The FAA will discontinue the Direct User Access Terminal Service (DUATS II) Program on May 16, but pilots who get their weather briefings from Flight Service by phone or through the flight service website will not be affected by the expiration of the DUATS II contract.
In response to pilot inquiries, AOPA is advising pilots that they will still have access to internet-based services including weather and aeronautical information, flight plan filing, and automated services at no charge at the flight service website. AOPA urges pilots to register for the website and use its services.
Between now and May 16, the FAA is working with the two current DUATS II providers, Leidos and CSRA Inc., “conducting pilot outreach, establishing commercial interfaces, and providing user migration assistance,” it said.
Leidos and CSRA Inc., have posted banners on their websites alerting pilots to the change, and detailing options available for receiving online weather briefings.
Another option available to pilots is the AOPA Flight Planner, which offers a free preflight briefing service through Leidos.
FSS website, phone briefings remain available
Pilots should note that the flight service website, operated by Leidos, will function as usual after the end of DUATS II, said Rune Duke, AOPA senior director of government affairs for airspace, air traffic, and security.
The FAA contract with Leidos extends to the year 2020, during which time the FAA is preparing for its Future Flights Services program—a contract it expects to award in the next year.
AOPA has been an active participant with the FAA in crafting the Future Flight Service Program's (FFSP) services and requirements to address the needs of GA.
“We think it is important, and the FAA agreed, that having the customer’s voice in the room is critical to this process resulting in a successful Future Flights Services program,” Duke said.
“We understand the importance to pilots of being able to call flight service and ask questions and receive flight critical information. This service is critical to safety and we believe it is important the FAA maintain this service for the foreseeable future,” he added.
The critical nature of “unencumbered access to speak to a flight service specialist” for pilots was a point of emphasis in an April 10 letter from AOPA Vice President of Government Affairs Melissa Rudinger to the FAA’s the Future Flight Services Program’s managers.
“Many barriers prevent the realization of a fully automated preflight and inflight service, but we propose that working together we can promote the utilization of online self-assisted services and see the migration of many more General Aviation pilots to automated services,” she wrote.