Thursday, October 16, 2008


Closures and rumors of closures.

Lockheed Martin is going to close some Flight Service Stations. During a telephone conference to facility managers yesterday, it was announced that five stations will close their doors on February 1st, 2009: Denver, Oakland, San Diego, Albuquerque and Macon. We all remember that the promised number of stations in the Lockheed Martin contracted Flight Service was 20. Today it is 18, and on next February 2nd it will be 13.

It was also announced that Flight Service is ‘over-staffed.’ Lockheed Martin will not say how many specialists there are. They will not say how many they want. Why either of these numbers should remain a secret is unexplained. But since a buy-out was announced a couple months ago, over 140 have left the ranks. We have no hard-and fast data, but we suspect that the current number of specialists is below 1000, likely closer to 900, and that is too many. Recall that in 2005, then-AOPA President Phil Boyer championed the LM contract over the internal government bid because one significant difference was that LM offered 1000 controllers, and the government bid offered ‘only’ 940. Snookered yet again, Mr. Boyer.

Because of this ‘overstaffing,’ after the above facilities are closed there will be a RIF should the unnamed staffing number not be reached.

One last item…it seems that specialists may have not been told the whole story today. Since there are a number of entities with an interest in this contract, a number of telephone conferences were held. We have it from a source that previously proved trustworthy that this is not the last of the planned closures. While details may vary, the general upshot is this…on October 1st of 2009, five of the remaining 13 facilities will close. By February of 2010, only 5 facilities will remain open…the three hubs (D.C., Forth Worth, and Prescott), Miami, and Honolulu. We’re hoping for more confirmation, but have little reason to doubt the basics of this.

I love "The Ballad of Flight Service." Very clever. Very appropriate.

IAM will undoubtedly force another union vote (they lost by one vote in March).

If they win, I can't see the next round of closures going forward without a fight LM won't win.

The Feb 1 2009 closure list may be modified to include all remaining non-hub stations except HNL and MIA.

I read online that for the Princeton station alone the FAA pays $65,000 per year to lease the building, so there'll be no resistance from FAA. Big bucks to be saved.

With the decline in GA due to high fuel prices, and the improvements in technology, I predict Flight Service will continue be diminished until the current contract expires. It will not be renewed.

"bye, bye, Mr. Flight Service guy..."
"The Ballad of Flight Service"
"The Ballad of Flight Service"
Next Step for Flight Service: INDIA, and the joys of outsourcing American jobs!

"Thank you for calling Flight Service very much. This is Sanjay, how may I help you yes please?"
Latest rumor at work is now end state, by 2010, FIVE facilities...

Hubs at DCA, FTW,, and PRC with continuing sites at RDU and MIA.

And, scarier still, 700 specialists.

Now, the bid was let with Lockheed saying 20 facilities, 1000 Specialists, and FS21, and the MEO bid lost as it had only 3 facilities, and only 940 people, and the OASIS computer system...

Lockheed is modeling much of their new structure to be like the MEO bid, even FS21 is going out the door, being replaced with a system "like OASIS".

Does Lockheed get paid less money on this contract as the offer the AMERICAN TAXPAYER that much less, or does the TAXPAYER still pay the same amount even if Lockheed cuts staffing to 300?

And they have failed nearly everytime on the 2A evals per quarter.

Amazing they still have this contract I say.
Keeping track….

My hats off to those in worse positions than I, but another “WTF” moment occurred at LAN AFSS.

Tonight at the COB, we at LAN were told (in small groups by management) that LM HR Ted Sturm had called and informed our Facility Manager “Lansing MI has been selected as a site to be substantially impacted by an upcoming RIF” (whatever that means). No target staffing numbers given. Last date of employment for buy-out & RIF’d employees to be Jan 2, 2009. A list of effected employees will be provided to the FAA for consideration for other “age-based” employment offers.

I’ve spoken to a few other ESA facilities and no similar word seems to have been given them at this time.

It appears the buy-out submissions end next Monday 9:30am. With an intentional lack of identified RIF procedures for selection, we’re "all" being encouraged to take the 10-12 weeks enhanced severance, or suffer the 1-2 weeks standard minimal severance. MI unemployment is capped at most, about 1/5th our weekly salary, and valid for a very limited time. We’ve not been offered, or received any outplacement assistance for what will be a “substantially” impacted number. With a termination date of 1/2/09, 6 weeks in pay status heading into the holidays is shrinking rapidly.

Apparently obtaining multiple AOR’s and excelling with the briefing workload is of no consequence.

Never thought I’d say it, “The FAA treated us better than this”.

One of the latest communiqués stated we are over staffed relative to what was contracted for. I say that doesn’t add up:

2005 AOPA: Lockheed-Martin's bid keeps 20 facilities in place with 1,000 employees.

June 2008 FAA current staffing report for LM AOR's to Congress at 1154 employees.
October 2008 AOPA Online LM closing 5 sites and will lay off some 158 employees.

Nov 2008 Continuing/Legacy Sites being selected for substantial additional RIF actions.

2007 James Washington, Hearing Before Congress: The end state configuration for the automated flight service stations in the continental United States including Hawaii and Puerto Rico will ultimately be 18 facilities.

2008 Oct AOPA Online, In a surprise announcement Lockheed Martin said it will be closing five satellite flight service stations. (Leaving 13 total).

It seems to further reduce staffing and stations should be removed from statements regarding “the contract”. Clearly “the contract” and “end state” as bid, aren’t being observed. They are surpassing the cuts the MEO lost the bid due too.

Does the 1/2/09 date for incumbent terminations have any significance?

Is it before the IAM can file and hold wrongdoing in check with “status quo”?

Is it before the Obama team will be able to implement rescinding past executive (anti-inherently governmental) orders as promised?

Is it before the Obama team will be able to implement addressing problematic contracts as promised?

Is it before the Obama team will be able to increase transparency in contracting as promised?

Does identifying incumbents for termination over new hires infringe on the Right of First Refusal?

Does identifying “older” incumbents for termination border on age discrimination?

Does identifying pro-union facilities/individuals for special RIF retaliation equal a ULP?

There is a fragile restraint that exists for some individuals that have information that could be used in a multitude of ways. I would have thought making martyrs was the last thing "this" contract would want.

Merry x-mas…Happy New Year…
I wonder why the proLM yahoos at AOPA have been silent about the closures (they know about them, I and others have written them about it). Could it be that LM FSS isn't what they thought it will be? Or they just drank too much Koolaid and snarfed too much sheetcake at the FAA/LM propoganda meetings.
Well, as of Jan 09, I was informed that the humble, gentle congressman from Minnesota has informed Lockheed Martin that, in the new administration, there will be no more closings or layoffs of flight service personel. He also reminded them that the contract called for 1100 and they are well below that number.

Also, with the expected rescinding of "non-inherently governmental" signed by Bush, but expected to be rescinded by Obama, making atc, and afss, "inherently governmental", that would make the contract renewel of FSS to Lockheed Martin next year, "Illegal", would that not make sense?
The closing sequence makes no sense. Firstly, MIA has to have PIE pick up alot of its calls and PIE does more calls than MIA. Also, the electronices cables for FLIGHT Service for most of the country runs through the PIE building, so, unless they do a total rewiring, they still have to maintain the PIE building. Adding that the MIA building has issues, it must be evacuated when sustained winds approach 35 knots or above, its makes absolutely no sense to keep MIA open as opposed to PIE.

And your end game facilites, MIA and Hawaii are wrong. It was MIA and RDU, Raliegh, as a backup to DC.
Doesnt this all change of IAM gets the contract to represent FSS?

Once elected, Lockmart cant change anything until their is a contract. That is federal law.

Obviously, IAM isnt going to let LM put in their contract to close more facilites, now are they?

Also, because of MR. Oberstar, PRINCETON was not closed.
SEA to be closed in June or Oct 2009. Limited transfers to PRC to be offered.

HNL to be closed no later than Feb 2010. Earllier if IF/FD cert can be accomplished sooner at PRC. Only 4 of 9 current HNL FPLs to be offered PRC slots.
Lansing, Seattle, Kankakee are next on the list. Closure announcememnt is immenent.
Flight service stations seem to be going the way of all good things: away.

Let's hope frequencies don't get so crowded we can't get help!
Its terrible news if there will be closures and jobs are outsourced to India
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