Lockheed's Better FSS, Predicts AOPA

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Interactive briefings over the Internet, e-mail and PDA NOTAM alerts and guaranteed service parameters are all part of the plan as Lockheed Martin takes over the Automated Flight Service Station system. The company won the outsourcing competition for the system last Tuesday and, two days later, met with AOPA executives. "After spending about 90 minutes getting an advance look at a 21st century flight service station and asking hard questions, all I can say is 'Wow!'" said AOPA President Phil Boyer. Lockheed Martin will cut the number of FSSs from 58 to 21 but will introduce the Web and wireless technology to improve service. During interactive online briefings, the FSS staffer and pilot will both be looking at the same charts and documents. If something changes while the flight is in the air, the briefer will be able to send an e-mail alert. One knock on the elimination of FSS facilities is that briefers won't always be familiar with the weather and topography of the regions they cover. Boyer said he was assured by Lockheed Martin that briefers will be trained for local conditions and pilots will talk to staff members who are familiar with their flight's route. Lockheed Martin takes over in October but all phone numbers and radio frequencies will remain the same.