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FSS

Some Flight Service Stations to Close
 

FAA flight service station here will close

 


Private business will run the stations, closing 38 of the 58 nationwide

By Ray Barrington
News-Chronicle

The Federal Aviation Administration will close its flight service station at Austin Straubel International Airport as part of a consolidation of the stations nationwide.

No timetable has been set for the closing of the Green Bay station, one of 38 to be closed with 20 to be privately operated by Lockheed Martin, which won a $1.9 billion contract to operate the remaining stations.

About 55 to 60 jobs are expected to be affected locally, said Mike Micoletti, local representative for the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists. It is not known whether they will be offered jobs in other locations, although Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Wendy Owen told the Washington Post the company will offer jobs to all of the displaced FAA employees, with no loss in salary and with comparable benefits.

"I guess everyone's offered a job, but as far as the time period we don't know how long it will be," Micoletti said.

"It'll take six months during which we're still going to be government employees, then we'll be Lockheed Martin employees. But that's only guaranteed while they stay in Green Bay."

"I'd hate to leave this area," said another local controller who asked not to be identified.

The FAA announced Tuesday it had selected Lockheed Martin to provide the services, paying $1.9 billion over 10 years. Lockheed Martin said it would begin "incremental" closings in April 2006, finishing the consolidation by 2007.

The flight service stations provide weather briefings, inflight radio communications, flight planning and search-and-rescue support. They do not separate or control aircraft.

Along with its service in Green Bay, the local station also assists in Oshkosh during the Experimental Aircraft Association convention each July.

That service, and the amount of new equipment recently installed at the local station, had Green Bay employees hoping they'd survive the cut.

"This process started two years ago," Micoletti said.

They got the word Tuesday.

"That was the first we knew," he said. "There was a press release from a government representative on line that all the FSSs could dial in and watch."

Micoletti said he did not want to speculate on why Green Bay was one of the closed stations.

With the consolidation, Wisconsin will not have a station. The nearest ones would be in Princeton, Minn., Kankakee, Ill., and Lansing, Mich. The new system would have three hubs, all in the southern United States.

In its announcement, the FAA said it would save $2.2 billion over the next 10 years.

A statement from the union representing the controllers, the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists, condemned the FAA decision and said it was an attempt to release the older staffers before they could retire and claim pensions.

"As a direct result of his management agenda, President Bush is sanctioning government employees losing a large portion of their pensions," said Kate Breen, president of the NAATS.

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Last modified: 07/23/09