Aviation Weather Briefings

FAA Should Buy Direct User Access Terminal Systems, Not Develop Them Gao ID: RCED-86-173 June 6, 1986

In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) draft reports comparing various direct user access terminal systems (DUATS) designed to reduce the work load of flight service station specialists by permitting pilots to obtain weather briefings and file flight plans with their own personal computers. GAO specifically addressed the issue of whether DUATS will be provided as part of the Flight Service Automation System program, developed as an FAA Technical Center independent system, or purchased as a service provided by commercial vendors.

GAO noted that DUATS would enable FAA to reduce the cost of supplying each preflight weather briefing by more than two-thirds compared with existing flight service station practices. GAO found that: (1) the commercial systems were the most attractive; (2) the Flight Service Automation System is still in the design stage and involves more risks than a commercial system or the FAA Technical Center system; (3) FAA has not operationally tested the Technical Center system, which lacks a weather graphics display; (4) commercially available systems that currently provide weather graphics displays would be less costly than the Technical Center prototype system; (5) commercial systems have been servicing states and individuals for several years, thereby reducing the technical and operational risks; (6) FAA agrees with GAO that commercial systems are the best option; and (7) the FAA budget request is no longer appropriate and needs to be revised.


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