Visitors to Lockheed Martin Flight Services' (LMFS) booth at the AOPA Aviation Summit have a chance to get a first look at the new Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) Pilot Web Portal. The new system is integrated with the company's live briefers, allowing users to choose between an online briefing, a live briefing from an AFSS briefer or a combination of the two. You can also choose to receive alerts via text or email should an adverse condition arise after you've received the briefing through LMFS' Adverse Condition Alerting Service (ACAS).
Getting set up with the Pilot Web Portal is straightforward. You simply enter your email address and the system sends you login information. Like any online service, the initial setup takes a few minutes, but once you have your personal information and the aircraft data entered it will load automatically when you’re ready to get a briefing or file a flight plan.
Once you have entered your flight plan information into the system, you can call an AFSS briefer for updates or to clarify information that you may not be able to decipher yourself. The system has caller ID, so your information automatically pops up in front of the briefer, providing him or her immediate access to the data that you already provided online.
Also, “When you file a flight plan online with us it is immediately available,” said Jim Derr, director of Lockheed Martin Flight Service, so there are no issues with delays. Amending a flight plan is quick and easy, whether you do it yourself online or on the phone with a briefer.
You can also opt in or out of the ACAS, which sends you a text message, email or both if any adverse conditions, such as severe weather, runway closure or a Temporary Flight Restriction, arises after the briefing.
The briefing format online is identical to what the briefer sees at the AFSS. This not only makes perfect sense, it also presents a valuable learning opportunity for student pilots as they can request a standard briefing from the briefer, then follow along online and ask questions as they come up during the briefing.
If you don’t have a chance to visit the LMFS booth at the AOPA Aviation Summit, you’ll be able to set yourself up on the web portal (lmfsweb.afss.com) on November 5. LMFS is using this trial period to collect feedback from the initial users and make sure the system is operating as planned. The Pilot Web Portal service is free.
Derr said there are several upgrades and enhancements planned for the near and distant future that will make the Pilot Web Portal even more valuable for the user, such as the ability to print a condensed, customizable auto summary of the briefing and to have your flight tracked live for more efficient search and rescue response times (this service will also be free but requires special equipment available from Spidertracks).