AOPA Gets Seat At FSS Privatization Study

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While the air traffic controllers are hoping to pre-empt a privatization bid, the process to examine contracting out of flight service station functions grinds on. AOPA announced last week that it will be able to provide input on the study, which will look at everything flight service station personnel do. AOPA is particularly interested in helping shape the "performance work statement," which will craft a blueprint for future changes. FSS personnel are trying to block the study. (more) "AOPA will be there protecting pilots' interests in this government study," said AOPA VP Andy Cebula. Wally Pike, president of the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists (NAATS), has been pounding on doors in Washington trying to convince legislators that his members' work is every bit as vital to air transportation as that of the higher-profile controllers. AOPA has given qualified support to NAATS, saying it believes FSS functions should remain government responsibility and continue to be available free of charge to pilots. But AOPA has also said the system is in desperate need of upgrading and modernization and that may open the door for private contractors, under FAA supervision, doing some of the work. Cebula noted that private companies have been providing DUATs weather services since the 1980s.