AAI lands $200 million contract to prove weather data to airports


AAI Corp., the Hunt Valley defense contractor, has won a contract valued at more than $200 million to provide automated weather observing and reporting systems to U.S. airports.

The contract from the National Weather Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Navy probably will provide work at the company through 1997, according to Adam Fein, a company spokesman.

The contract is one of the largest AAI has ever received, and is a significant addition to the company's non-military business. Some additional workers will be hired to help maintain the systems at the airports, but Fein did not know how many new jobs might be created. The company now employs about 2,300 people.

The Automated Surface Observation Systems (ASOS) is to provide round-the-clock weather information to pilots through computer-generated voice messages as they prepare to land. The systems are scheduled to be installed at 1,700 sites, including commercial airports, naval air bases and weather observatories, Fein said.

ASOS replaces the current national network of manual surface observations. Weather is blamed for 70 percent of airline delays and is key factor in flight safety.

ASOS is part of a $2 billion weather service modernization plan that is to produce more detailed and timely warnings of sudden, severe weather conditions.

The initial production contract for $18.9 million calls for the first units to be installed this summer in sections of Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas -- state that experience some of the nation's most volatile weather.

AAI Corp. is a subsidiary of United Industrial Corp. The company develops and produces high technology systems for commercial and military use.

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