...But "Lowest Bidder" Prospect Worries Staff

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The union representing the FSS staff, the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists (NAATS), is opposed to the bidding process. "Flight Service Controller duties will be sold to the lowest bidder with no system announced as of yet to monitor safety and security," says the NAATS Web site. NAATS has also disputed the FAA's contention that each contact with a pilot costs $25. "Flight service cost an average of $12 per contact until you factor in the cost of all the technical and administrative support costs. These support personnel are not included in any privatization or job elimination study," says NAATS. AOPA has taken the position that aviation weather services are critical to public safety and should be provided by the government without fees. "However, AOPA recognizes that the current FSS system is in serious jeopardy and that there may be better ways of doing business," according to the group's position paper. "AOPA would actively oppose any measures that would remove responsibility for flight services from the federal government."