June 13, 2014
By Elizabeth A Tennyson
AOPA is asking the FAA to use an open, competitive process to determine the future of flight services. The first of two flight service contracts expires in September, and the current system should be maintained until the FAA has completed a competitive bid process, AOPA said in a letter to the FAA administrator.
The FAA is launching a strategic initiative to create a more efficient system for delivering flight services outside of Alaska. Existing contracts to provide flight services expire in September 2014 for the FAA DUAT System and December 2015 for Lockheed Martin. But AOPA is asking the FAA to maintain the system as it is until the agency can work with the user community to evaluate their needs and conduct a competitive bid process to modernize the flight service system.
“We believe it is imperative that the FAA seek user input before changing the flight services programs and maintain its existing contracts until a competitive bid of the program is completed,” AOPA President Mark Baker wrote in the June 12 letter.
The letter also notes that AOPA has concerns about how flight services will be delivered in the future. The association is asking the FAA to gather user input to ensure that any changes to future flight services, such as increased automation, meet user needs. AOPA also wants to be sure that robust safety-of-flight information continues to be available at no charge to users, various elements of the flight services network interact seamlessly, and pilots using third-party flight planning services can easily file their plans with the FAA from within those flight planners.
Director of Government Affairs and Executive Communications Elizabeth Tennyson joined AOPA in 1998, the same year she earned her private pilot certificate. She also holds an instrument rating and enjoys jumping out of planes almost as much as flying them.
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