As the FAA moves forward to create a new structure and new priorities for the Flight Service System by 2015, AOPA has already begun reaching out to members to share their ideas about the services an updated FSS should provide—and what technologies could best deliver them.
For more than a year, AOPA has been meeting with the FAA on the Future Flight Service Program (FFSP), which would combine the automated flight service stations, direct user access terminal system (FAA DUAT), and the operational and supportability implementation system (OASIS) programs run by Lockheed Martin and the FAA into “a single contract vehicle.”
The agency expects to contract for the services in 2014, with a fully operational new service up and running in 2015. The FAA has requested information from prospective vendors through a market survey until Dec. 16 to aid its evaluation of implementing the program.
Recognizing the critical value of general aviation pilots’ input to such a game-changing FAA project, AOPA reached out to members with a flight service survey last summer. The result has been the emergence of a clearer picture of members’ use of multiple sources for briefings, as well as the priorities they place on other flight services.
The member survey revealed that 75 percent of respondents receive their briefings from flight service, and 41 percent use FAA DUAT. About 72 percent of pilots expressed interest in receiving an FAA DUAT-like briefing by email at a predetermined time.
“Flight service is a critical service for general aviation pilots, whether that be DTC DUAT or CSC DUATS or talking with FSS directly,” said Heidi Williams, AOPA senior director of airspace and modernization of the survey findings. “Often our members are using a combination of both to ensure they have the necessary safety-of-flight information required for their operations.”
Asked to rate one of six other services as most important to them, pilots’ top pick was search and rescue, closely followed by pilot briefings. The next programs, listed by importance, were inflight services, airport advisories, clearance delivery, and en route flight advisory service (EFAS).
Other member survey findings included the fact that members would like the ability to request only specific items from FSS, are interested in opening and closing flight plans electronically, and would like some type of interactive briefing in which they could view the same information as an FSS specialist.
“We encourage members to let AOPA and their flight service providers know what they feel is needed for the future of flight service,” said Williams. She urged pilots to share their thoughts with AOPA directly or via email.
AOPA will continue working closely to ensure that member interests are represented on this and other issues critical to general aviation.