I am a flight service specialist working at the London Flight Service Station (FSS) and I would like to submit a solution to a problem that, I'm sure, affects all FSSs. When an aircraft is overdue on a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan/itinerary, one of the first steps FSS must take is to check the destination airport. At remote airports, and/or at night, this can be a fairly complex undertaking that often involves sending the police to the airport in question.
To minimize this problem, pilots should include a contact phone number that is most likely to allow FSS to reach them directly in their flight plan or itinerary. This could be a home phone number of the friends/relatives visited, the hotel where they will be staying, or even a cell phone. This would allow us to establish more quickly the pilots’ whereabouts, and the search could be terminated before more drastic search and rescue (SAR) actions are taken.