- Published: July 18, 2013
Confirms Fears of Sub-Par Contractors Operating Vital Systems
LEESBURG, VA – The Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS) is baffled by a ridiculous contractor error made Monday, which left the Leesburg flight service station without critical power for close to four hours after a Lockheed Martin contractor mistakenly killed the power to all National Airspace System (NAS) equipment.
The contractor in question, an air traffic supervisor, was in the process of performing security sweeps around 2:00 a.m. when he walked in the critical power room and heard an audible alarm, which was only sounding to indicate that a switch over to secondary power after a loss of primary power had taken place. Instead of standing by, the contractor attempted to silence the alarm by hitting the emergency stop button, which was not a maintenance action, resulting in a four-hour loss of total power to the service station.
The flight service station provides weather briefings, pilot reports and flight information that pilots rely on to travel safely to and from their destinations. “Luckily, an FAA systems specialist was able to correct this rookie mistake,” said Tom Brantley, national president of PASS. “The FAA really needs to make sure that the contractors it is using to replace highly trained federal workers are at the very least competent in these vital systems.”
In 2005, Lockheed was awarded a $1.9 billion, 10-year contract after the FAA decided that the private sector could run the stations better than the government agency. Currently, Lockheed is consolidating a network of 58 flight service stations around the country into 20 stations.
PASS represents more than 11,000 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense who install, maintain, support and certify air traffic control and national defense equipment, inspect and oversee the commercial and general aviation industries, develop flight procedures and perform quality analyses of the aviation systems. For more information, visit the PASS website at www.passnational.org.