FAA wants to overhaul the way it provides preflight briefings and related services to general aviation users. The agency has published a request for proposals for providers interested in offering services now available primarily through Leidos (via telephone at 1-800-wxbrief and the web at www.1800wxbrief.com) and via apps, such as ForeFlight, Garmin Pilot, FltPlan.com, FlyQ, and others.
AOPA has a summary of the proposal on its website, here. The key background document is the FAA Future Flight Services (FFS) Strategic Plan (PDF). For more information about this shift, see Declining Demand for FSS Services at BruceAir.
The FAA Future Flight Services (FFS) Strategic Plan notes that pilots are rapidly adopting tablet, mobile, and web-based services for flight planning and related tasks:
Over the last decade, Flight Service users are trending towards self-assisted service delivery methods as technology improves and industry-provided services become more widely available. Voice services constitute a small percentage of transactions and a majority of the cost to the FAA, while automated services constitute the majority of transactions.
The FAA’s Future Flight Services Program (FFSP) vision is to transform and modernize the delivery of flight services over a 15-year period. The FAA believes that costs can be reduced by focusing on changing user behavior and migrating to automated, self-assisted service delivery models, while still maintaining quality of service and safety. Through FFSP, the FAA seeks to create a long-term contract vehicle and establish a relationship with the Service Provider, industry and user groups to better position the agency to take advantage of user behavior changes and improved technology.
Together, government and industry will work to realize three strategic goals:
1. Reduce the FAA cost to provide flight services, with a target reduction over 65%
2. Encourage the use of technology, industry best practices, and authoritative flight data accessed through the System-Wide Information Management (SWIM) Program to improve efficiency and quality of service delivery
3. Facilitate and gain stakeholder acceptance of changes in Flight Service delivery
The FAA is confident that a collaborative relationship among Flight Service users and stakeholders, the Flight Service Provider and the FAA will be the foundation for successful delivery of improved flight services at a price that fits within the FAA’s budget and at a level of safety and quality of service that meets or exceeds what is delivered today…
3.1 USER TRENDS TOWARDS AUTOMATION
The last decade has seen a steady increase in the use of self-service applications to the point that automated transactions outnumber human-assisted calls by 3 to 1 and 90% of flight plans are filed using automated means. The degree to which pilots rely on automation on the ground and in the cockpit runs the gamut from historic aircraft with little or no avionics to sophisticated flight planning software and electronic flight bags for high-end users.
A table in the strategic plan offers more details.