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TDiFH

This Day in FAA History: June 13th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.
19680613: The Secretary of Transportation delegated responsibility for administering the aircraft loan guarantee program to the FAA Administrator. The Department of Transportation Act of 1966 had transferred final loan guarantee responsibility from the Secretary of Commerce to the Secretary of Transportation. Authority to guarantee loans under the act had lapsed in 1967, but was renewed in 1973 with changes that included an increase of the maximum limit per carrier to $30 million. (See October 15, 1962, and September 7, 1977.)
19790613: The following changes in the FAA Washington Headquarters organization became effective on this date:
*A new Office of Associate Administrator for Airports was established.
*The Office of Airport Programs and the position of Assistant Administrator for Airports Programs were abolished.
*The Office of Airport Standards and the Office of Airport Planning and Programming were established and placed under the executive direction of the Associate Administrator for Airports.
*Metropolitan Washington Airports were placed under the executive direction of the Associate Administrator for Airports.
19900613: FAA dedicated its first child care center to be built “from the ground up” in a ceremony at the Aeronautical Center.

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Airports UnspinningTheSpin

Aurora Airport is an Example of How GA Airports are Changing for the Worse

Aurora Airport (KUAO) sits on the north edge of Marion County, 22-miles south of Oregon’s busiest commercial airport, Portland International (KPDX). In late 2021, a new airport master plan process was initiated: FAA put up more than $1 million, airport-sponsor Oregon Department of Aviation (ODAV) inked a contract, an outfit known as ‘Century West’ began crafting all the technical reports, and another outfit known as ‘JLA’ took on managing a 2-year public engagement process. Now, it has stretched out to a 4+year process, burning out earlier concerned citizens who just could not endure this slow-motion special-interest landslide. The objective of all of this waste: to finalize documents supporting the intended outcome…. a lengthening of the KUAO runway.

The current KUAO Airport Master Plan is an excellent example of the gross inequities between the few who benefit from airport expansion and the many who are impacted in surrouding communities. It mirrors similar failures at KBED, KAPA, KBJC, KTKI, and so many other GA airports nearly 50 years past their peak.

The Overall Trend

In the last few decades, while General Aviation (GA) has been declining to a fraction of the peak operational levels of around 1979-1980, there has been one dominant area of expansion: private and charter jets based at GA airports. It has become a very common phenomenon to see declining GA airports retool, with the following game-plan:

  1. tear down older T-hangars and other aircraft parking structures and, build larger, climate-controlled box hangars;
  2. infill undeveloped airport lands with even more corporate box hangars,  for housing jets that burn 100 to 500+ fuel gallons per hour;
  3. spend millions in nearly free FAA AIP grant monies to lengthen runways and add taxiways, to serve heavier jets;
  4. aggressively market to the wealthiest set,  to bring their private/personal jet to be based at the airport;
  5. use even more federal grant monies to ‘secure’ the oversized airport acreage with perimeter fencing (ostensibly to stop airport terrorist activities, but more importantly, to insulate the airport users from the 99.9% who are OUTSIDE the airport, by concealing on-airport activities from public view);
  6. accommodate a tiny few (usually one or two) airport operators, who want to make money catering to the elite jet owners who base at the airport, selling fuel, maintenance, pilot services, ‘customer satisfaction’ services, and management services (such as leasing out the personal jet for expensive air charter work); and,
  7. ‘upgrade’ the airport name to include the word ‘Executive’. Ah, such brilliant marketing (…but, to hell with impacted citizens).

The net result is what used to be a LOCAL airport serving pilots living in the local community, becomes an invading occupying force, serving outside interests and ‘regulated’ (is that really a fair word?) by the captured regulatory agency FAA… from far-away FAA regional offices and from Washington, DC. Gee, what could go wrong?

And, one more serious problem with this trend toward personal and charter jets: the long-term impact accelerates Climate Change. When it comes to outsized personal carbon footprints, private jet flying is the fastest way for a person to burn fossil fuels… an hour of such flying can exceed a year of fuel for a personal car. Private jet trips, mostly for vacations or to jaunt out to a distant game or do some shopping because ‘…why not?…I can afford it…’, this kind of mindless flying hyperconsumption  is the worst of the worst within aviation.

What Can You Do About It?

Show up. Ask questions. Speak up about what you do not want to happen at your local airport. Advocate for future generations, and for a viable climate future.

Airport Master Plan processes happen. They are strongly dominated by aviation interests, and designed to be controlled by the aviation players (FAA, the airport sponsor and the contractors). But, the impacted side needs to attend, too. The next KUAO event is an Open House by ODAV, at North Marion High School, 4-7pm on June 13th. For more info, see the webpage by City of Wilsonville.

Just show up. That’s how we make the democratic process work.

And, to help you learn more, here’s a KUAO reference document to dive into: a well-written Airport Master Plan from 1976 (36Mb). Before all the spin and games began, when officials actually tried to serve more and deceive less; plus, this one was published right when GA was peaking (in no small part due to student-pilot training subsidies via the GI Bill). It is a fascinating read.

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TDiFH

This Day in FAA History: June 12th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.
19340612: The President signed the Air Mail Act of 1934 into law (see February 9, 1934). The principal provisions were
19470612: At the request of the Air Coordinating Committee, the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics established a special committee (SC-31) to study and develop recommendations for the safe control of expanding air traffic. This action followed acceptance by the ACC of an Air Transport Association report on the same problem. (See February 17, 1948.)
19630612: The Administrator announced the appointment of David D. Thomas to the new FAA position of Deputy Administrator for Programs.

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TDiFH

This Day in FAA History: June 11th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.
19260611: The Ford Trimotor made its first flight. The famous “Tin Goose” was a high-wing monoplane with all-metal construction and a corrugated skin. The original 4-AT model seated eight passengers, later increased to twelve, and the improved 5-AT seated up to thirteen passengers. The Trimotor became a workhorse for U.S. airlines and remained in production until 1933.
19280611: Friedrich Stamer made the first rocket-powered piloted flight, in a tailless glider, at Wasserkuppe, Germany. Takeoff was assisted by an elastic launching rope. The craft traveled approximately one mile.
19460611: The Administrative Procedure Act became law, prescribing more uniform and publicized procedures for executive agencies to use in rulemaking, adjudicatory proceedings, and similar administrative actions. Federal agencies engaged in rulemaking were required to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register, unless this would be “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.”.

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TDiFH

This Day in FAA History: June 10th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.
19330610: President Roosevelt issued an order changing the designation and broadening the duties of the Commerce Department’s Assistant Secretary for Aeronautics, effective 61 days from this date. The position was given the simpler title of Assistant Secretary of Commerce and made responsible for bureaus dealing with surface transportation as well as air transportation. A second Assistant Secretary had charge of bureaus dealing with trade and industry.
On June 15, the position of Director of Aeronautics became head of the Aeronautics Branch.

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TDiFH

This Day in FAA History: June 9th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.
19280609: Australian pilots Charles E. Kingsford-Smith and Charles T. P. Ulm, accompanied by a navigator and a radioman, both Americans, made the first transpacific crossing by air. They flew from Oakland, Calif., to Brisbane, Australia, with stopovers at Hawaii and the Fiji Islands, in a modified Fokker F.VII.
19460609: CAA regional offices, rather than Washington headquarters, became the approving authority for flying schools, repair stations, ground schools, mechanic schools, and parachute lofts. The increasing number of applications for CAA aircraft and airman certificates had made this further decentralization of CAA services necessary.
19650609: FAA conducted a one-day national symposium on aircraft noise in New York City.

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TDiFH

This Day in FAA History: June 8th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.
19610608: FAA announced plans to establish an additional regional office, with headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. The new Southern Region office would have responsibility for FAA activities in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Swan Island–areas currently under the supervision of FAA Region 2 headquartered at Fort Worth, Tex. The Southern Region would be a controlled installation with minimum staffing, designed to serve as a model for reducing regional headquarters cost through prudent management. At the same time, FAA disclosed that its regions would be identified by geographical rather than numerical designations. Thus, Region 1 would become the Eastern Region; Region 2, Southwest Region; Region 3, Central Region; Region 4, Western Region; Region 5, Alaskan Region; and Region 6, Hawaiian Region (subsequently changed to Pacific Region)
19650608: Administrator Halaby dedicated the helipad atop FAA’s Headquarters building (FOB-l0A) at ceremonies attended by six former FAA/CAA administrators and William F. McKee, President Johnson’s nominee to succeed Halaby.

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TDiFH

This Day in FAA History: June 7th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.
19350607: In recommending extension of the Emergency Railroad Transportation Act to Congress, President Roosevelt repeated his views on the regulation of aviation (see January 22, 1935). “Air transportation,” he wrote, “should be brought into a proper relation to other forms of transportation by subjecting it to regulation by the same agency.” He said it was his hope “that the Interstate Commerce Commission may, with the addition of the new duties that I have indicated, ultimately become a Federal Transportation Commission with comprehensive powers.” This reorganization, he believed, should not be delayed beyond the second session of the 74th Congress, or 1936.

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TDiFH

This Day in FAA History: June 6th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.
19360606: The Socony-Vacuum Oil Company began using the catalytic cracking method to produce aviation gasoline, a step forward in the technology of aviation fuel production.
19450606: Representatives from 26 countries created the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO). (See November 1-December 7, 1944, and April 4, 1947.)
19670606: The nation’s First Lady, Mrs. “Lady Bird” Johnson, presented FAA’s first Airport Beautification Award to Phoenix, Ariz., for its Sky Harbor Municipal Airport. FAA established the award to honor organizations that protect, restore, or enhance airport beauty.
19670606: FAA adopted a new U.S. standard for Category II approach lights to conform with the standard of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

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TDiFH

This Day in FAA History: June 5th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.
19270605: Charles A. Levine, a New York businessman, became the first person to cross the Atlantic by airplane as a passenger when he flew nonstop between New York and Germany in a Bellanca monoplane piloted by Clarence Chamberlin, whom he had sponsored.
19610605: FAA announced a program of improvements to Washington National Airport that would include easier highway access, upgraded baggage handling, enclosure of walkways, and a new taxiway near the North Terminal, a facility that had been added in 1958.
19630605: President Kennedy announced his decision to proceed with the development of a U.S. supersonic transport (SST) in an address at the Air Force Academy’s commencement exercises.