Recognizing a shift in users’ preferences for automated services, the FAA is changing its Flight Service operation to make it more efficient and reduce costs. The agency will continue to maintain the highest level of safety.
The changes come as general aviation pilots are transitioning from traditional Flight Service assistance to more automated and web-based tools to obtain services. Through the use of updated technology Flight Service is taking the opportunity to eliminate redundancies and underutilized services.
“None of these changes will affect core flight service safety functions such as search and rescue, emergency services, Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) entry and dissemination, and pilot weather reports,” said Steven Villanueva, Deputy Director Flight Service, in the ATO’s System Operations Service Unit. “We are phasing in the changes to ease the transition for users,” he added.
On October 1, 2015, the FAA will consolidate Flight Watch services into routine flight services 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.
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.
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.
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. The changes to Flight Watch and RAA are the first in what is anticipated to be a series of right-sizing initiatives surrounding flight services provided to pilots.