Lockheed Says AFSS Transition Went Smoothly

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A couple of last-ditch efforts by legislators and the union representing flight service specialists failed to stop the takeover of the FSS system by Lockheed Martin last week and the company says things went smoothly. But, then, all that changed was the nameplate on the door. Dire predictions on the fate of the system, after Lockheed Martin closes two-thirds of the automated flight service stations, continue to be voiced by critics who say there won't be enough people to handle the workload. "I've got a pit in my stomach the size of Texas that this is going to be the largest fiasco any federal agency has ever seen," said Kate Breen, president of the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists (NAATS). NAATS had tried to get an injunction to stop the changeover, which is the largest example of outsourcing ever undertaken by a government agency. The injunction was turned down. A few days before the changeover, a group of 57 (mostly Democrat) representatives urged FAA Administrator Marion Blakey to delay the transition until after the Senate votes on a bill that would outlaw the outsourcing. The House has already passed the bill. Despite the opposition, Lockheed Martin sees a bright future ahead as the supplier of weather and NOTAM information. "We welcome the opportunity to serve the FAA and the nation's aviation public in this capacity for many years," said Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Linda Gooden.