The former Federal Aviation Administration automated flight service center at Williamsport Regional Airport will close July 2, but its staff already has been cut considerably through attrition.
Closing of the Williamsport and Altoona centers, the only two in the state, were announced two years ago when the FAA awarded a $1.9 billion contract to a group headed by Lockheed Martin to operate the facilities. The Altoona facility already has been shut down.
Lockheed assumed management responsibilities in October 2005 and announced plans to reduce the number of centers in the 48 contiguous states, Hawaii and Puerto Rico from 58 to 20.
The closest centers to Pennsylvania are in Islip, N.Y., and Leesburg, Va. The Williamsport operations will be shifted to Leesburg, Lockheed spokeswoman Sheila Collins said yesterday.
The Williamsport staff has been reduced through attrition from 45 to 28, and 12 people have indicated they will accept offers to transfer to Leesburg, Collins said.
Pilots use the centers to file flight plans and receive aeronautical and weather information. Search and rescue operations are initiated if aircraft fail to arrive at times listed in flight plans.
The FAA estimates that privatizing the centers will save $2.2 billion over the next 10 years. With toll-free telephone numbers and the Internet, few pilots walk into a center to file a flight plan or obtain weather information, officials said.
The Williamsport Municipal Airport Authority owns the flight center building and will attempt to find a new tenant, Executive Director Thomas Hart said.
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