By AOPA ePublishing staff
Change is never easy. And that is why AOPA is working closely with the FAA and FSS contractor Lockheed Martin to make sure there isn’t a repeat of last summer’s FSS glitches.
A part of this effort is Lockheed’s summer plan that centers around increased staffing, improvements to the call handling system, and advance preparation for big events, including Memorial and Labor Day weekends, EAA AirVenture, and the AOPA Fly-In and Open House.
“We are continuing our watchdog role to make sure pilots get the services they need,” said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory policy. “As part of that role, AOPA will continue to closely monitor the FSS system and pilot comments to ensure that Lockheed Martin is achieving required service levels.”
As part of its preparations, Lockheed has created a national traffic manager position, staffed 24/7 to handle spikes in call volume. In addition, FSS has added 217 new staff since October 2007, will bring back 38 retirees to provide part-time help during the busy summer flying months, and is adding a total of nine new workstations at high-volume locations in Raleigh, N.C., and Nashville, Tenn. The system also has a surge capacity of up to 100 flight service specialists who can be brought in on short notice to handle as many as 4,000 extra calls each day, Lockheed says.
Recent changes in the call routing system, along with additional local knowledge training, have yielded improvements in service, with pilots reaching a local briefer 85 percent of the time. Hold times also are down to less than 10 seconds on average. But peak summer traffic is still ahead, and Miami is still struggling with longer wait times. Lockheed has promised to increase staffing and provide additional training to bring Miami wait times into compliance with contract requirements.
If you experience any problems using the flight service system, call 888/358-7782 (888/FLT-SRVC). Your recorded comments are listened to by the FAA and Lockheed Martin and reported to AOPA. Your comments are invaluable in ensuring that the service continues to improve.
To learn more about the changes to FSS and how to get the most from the new flight service system, take the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Pilot’s Guide to Flight Service online minicourse.
April 17, 2008