Lockheed Martin and CSC will provide direct user access terminal services (DUATS) II to pilots under new contracts announced by the FAA.
According to the May 12 announcement, each company has been awarded a one-year, fixed-price contract to supply DUATS II with up to four one-year renewals. DUATS allows pilots to use the Internet to access weather and flight planning information and file and cancel flight plans.
The FAA DUATS program was first implemented in 1989, and since that time services have been provided by CSC and DTC DUAT. Lockheed Martin began offering Internet-based service in 2012. The new contracts mark the first time DTC will not have a role to play in providing DUATS. It is not yet clear what steps DTC users may have to take in order to make the switch to one of the remaining providers, but there will be a 60-day transition period.
The contract award follows a limited competitive bid process that was open only to the three existing government contractors. The FAA has said that it intends to modernize flight services in the coming years, but a bid process for that effort has not yet been established. In the meantime, Lockheed Martin’s contract to supply flight services other than DUATS is scheduled to expire in September 2015, though the FAA has publicly said it intends to renew that contract while it develops criteria for a modernized system.
AOPA has asked the FAA to gather user input to ensure that any changes to future flight services, such as increased automation, meet user needs. AOPA also wants to be sure that robust safety-of-flight information continues to be available at no charge to users, various elements of the flight services network interact seamlessly, and pilots using third-party flight planning services can easily file their plans with the FAA from within those flight planners.