Pilots flying into, out of, or through the area handled by the Anniston, Ala., Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) need to be aware that the facility will be closed for construction next week.
That means that from 0800 local on Monday, April 7, until sometime on Sunday, April 13 (pilots should check notams for the exact reopening time), Anniston-based briefers will not be answering either the phones or the radio.
"There will be radio coverage gaps during the construction work at the Anniston facility," said AOPA Vice President of Air Traffic, Regulatory, and Certification Policy Melissa K. Bailey. "The FAA has attempted to minimize the impact by arranging to have Flight Watch (122.0) provide other in-flight services in the affected area, in addition to weather advisories. But 44 of Anniston's radio frequencies in its flight plan area will go unmonitored.
"Unfortunately, the FSS infrastructure is so antiquated that it cannot support off-loading these frequencies to other facilities, and general aviation pilots suffer the consequences," said Bailey. AOPA continues to lobby the FAA and Congress to deploy new voice switching technology to ensure that this situation is addressed.
Facility managers have also transferred some of the clearance delivery outlets that are on telephone lines to adjacent flight service stations. Those facilities would contact the appropriate tower, terminal radar control (tracon) facility, or center by telephone for clearance at the remote locations. The FAA acknowledges the process is likely to be more time consuming for pilots departing on an IFR flight plan but expects that it will work adequately for the duration of the construction.
For pilots calling 800/WX-BRIEF for preflight briefings or to close a flight plan, the temporary change should be transparent. Those calls will be routed automatically to the flight service station in Jackson, Tenn.; Nashville, Tenn.; or Louisville, Ky.