This Day in FAA History: January 30th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19480130: Orville Wright died at age 76. His brother Wilbur had died of typhoid 36 years earlier, at age 45.
19640130: FAA established a staffing validation program to provide a systematic and standardized agencywide approach to the problem of developing accurate staffing requirements. Under this program, staffing standards would largely be determined by onsite factfinding studies conducted by specialists trained in the program’s concepts and techniques.
19740130: A Pan American Boeing 707 crashed short of the runway during a rain storm at Pago Pago, American Samoa. The impact force only slightly exceeded that of a normal landing, and only the copilot received traumatic injuries. Yet only 10 of the 101 persons aboard escaped the post-crash fire. Six of these survivors died within nine days. Like two accidents in Chicago in late 1972, the crash helped to renew interest in controlling toxic fumes and other fire hazards. FAA issued four rulemaking proposals on these issues during 1974 and 1975 (see June 26, 1978).
In its initial finding on the probable cause of the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the crew had failed to adequately monitor their instruments during the approach (see April 26, 1974). Following complaints by the Air Line Pilots Association, the Board issued a revised report in 1977. The new report gave somewhat more emphasis to the presence of visual illusion and wind shear.
19810130: FAA announced the adoption of new security rules making commuter aircraft with a seating capacity of 60 or more passengers subject to the same anti-hijacking programs as the aircraft of larger airlines.
19890130: Effective this date, FAA established a Research, Engineering, and Development Advisory Committee.
19900130: The Department of Transportation (DOT) issued an order inviting applications from eligible foreign airlines wishing to serve U.S. cities having no single-plane service to the applicant’s home countries. On March 27, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines became the first of several carriers that received route awards under this program. During 1990, DOT announced agreements with a number of countries making possible expanded air service.
20040130: FAA Administrator Marion Blakey submitted a final proposal for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) multi-unit contract, along with the union’s objections, to Congress seeking help in resolving the issue. The NATCA contract represented about 1,900 employees – mostly administrative personnel in budget, regional accounting and logistics, regional airports, plus some engineers and nurses. Over the previous several months, there had been attempts on both sides to seek outside help to break the impasse, but when those failed, the next step for FAA – according to procedures established in the agency’s personnel reform legislation dating from the mid-1990s – was to submit its recommendations to Congress for action within 60 days. If the legislators failed to respond within that time, FAA could implement its own proposal. (See July 10, 2005.)
20060130: FAA announced that an international financial and accounting services firm validated the agency’s calculation that the average 2005 air traffic controller compensation package exceeded $166,000. Other independently validated figures revealed that, between 1998 and 2005, controller compensation had increased by 75 percent and the wage gap between controllers and all other FAA employees had doubled. Cost data used to reach these wage determinations were also independently shown to be consistent with the agency’s accounting system and its audited financial statements. FAA had begun contract negotiations with the union on July 13, 2005. The existing contract had expired on September 30, 2005, but an evergreen clause had allowed the original contract to remain in place so long as talks were ongoing. (See November 28, 2005; April 3, 2006.)
20070130: In a luncheon speech at the National Press Club, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey proposed a rule change that would allow pilots to fly until they were 65 years of age. Under the proposal, if one pilot on a flight were older than 60, the other pilot in the cockpit would have to be younger than 60. This would be a change from the mandatory retirement age of 60, which had been in effect since 1960. Before this change could become official, FAA would have to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking and ask for public comment. The agency cautioned it could take years to pass new regulations. December 11, the House of Representatives approved a bill to let pilots fly until they reached the age of 65 provided they took medical tests twice a year. It also mandated that airlines must perform additional proficiency checks on pilots over 60. December 12, the Senate passed a similar bill allowing pilots to fly until age 65. The new law would take effect immediately if signed by President George W. Bush. (See December 13, 2007.)
20090130: Delta signed a memorandum of understanding with the Air Line Pilots Association and FAA to reinstate its Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) for Delta pilots. Under the program, pilots could report safety concerns without repercussions. Delta said it had formal ASAP programs in place for its dispatchers and technical operations employees, and other safety reporting programs for flight attendants and ground employees. The airline also planned to continue ASAP programs currently covering pre-merger Northwest pilots, dispatchers, and load planners. (See January 14, 2000; September 22, 2010.)
20120130: FAA issued five new orders for ATO’s operational service units – en route, terminal, and system operations – that embodied the core principles of the safety management system (SMS). SMS integrated safety-related operational processes, procedures, policies and programs, and provided the framework for the ATO to anticipate potential sources of risk so it could act before they could jeopardize safety. (See November 5, 2010, August 6, 2012, January 7, 2015.)
20230130: FAA announced new Optimized Profile Descents (OPDs) for planes heading to Orlando, Kansas City, Omaha, Reno, and six airports in South Florida. OPDs safely eliminate the need for the fuel-consuming stair-step descent procedure. Under traditional methods, aircraft repeatedly level off and power up the engines. This burns more fuel and requires air traffic controllers to issue instructions at each step. With optimized descents, aircraft descend from cruising altitude to the runway in a smooth, continuous path with the engines at near idle.