En Route: Comments Needed On Flight Service Program Changes

En Route: Comments Needed On Flight Service Program Changes

EnrouteEver eager to cut costs and “eliminate redundancies and underutilized services”, the Federal Aviation Administration has announced coming changes in the way pilots interact with Flight Service. Comments are being taken prior to implementation. Quotes from the announcement and T&T editorial remarks follow:

“On October 1, 2015, the FAA will consolidate Flight Watch services into routine … inflight frequencies to eliminate unnecessary duplication of service and provide greater convenience for pilots. These services provide inflight weather information to pilots. After that date, these services will be available on the same frequencies that pilots use to open and close flight plans and to receive updates on NOTAMs or Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs). Dedicated Flight Watch frequencies will be decommissioned.”

This means pilots will have to hunt for an FSS frequency instead of just using the universal 122.00 or the high-altitude alternative. How is this “greater convenience?”

“The FAA is proposing to phase out legacy Remote Airport Advisory Service. Seven of the airports do not meet the Agency’s criteria for receiving advisory service. Flight Service is collaborating with our user groups on possible impacts and will be posting the proposed change in the Federal Register for public comment.”

While rare, the remote uncontrolled airports with FSS advisory service will see a decreased level of safety.

“The FAA is also proposing to implement flight plan filing for civil aircraft exclusively under the format used by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Flight plans contain specific information relating to the proposed flight of an aircraft and controllers use them to provide air traffic services. Today pilots file flight plans in the U.S. under either the domestic or ICAO format. The use of one format will simplify the process and align U.S. flight plans within ICAO standards.”

How does it “simplify the process” to require the more-complex ICAO flight plan? Why does the nation with the most successful general aviation system constantly have to adopt ICAO’s confusing, restrictive ideas?

“General aviation pilots increasingly have turned to automation in recent years to file flight plans and receive pre-flight briefings. New technology such as ADS-B is providing more inflight options to pilots. Flight Service will incorporate the industry’s newest technologies and reduce or eliminate other functions to create efficiencies and value….”

Beware of allowing FAA to off-load TFR and NOTAM dissemination to non-official sources; when charged with violation of FAR 91.103 “Preflight Action”, pilots will be unable to prove the acquisition of information was from the FAA’s current posted data. Historically, the FAA has continually abandoned its services to non-government providers, increasing costs to users and severing its links to the industry it regulates.

To send FAA your comments, questions, and suggestions and share your thoughts and ideas, use this link:

http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ato/service_units/systemops/fs/changes/

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