...Of User Fees And Dire Warnings

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NAATS President Kate Breen told AVweb she believes aircraft groups have been sold a bill of goods, particularly on the issue of user fees. She said that once Lockheed Martin takes over, she believes it will be constantly looking for extra money to cover costs not foreseen in the contract and the FAA won't have the funds. "They're going to need fees to compensate for that," she said. Breen also doubts the hoped-for service improvements can be achieved with such drastic cuts to the operation. But she also has more dire predictions for the system if Lockheed Martin's effort fails. Breen said at least half the current workforce of 2,500 briefers will retire, others will get other FAA jobs and some of the remainder will go to work for Lockheed Martin. That, she said, will seriously deplete the pool of trained, experienced briefers if the FAA needs to rebuild a version of the current system. "The workforce is gone," she said. "You can't just go in the Yellow Pages and find these people."