House Blocks FSS Outsourcing Plan
Although the final outcome is yet unclear, the House of Representatives amended its $14.4 billion FAA appropriations bill last week to halt an FAA plan to turn over the operation of its Flight Service Stations to a private contractor. The amendment voids the February contract with Lockheed Martin, whereby 38 of the current 61 FSS facilities would be closed and 20 of the remaining 23 would be operated by the aerospace giant. Sponsors of the amendment argue that outsourcing would result in safety lapses and the loss of jobs for several hundred FAA employees. But the Senate, which begins debating FAA appropriations for fiscal year 2006 next week, may refuse to include the House amendment in its version of the funding bill. If so, the matter will have to be decided in a House/Senate conference committee. The House-approved funding includes $25 million to hire and train nearly 600 new air traffic controllers and $8 million for additional safety inspectors in the aircraft certification and flight standards office.