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February 05, 2015 // Facility Spotlight: Juneau Flight Service Station

jnuafssJuneau Flight Service Station (JNU FSS) is a 24-hour facility. JNU FSS takes over the tower frequencies when it closes at 8 p.m. local time, as well as the KTN FSS frequencies at 9:15 p.m., and SIT FSS frequencies at 9:45 p.m. By 9:45 p.m., the JNU flight service specialists work the area from the southern panhandle and up the Gulf of Alaska, almost to Whittier. Starting at midnight, the Flight Service Specialist usually has to assist several Medevac flights as well as Alaska Airlines’ freighters.

JNU FSS NATCA FacRep Doug Rice says after the Juneau Tower closes, JNU FSS also deals with local air carriers, air taxis and any other general aviation inflight duties as well as NOTAMs and preflight weather briefing. After SIT and KTN close, they deal with the same thing, with even more frequencies. Between 5 and 6 a.m., before the other facilities open, JNU FSS specialists work the morning rush with air carriers, air taxis, etc. They also issue NOTAMs and weather briefings.

“It slows down after 7 a.m. when the surrounding facilities are open, and then it picks up later — more so in the summer than winter,” says Rice. “Juneau is a tourist town so the work is seasonal.”

Rice says JNU FSS is unique in a lot of ways compared to other Flight Service Stations.

“We, as well as SIT and KTN, do a lot of inflight work,” he says. “We don’t have any roads in or out so transportation is by air or by sea. Pilots up here fly in lower weather than elsewhere.”

Rice explains that the panhandle, in Southeast Alaska, is part of a large rainforest so aviators experience their fair share of difficulties, like wind and IFR conditions.

“It’s very temperate here so most times our winters our much milder than locations in the lower 48,” adds Rice. “It’s also much busier in the summer due to cruise ships and other forms of tourism. There are several air taxis that operate glacier tours, etc., in the summertime and the terrain here forces them into tight quarters.”

Rice says the NATCA atmosphere at JNU FSS is good, and living in Juneau is great, especially if you like the outdoors.