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Fri, Oct 12, 2007

Was FSS At Fault In Camp David TFR Incursions?

Congressman Says Briefers Didn't Give Pilots NOTAM Information

ANN REALTIME REPORTING 10.12.07 1650 EDT: Well... this changes things. According to a report in the Federal Times, pilots who busted a temporary flight restriction last weekend over Camp David weren't alerted to the restrictions by flight service briefers... because the facility lost the Notice to Airmen.

That revelation came to light in a statement by Illinois congressman Jerry Costello, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on aviation, during a hearing into FAA oversight of privatized operations.

As ANN reported, Wednesday's congressional hearing took a close look at Lockheed Martin's performance in the two years since it took over Flight Service Station duties from the FAA, as well as that agency's ability to regulate other private companies tasked with providing vital air safety functions.

During that hearing, AOPA president Phil Boyer noted just 64 percent of pilots recently surveyed were satisfied with the current level of service provided by Lockheed for flight service operations -- which, though an improvement from figures cited earlier this year, is still "a failing grade."

Complaints most often cited by pilots using FSS today include dropped calls, and a lack of knowledge of local conditions on the part of Lockheed briefers.

Costello believes there is a recent, high-profile example of the latter. As ANN reported Monday, a dozen pilots flying antique and vintage planes to the Hagerstown Fly-In in Maryland inadvertently flew into restricted airspace over Camp David. At least four pilots were intercepted by F-16s.

At the time, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told reporters the pilots who entered restricted airspace could have avoided the incidents, had they had radios onboard, and checked the NOTAMS.

"Pilots are supposed to check the notices to airmen that we put out that are in effect for the area," she said.

Apparently, they did. According to the Federal Times, Costello says pilots who contacted flight service before their flights were not told of the Camp David TFR... as briefers apparently lost the flight notice.

Aero-News contacted Lockheed several times Friday for comment on this revelation, but those calls were not returned by press time.

FMI: www.afss.com, www.tfr.faa.gov

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