Privatization's First Casualty?

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Idaho AFSS Worker Speaks Out...

"Pilots will die" as a result of a possible consolidation of automated flight service stations, says a senior staff member at an AFSS he says is sure to close. Robert Shields, the support specialist at the Boise AFSS, said it's only a matter of time before his station, the smallest in the country, is shut down in a wholesale reorganization and downsizing of the AFSS system. "We are very concerned about what's going to happen to our pilots here in Idaho," said Shields, who's been making the rounds of the local media in Idaho, highlighting his concerns about pilots trying to navigate Idaho's rugged mountains and violent weather without knowledgeable briefers to help them. FAA spokesman William Shumann said the FAA has no plans to close Boise but conceded a future private contractor might. The FAA is currently conducting what is known as an "A-76 study" to determine whether flight services should be contracted out. Shields said pilots from all over are lured to Idaho's spectacular scenery and majestic back-country air strips, and therein lies the problem. "Most of the people who have accidents are in the mountains for the first time," Shields said.