FAA Misleading Pilots

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National Association of Air Traffic Specialists at odds with Adminisrtrator Blakey's speech to the AOPA membership

In yet another case of the FAA confusing the issue of privatization of air traffic services, Administrator Blakey’s speech addressing the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), indicated that every pilot contact with an air traffic control specialist cost the government $25.00 and flight service as a whole cost the FAA $500 million dollars annually.

The truth of the matter is flight service cost an average of $12.00 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. A simple consolidation of facilities and attrition of personnel would alleviate most of the issues the administrator spoke of, in her own words, “Almost 40 percent of Flight Service employees are eligible to retire.” and “The Inspector General's office has been saying since 2001 that consolidation of these automated flight service stations is the right thing to do. He projected that we could save $500 million over seven years.”

The need for upgrading the flight service option has already been addressed and partially implemented by the FAA. In yet another twist of wisdom, the FAA a few short years ago advertised and lobbied for funds to upgrade flight service with OASIS systems. These systems have been implemented and operational at several facilities with outstanding response by the air traffic specialists and pilots.

The FAA that once saw a bright future for flight service with the implementation of this new system have since suspended funding and distribution and now claim flight service is in dire need of privatization to upgrade outdated equipment. What happened to those lost promises of a bright future? Where will we eventually find the current promises from Administrator Blakey and the FAA?

Although Administrator Blakey stated, “The FAA doesn't support a fee-based system.” The FAA can not rule out the possibility that a private company can and will eventually evolve into just that, a fee based service. This system has had a devastating affect on general aviation pilots in Canada and Australia. Privatization of any air traffic services in the United States would mean a slow painful elimination of general aviation.

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Wally Pike
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