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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Monday, July 09, 2007

    Government's Largest Contract with Private Industry


    According to AOPA, one of the most politically influential pilot organizations, many pilots have experienced safety-compromising problems ranging from extremely long hold times to inaccurate weather information. These problems are serious and deserve the attention of AOPA, FAA Administrator Marian Blakely and the aviation subcommittees in Congress, all of whom supported the privatization of the flight service system more than three years ago. The transition from government control to the private sector is one with obvious challenges and it is difficult to understand how supporters have quickly become turncoats -- criticizing Lockheed Martin when difficulties surface and taking malicious actions when they could continue to support the company and ease the transition.

    Further complicating matters is a workforce of specialists who fought unsuccessfully to prevent the privatization of their careers with hopes of saving their government pensions. According to an age-discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of flight service specialists, 92 percent of the flight service workforce is over 40 years old. The lawsuit alleges that "... there is no reasonable factor other than the age of the workforce that is motivating this contracting-out decision." The only option for those specialists who hoped to maintain their pension was to find another federal job. The greatest challenge: Many flight service specialists (and air traffic controllers) have specialized skills, but are not formally educated beyond a high school diploma, making it difficult to transition into another government position.

    An uncomfortable workforce that faces financial uncertainty coupled with the disgruntled flying public has made it very difficult to provide pilots with a needed service. It is important for pilots to afford flight service specialists with similar patience and graciousness once offered to them by their flight instructors. We are learning a new system that was forced on us as a result of decisions largely supported by pilot organizations and politicians under the pretense of the best interests of pilots in mind.


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