivity that makes it possible to easily transmit images from the weather cameras to dedicated virtual private networks. The company also leases space and power to the FAA and delivers 24/7 support for technical issues.

“GCI is proud to partner with the FAA to help Alaska pilots stay safe when they fly,” said William Behnke, senior vice president of strategic initiatives, GCI. “Alaskans depend upon aviation services to stay connected and to support their local economies. GCI’s is pleased to help provide this important service and we commend the FAA for launching this pioneering program that has become a critical tool for Alaska pilots.”

There are currently 960 FAA weather cameras located throughout Alaska, many of which are located on GCI towers and facilities. Images can be viewed on the FAA website at http://avcams.faa.gov and on the program’s new BETA website at http://avcams.faa.gov.

About GCI

GCI is the largest communications provider in Alaska, providing data, wireless, video, voice and managed services to consumer and business customers throughout Alaska and nationwide. Headquartered in Alaska, GCI has delivered services for nearly 40 years to some of the most remote communities and in some of the most challenging conditions in North America. Learn more about GCI at www.gci.com.

Media Contact

Heather Handyside, GCI
(907) 301-3481
hhandyside@gci.com