FAA Administrator Marion Blakey told pilots via satellite at AOPA Expo's opening general session on Thursday to use the new Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) or risk losing it. It provides vertical guidance during approaches. If GA pilots are slow to equip their aircraft with WAAS-capable GPS units, funds meant for WAAS development might instead be switched to other areas of the strained FAA budget, she warned. In other remarks, Blakey prepared the pilot community for the upcoming contract award in January 2005, allowing private industry or a government group to operate the flight service station system, excluding Alaska. There will continue to be no fees to pilots for briefings once the competition for managing the flight service stations is completed. Blakey also reiterated her opposition to user fees for providing air traffic services to pilots. For more on Blakey's speech and a recorded video presentation, see Virtual Expo.
October 21, 2004