FSS Worker Bids On System Contract

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Some people carry signs, others might launch lawsuits, but Jay Wade prefers a more direct approach to possibly saving his job. The 51-year-old Tennessee flight service specialist is launching a bid to take over the whole FSS system through the A-76 competitive outsourcing process now underway. To accomplish his goal, he'll merely have to convince the FAA that his company, Wade &Associates LLC, is more qualified to run the $500-million-a-year system than some of the biggest names in aviation technology and services, including Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Computer Sciences Corp., not to mention the existing FSS organization, which recently teamed up with Harris Corp. for a bid. Wade told Government Executive Magazine he has unique qualifications for the job. "This contract manager has personally done over 150,000 pilot weather briefings without a single weather-related accident, so I think I'm profoundly qualified," he said. Wade's bid was almost stopped before it started when the FAA originally required proof of $110 million in cash reserves from prospective bidders. With a world headquarters in his living room in Franklin, Tenn., no clients and no revenue, Wade had no hope of meeting the qualification. The FAA suddenly dropped the requirement and now Wade is getting ready for the next step.

On May 3, the FAA will let the bidders know what's expected of them. They, in turn, must have technical proposals ready by August and financial details prepared by September. According to the FAA, a decision will be made on whether to proceed with the contracting out sometime between December and March of 2005. Wade dismisses charges he's just a troublemaker for the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists, which represents most FSS personnel. He says he's not in the union and doesn't think the in-house bid will protect jobs. "I'm just trying to bid on my job and help other people who aren't in the union," he said.