Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Better late than . . . whatever . . .

There’s been more talk on Capital Hill about what’s happening with what used to be ‘Flight Service.’ Recent hearings at the House aviation subcommittee have resulted in the FAA being asked to submit a progress report “every 90 days to ensure that the FS21 [flight service twenty-first century] service provided by Lockheed Martin is equal to or better than the old FAA-operated system.”

In his letter to Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, Costello said that the report should “include the steps that Lockheed Martin is taking to correct the prominent deficiencies, as a result of flight service station (FSS) consolidation, in providing adequate local knowledge for every pilot’s intended route of flight.”

We couldn’t help but laugh when we read that. OASIS was a Flight Service technology that controllers could actually use to great effect in serving pilots. It took years to get it to a reliable, usable version and was in about a dozen stations before the roll-out was halted. FS21 is a cobbled mish-mash, thrown together in an effort to meet an artificial deadline. To think that such an amalgam of dissimilar parts could be equal to or better than even the outdated, widely used (but time-tested) Model 1 is rather a joke.

While the attention on Capital Hill is welcome, we are inclined to think that Congress will be equally effective in its oversight role as FS21 is in its own sphere. We’ve heard through the grapevine that some in the LM executive ranks are “embarrassed” by the system they’ve foisted on controllers and the flying public. The FAA, on the other hand continues whistling past the graveyard, confident in the wreckage they continue to manage and spin. And Congress? They’ll be embarrassed to the extent that they ever really get a clue.

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