The Senate Appropriations Committee is supporting modernization of flight service station equipment. In its appropriations bill for fiscal year 2003, the committee included funding for 12 additional FSS operational and supportability implementation systems (OASIS). The new system will allow briefers to more easily find the specific information a pilot needs. It replaces an antiquated 1970s-era mainframe computer system.
"AOPA supports the implementation of OASIS and is encouraged that the committee recognizes the importance of funding this modernization program," said Andrew V. Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of government and technical affairs.
OASIS uses "off the shelf" computer equipment and a modern, graphical user interface. It allows FSS to customize its briefing products and even overlay a pilot's planned route of flight on maps and weather charts. OASIS is currently in use at the Seattle, Washington, and Anderson, South Carolina, AFSSs (automated flight service stations).
AOPA senior staff participated in a live demonstration of the system this week. Harris Corporation (the contractor developing OASIS for the FAA) invited AOPA, the FAA, and FSS union representatives to view the system operating with a live data stream from the Seattle FSS.
"The demonstration illustrated the fact that OASIS is a significant step forward from the current FSS computer system. General aviation pilots will benefit from the route planning tool and the briefer's ability to access information more quickly," said Melissa Bailey, AOPA vice president of air traffic, regulatory, and certification policy. "Some small strides are even being made in the area of notams. There is more work to be done, but at least OASIS will allow for some basic sorting of notams." (Pilots and briefers currently have to manually sift through hundreds of unrelated "notices to airmen" to find information applicable to a specific route of flight.)