Sunday, October 17, 2010

Valet Service at Flight Service

Imagine driving up to a nice restaurant. A parking attendant opens your car door and a doorman holds the restaurant front door for you. The host greets you by name and takes you to a table, while a waiter brings your preferred beverage along with a menu.

That's custom service, but it isn't the exclusive province of the rich and famous. Lockheed-Martin Flight Service also provides custom service for pilots. It's called a profile, and it's a nifty idea. A profile consists of information about you that seldom changes. It is on-file and can be accessed quickly by a briefer. Basically this information is used to populate the static information blocks on a flight plan form. This would include your tail number, airplane type and equipment code, true airspeed, your name, phone number, home base and aircraft color. You can even store frequently used routes. It can be tied to your phone number, so whenever you call, a flight plan form is pulled up that already contains your information. You would only need to add the specifics of the flight that you intend to file.

Creating a profile with Flight Service is incredibly easy. Just call Flight Service and tell the briefer you wish to create a profile. He or she then asks you the questions needed for the profile. You can create profiles for more than one aircraft. Profiles can be keyed to your name or phone number. If you key your profile to your last name and your last name is one that is commonly used, you can code it with a special tag so the briefer can easily find it. For example, Smith could be coded as Smith135. You can store more than one phone number, although one phone number needs to be designated the master phone number.

With a pilot profile on file, the flight service specialist can pull up a flight plan form that already has about half of your information filled in. The template he or she has instantly available might look something like this. With so much information already filled in, it’s a quick process to fill in the remaining blocks.

Creating and using a pilot profile with Flight Service is a terrific feature, of which too many pilots remain blissfully unaware. It saves time and makes filing a flight plan a lot easier. And although it won't provide a beverage along with your weather briefing, it makes life easier for both you and the Flight Service briefer.