The many problems pilots have had with the new Lockheed Martin Flight Service Stations have led Congress to ask for progress reports. In a letter to Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), chairman of the House aviation subcommittee, has asked the Department of Transportation to submit a progress report every 90 days to ensure that FS21 — acronym for Flight Service 21st Century — is “equal to or better than” the FAA-operated system it is replacing.
The reports should “include the steps that Lockheed Martin is taking to correct the prominent deficiencies, as a result of FSS consolidation, in providing adequate local knowledge for every pilot’s intended route of flight,” according to Costello’s letter.
Pilots across the country have complained about the new FSS service (see our previous story: Frustrations abound with FSS: Lockheed Martin working to fix problems, but pilots say transition glitches compromise safety, June 8 edition, or online at GeneralAviationNews.com). The latest complaints are from pilots who inadvertently flew into a presidential TFR because Lockheed Martin flight service briefers failed to tell them about it. F-16s were scrambled to escort four airplanes out of the TFR area. Those pilots were later “interviewed” by FAA and Secret Service personnel, according to an FAA spokesman.
Besides the 90-day reports, Lockheed Martin also faces scrutiny by the FAA — and pilots, as well — who can complain at AFSS.com. If the private contractor does not meet certain performance metrics, it could face financial penalties.