Lockheed

June 7, 2007

Pilots remain frustrated with FSS system

At least the steep spiral has stopped, but things are far from getting better for Lockheed Martin's handling of the flight service station (FSS) system.

A recent survey among pilots shows that there were no significant changes in briefer professionalism, knowledge of local geography, and familiarity with equipment. Nearly half rated briefer meteorological knowledge as "poor" or "very poor." The June 22 survey was a follow-up to one conducted on May 29.

While 24 percent of respondents in the follow-up survey said service had improved over the past 30 days, 36 percent thought it had become worse. Overall, respondents said the rapid decline in performance has at least leveled off.

"Service has gotten marginally better, but it's still bad," said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. "We'll continue to hold Lockheed's feet to the fire until we see better results."

The follow-up survey also found:

  • 38 percent remain dissatisfied about the process of filing flight plans through briefers
  • 38 percent still say their calls are not being answered within a minute or less (some are waiting more than 10 minutes)
  • 24 percent continue to experience dropped calls

Lockheed Martin has been collecting its own performance metrics, but the rosier numbers don't jibe with real-world pilot experiences. The company is far from reaching the performance goals in the contract. For instance, 85 percent of the calls are supposed to be answered within 20 seconds.

AOPA will be meeting with Lockheed officials next week to continue to press for improvements. To keep up with the FSS situation, see our blog.