The Fairbanks Flight Service Station (FAI FSS) is considered a "hub" facility that includes Northway FSS, Nome FSS, Kotzebue FSS, Barrow FSS and Deadhorse FSS as satellite facilities. In 2007, all Alaska FSS facilities received an upgrade to OASIS equipment, which means all Alaska FSS facilities now use the same basic equipment to display weather, NOTAM and flight plan information. The only significant difference now with regard to equipment is with the telephone switching system. The FSS hub facilities (FAI, ENA and JNU) have elaborate telephone switching equipment that the satellite facilities do not have which allows the pilot to select various options such as; listen to any of the TIBS recordings, leave a flight plan on the fast file system, or be connected to a preflight weather briefer. There is also a significant difference with regard to operational procedures, in that the satellite FSS's focus quite a bit more on Local Airport Advisory Services and Special VFR Clearances.
When a Satellite FSS closes for the night or for the season, the parent FSS takes over most of their functions. The basic functions of any Flight Service Station include:
- Pilot briefings
- Receiving and processing VFR and IFR flight plans
- Originating NOTAMs
- Relaying IFR clearances
- VFR search and rescue services
- Airport advisories
- Providing TIBS recordings (FSS hub facilities only)
- Providing TWEB recordings (selected Alaska stations only)
- Providing Automatic Flight Information Service (AFIS) broadcasts (selected Alaska FSSs only)
- Advising Customs and Immigration of trans border flights
- Assisting lost aircraft and aircraft in emergency situations
- Take weather observations (selected locations only)
These services are provided through a combination of telephone and radio communications. Toll free phone numbers are available in most cases. However it may be necessary in some situations to use a regular phone number if, for example, you are calling from outside the U.S. Radio communications are provided through Remote Communications Outlets (RCOs) or in some cases through Ground Communication Outlets (GCOs). An RCO is for use either on the ground or airborne while a GCO is for use only while the aircraft is on the ground.
Outlets are also given different names according to the type of facility they serve. If an outlet serves a FSS, it is called a RCO. If an outlet serves a terminal facility (control tower or approach control ), it is called a Remote Transmitter/Receiver (RTR). If an outlet serves an Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC), it is called a Remote Communications Air/Ground (RCAG) facility. GCOs can serve any type of facility, in fact they often serve two facilities simultaneously according to the number of clicks keyed on the microphone.