The Leesburg (Virginia) Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) has reopened its doors for walk-in pilot briefings, thanks to quick action by Leesburg Airport Support Network volunteer Ed Levine and AOPA.
The FSS was closed to walk-in briefings this week because of fears the briefers were in danger due to the orange-level security alert. Leesburg was the only FSS that locked its doors to the public. ASN volunteer Levine notified AOPA, and President Phil Boyer immediately pushed for action.
"This is one of the few AFSSs in the country sited on an airport, making face-to-face briefings possible," said Boyer. "Considering that this AFSS serves the Washington area, which with the ADIZ is an area where pilots need the most help from flight service, and considering that pilots calling the Leesburg AFSS are confronted with an average wait time of nine minutes when they can get past the busy signals, cutting off walk-in briefings is just unacceptable."
AOPA bumped its complaint all the way to the highest levels in FAA headquarters, arguing that there was no evidence of any credible threat of terrorist activity directed toward Leesburg or any other AFSS that would preclude the ability to safely provide face-to-face pilot briefings.
AOPA reminded the FAA of the pledge made to AOPA from both the FAA and TSA that the government would use concrete, threat-based intelligence to issue airspace and other transportation restrictions.
The FAA responded by immediately reopening the Leesburg AFSS.
"AOPA appreciates the hard work of Airport Support Network volunteers like Ed Levine and also thanks members who call or e-mail 'absurd' situations like this during these trying times, said Boyer. "The association checks out the details of each and acts within its ability and strength, as in this case, to remedy the situation."