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Fri, Jul 13, 2007

AOPA Works To Keep Satellite Weather Online Through XM-Sirius Merger

Fear Monopoly May Compromise Availability

While consumer and advocacy groups have been making their own noise about the future of satellite radio, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is concerned about what a monopoly might mean for general aviation.

The association let the Federal Communications Commission know how it felt during a comment period on the proposed XM-Sirius merger.

In its written comments, AOPA said that the new company should still provide weather service to pilots, maintain reasonable prices, and allow customers to continue using existing satellite radio receivers.

"It is important to recognize that weather information is only beneficial if it is affordable to pilots," wrote AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Based on the XM filing, which indicates that audio programming content will continue at or below current prices, AOPA would expect the same assurances for the graphical data used in aviation. Lower subscription pricing would serve to improve aviation safety."

Satellite weather allows pilots to have nationwide access to real-time graphical information on the airport or in the air. Safety information about severe thunderstorms, wind speed and direction, temperature, current and forecast conditions for airports, and other climatic indicators is available, in addition to temporary flight restrictions.

XM satellite weather -- marketed as XM-WX -- is an increasingly popular option on several general aviation aircraft, with services also available for marine and ground vehicles. Sirius currently offers a similar service, geared to the boating community.

FMI: www.aopa.org, www.xmradio.com, www.sirius.com

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