FSS Privatization, NAATS Vs. AOPA?

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AOPA wants a say in designing the service criteria for whatever results from a contracting-out study of U.S. flight service stations -- and isn't yet taking a stand against privatization. AOPA spokesman Warren Morningstar said the group wants direct input in drafting the Performance Work Statement that will form part of an A76 study of FSS operations. A76 studies investigate whether the government will get more bang for the buck by allowing the private sector to bid on providing certain services. The union representing the government workers who would be displaced by contracting out is already hard at work lobbying to stop the study. But in a recent meeting between the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists (NAATS) and AOPA, the pilots' group refused to join the NAATS lobbying effort. "We're not going to prejudge the results of the A76 study," said Morningstar. In a policy statement released last month, AOPA said the FSS system needs modernization and streamlining. It also said that the weather briefings and other services provided to pilots by FSS must remain free of charge, regardless of who delivers them. "Our bottom-line position remains the same," said Morningstar. NAATS President Wally Pike said he believes AOPA is better informed on the issue since the meeting and his group will keep up its lobbying effort.