Interactive Briefings

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As OASIS Evolves...

Next time you bust your computer-addicted teenager for spending hours chatting to friends via instant messaging, maybe you should take a lesson, instead. It may not be too long before you do your flight planning in a pretty similar, if more sophisticated, interactive way. "This is something (flight service station) briefers would really like to see," said Jeff Barnes of the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists. Barnes is the union's liaison with the Operation and Supportability Implementation System (OASIS) effort to modernize FSS information systems. And, silly acronym aside, he said there are some real technological initiatives on the horizon. Chief among them is creation of an interactive briefing and notification system that will allow pilots to not only file their flight plans over the Internet but go over them in real time with a briefer. With the up-to-date features of OASIS, that means mixing graphics and text on a screen that both participants in the briefing would see -- leaving much less room for error on either part and potentially more user-specific detail. Although FSS briefers get the gold star, in our opinion, for their clear and succinct verbal conveyance of complicated information, you know what they say a picture is worth ...

...DUATS Integration The Key

Key to the creation of interactive briefings is incorporating DUATS into the OASIS system. Barnes said the FAA is skittish about that because it presumes that a competitive edge and assumed money-saving benefits are derived from two private-sector companies providing the information. Barnes said his union, the FAA and other stakeholders are now wrestling with those issues and he hopes there's a way to add the weather info without otherwise affecting DUATS. Also on the horizon are graphical TFR depictions. "We want to continue to upgrade it (OASIS) and make it a really good product," said Barnes. "The ability to do interactive briefings, it makes it more of a collaborative briefing." Now here's the part we've all been waiting for (no pun intended) -- there's no timeline on these initiatives. But the rest of the program is about to hit its stride. Barnes said the hardware has been installed in St. Louis, the third full-scale system to be put in place. The system should be operational in April after staff training. Plans call for one system a month to be installed over the next year. Barnes said briefers love working with the new system and we hope that conviviality is passed along to pilots.