FAA To Cut Airport Advisories, WACs


The FAA plans to eliminate two of the less frequently used resources provided to pilots in the coming months – Airport Advisories and World Aeronautical Charts. In two separate moves, the agency cited declining usage of both due to the digital information available to pilots. There’s a public comment period on Airport Advisories, but the FAA issued a notice in the Federal Register(PDF) a week ago it will discontinue WACs without a comment period. Airport Advisory services, which provide winds, altimeter settings and other local information, are available to pilots via radio at 19 sites around the country. The elimination of the service would be rolled into the FAA’s upcoming contract renewal with Lockheed Martin, which took over Flight Service operations in 2005. Due to the consolidation of facilities over the years under Lockheed Martin, Airport Advisories are known as Remote Airport Advisories because the specialists are not located on the airport. The FAA said its review of the service found that most of the 19 sites receive an average of less than one pilot call per day, while one, Millville Municipal in New Jersey, sees an average of 14 requests per day. The comment period is open until July 30.

WAC sales have dropped 73 percent since 2007, and most pilots prefer the more common Sectional Aeronautical Charts or their digital counterparts anyway, the FAA said. This has rendered the WAC “largely obsolete” and a major customer, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, has stopped purchasing them for the military in favor of digital products, the agency said. Once the current WACs expire, there will be no replacements. The FAA said two public forums took place last year to discuss the charts, but the subsequent decision and lack of a comment period sparked feedback from AOPA, which argued on its website that pilots use thousands of WACs each year for flight planning and long-distance navigation. “AOPA is very concerned that pilots’ voices must be heard regarding any proposed charting changes that would affect safety and we are opposing this decision,” said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of government affairs. “We are very frustrated and surprised that the decision to discontinue these charts has circumvented the normal channels for comment and has not been fully vetted with stakeholders.”