Filing Flight Plan Fiascos

Things that don't fit anywhere else.
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topilot
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Filing Flight Plan Fiascos

Postby topilot » Wed Feb 06, 2008 7:17 pm

I haven't had any real problem filing and getting IFR flight plans filed on a daily basis, so was perplexed when I had heard of the problems reported by other pilots since it was taken over by the private sector.....that is until today. We were on the ground at DAB and trying to get a landline connection with WXBRIEF. After about 40 minutes of getting no rsponse after dialing them up, we finally gave up and launched into somewhat marginal conditions for FPR. We got into ORL airspace using flight following and asked for an IFR clearance to our destination. Great service from them with a direct and climb to 4,000'.

Has anyone else experienced this type of silence from our new friends in FSS??? The line was totally dead with no hold on instructions or acknowledgement.

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topilot
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Re: Filing Flight Plan Fiascos

Postby topilot » Fri Feb 08, 2008 4:42 pm

Since I posted this message two days ago, I spoke to a briefer and explained the situation. He told me all the systems were down during the time I had called (about 2 PM) and said he promised they have fixed the problem so it doesn't happen again. Let's all hope he is correct!

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Madmax
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Re: Filing Flight Plan Fiascos

Postby Madmax » Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:01 pm

I file electronically without exception.,

For two reasons,

1. I can’t stand waiting in excess of 20min on the phone to get a briefer, to give me the exact same data I can get online, (or less data than I can get online).

2. It saves time as they never like my flight plane..

And here is why,

My typical flight plan is this:

Departure airport DIRECT Destination airport.

Then I let clearance delivery give me whatever they want.

In the northeast corridor you learn very early, that you will almost NEVER get what you file, so why put any work into it.
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ironchemist
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Re: Filing Flight Plan Fiascos

Postby ironchemist » Sat Feb 09, 2008 11:02 am

As an instrument student I'll say that having heard all the chaos associated with filing through FSS I was truly dreading doing this regularly, but so far here is my experience:

First IFR X-Country: On a bad night with lots of weather here in the midwest, I called FSS and within 1 minute had a briefer who gave an outstanding briefing, and then filed my flight plan with no trouble. Turns out we had the wrong fleet plane tail #, so not 5 minutes later we called the tower (phone) to ask if they had it yet, and they did and made the correction with no issues.

Second IFR X-Country: Called in from work and got a briefing for the flight, again, no delay, full briefing and all took under 10 minutes dialing to hanging up. Called back to file the flight plan, again, no delays, and everything was ship-shape when we called to get our clearance.

So I suppose my point in writing is that yes, there are some problems, I still hear the stories, but from one user here its not NEARLY as terrible as I expected based on what I hear on UCAP and elsewhere. I won't say expectations are too high, they should be high, this is a safety issue, but I will say perhaps we should give SOME credit for improvement while we keep asking for things to get constantly better. Remember, if your customer can't be satisfied at some point it isn't worth the hassle of trying to make them happy anymore. Just my $0.02, whoever is out there briefing Indiana, keep up the good work, its appreciated.

Chris

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Madmax
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Re: Filing Flight Plan Fiascos

Postby Madmax » Sat Feb 09, 2008 2:06 pm

No one will argue that you can get a good brief, or a fast one.

However it is becoming more of the exception than the rule. Much of it now is how busy that FSS is. we (in the greater NYC area) lost Millville at the transition so now everything gets sent to the NY office, but the staffing at NY has not increased at the same rate. it is a Net Loss,

Plus, it is my understanding (correct me if I am wrong) the contractor (lockeed) gets paid per product. So If I already have the NOTAMs or the latest weather, and just need to file, I don’t need the outlook, if they ask and you accept, then they get to charge us (the government, your tax dollars) extra. Truth is, over time a proficient pilot can pull up the weather themselves, and get a far better picture than FSS can give over the phone.

The joke has always been that FSS’ job was to keep you on the ground. Yet one time while flying west there was a huge front - thunderstorms/ went from TX to NY I had landed at Muhlenberg (KY?) They had no computer weather, I called FSS, and the briefer said, If you leave RIGHT NOW, there is a hole in the front due north, launch now and call me on 122.2 when you are airborne over BWG and I will update you on the line.

Privatization of government services does NOT save us money, nor is it a better way of doing business (think: KBR/Blackwater). Making the government work efficiently is the issue. The solution is not selling off our infrastructure to political allies.
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jimg
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Re: Filing Flight Plan Fiascos

Postby jimg » Sat Feb 09, 2008 8:07 pm

My experience with Flight Service generally has been ok, except once when trying to reach
Bangor FSS (pre-consolidation) to file IFR out of Maine in marginal weather -- they were busy and short-staffed
in those conditions.

Post-consolidation, some of the (presumably newer) briefers don't know the local area
airports and IDs. Boy I sure miss the Williamsport FSS.

More to the point of the post-consolidation and online everything era: I agree with getting all
the information I can through other sources. By the time I talk to a live briefer, I have all the
weather, I just listen for confirmation, and I have most of the NOTAMs.

There are certain things that I want to hear live, from a FS employee, on the phone before each flight.
Very few actually, and I could dispense with the rest (saving time and $$). I want to hear the
local NOTAMs for the airports enroute as these can be elusive through other channels, and a pain
in the neck to pull out of the DUAT[S] briefing (another subject entirely). The other thing I need
to hear on a recorded line is "There are no TFRs along your route of flight." Of course, I already
know that before I call, but we have been advised at our local FSDO flight safety seminars that
we should get that directly and on tape from FS staff because (and you'll love this logic) if the staffer
is wrong and misses a TFR, that is a lot easier to defend in your license hearing than if the DUAT[S] or FAA
TFR web site omits a TFR, and you didn't call Flight Service to double-check the online sources!

What a world.
Jim

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Madmax
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Re: Filing Flight Plan Fiascos

Postby Madmax » Fri Feb 22, 2008 8:30 am

It appears that I am not the only one, I was starting to get a complex..

from AOPA

entire article at http://www.aopa.org/flightplanning/arti ... 21fss.html

STILL PLENTY OF IMPROVEMENT NEEDED ON FSS, REPORT SHOWS

Lost flight plans continue to be the biggest area of complaint for pilots calling the flight service station (FSS) system, according to a report submitted to Congress. This is the first such report the FAA is now providing Capitol Hill every 90 days to show what it and Lockheed Martin are doing to fix long hold times, dropped calls, and problems with briefer knowledge and performance. "The report affirms what we already knew, but the real test will be in the performance of the system from here on out," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. "The system's performance has frustrated many in the aviation community. Pilots must be able to get the services they need."
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Re: Filing Flight Plan Fiascos

Postby Scofreyjet » Fri Feb 22, 2008 9:11 pm

I recently saw something that came out of AOPA saying that the number of calls to the FSS problem hotline has dropped off significantly, even though the "buzz" is that there are still lots of problems. We need to call when we encounter problems with Flight Service (like the dropped call I got last Saturday, followed by long hold time :evil: )

The article that Madmax linked to contains the hotline number: 1-888-FLT-SRVC (1-888-358-7782) and also a link to the AOPA Flight Service short-cut card. Thanks, Madmax!
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Pilot_MKN
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Re: Filing Flight Plan Fiascos

Postby Pilot_MKN » Sun Mar 09, 2008 5:41 pm

At Delta State University, our instructors encourage us NOT to file flight plans on the computer due to how often they get lost. Personally, Ive had two of my plans lost after filing on DUATs.
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champguy
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Re: Filing Flight Plan Fiascos

Postby champguy » Sun Mar 09, 2008 10:20 pm

I tried duat.com again and I'll have to go back through flight school plus continuing ed to get anything usefull out of it. EAA flight planner is easy for me, helpfull in planning, shows TFRs, everything but a legal briefing.
The weather I prefer to get by standing outside, looking in the direction I plan to go, and using good judgement. If I need flight service for the weather, I've got no business being in the air. Nobody there has ever tried to fly a Champ cross country.
Remember, not all who wander, are lost.
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