This Day in FAA History: February 3rd

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19520203: CAA put into effect a plan to consolidate aviation safety functions under one chief in each of its seven continental regions and to reorganize the Washington Office of Aviation Safety. Under development for more than a year, the program was intended to achieve better coordination between CAA’s field services and the public and the industry. Designed also to keep pace with rapid changes in technology, the reorganization placed air carrier and general aviation specialists in separate groups.
19590203: A Pan Am 707 entered a steep dive toward the Atlantic after its autopilot disengaged at 35,000 feet. The captain, who had been in the passenger cabin when the dive began, fought powerful gravity forces to return to the cockpit. Taking command from the copilot, he was able to end the dive at 6,000 feet. Prompted by this near-disaster, FAA in April began rigorously enforcing an often-disregarded rule requiring all flight-crew members to remain at their stations “except when the absence of one is necessary in connection with his regular duties.
19640203: A series of sonic boom studies began as FAA launched a six-month project to test public reaction to the phenomenon in Oklahoma City, using regularly scheduled overflights by Air Force supersonic jets. On August 5, the National Academy of Sciences announced the establishment of a committee to study effects of sonic boom as related to the development of the supersonic transport. On November 18, FAA launched a three-month study of the effects of sonic boom on typical structures in White Sands, N.M. (See January 27, 1965.)
19660203: The Soviet Union’s unmanned spacecraft LUNA IX made the first soft landing on the moon. (See June 2, 1966.)
19920203: FAA announced a computerized testing system, expected to speed selection of air traffic controller trainees and improve their success rate, as well as a strengthened training program. Previously, candidates spent their first 9 weeks of employment training and testing and were terminated if they were not successful. The new program took 4 1/2 days, demonstrated an equivalent ability to predict success, and was conducted before an individual was hired.
19940203: DOT announced a group of new transportation-industry regulations on drugs and alcohol that had been developed in response to the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of October 28, 1991. Among these was an FAA rule, published on February 15, 1994, that established an aviation industry alcohol misuse prevention program. The program included pre-employment and random alcohol testing of safety-sensitive employees of airlines and certain other FAA-certificated operations (see May 10, 1995). In announcing the new rules, DOT also stated that its operating agencies would implement similar alcohol misuse prevention programs for their own safety-sensitive employees. At the same time, DOT unveiled a proposal to lower the minimum random drug testing rate for industries that record a positive rate of less than one percent for two calendar years and maintain that record during subsequent years. On November 22, DOT issued a final rule allowing such industries to test only 25 percent of safety-sensitive employees rather than 50 percent. Accordingly, FAA reduced the random drug testing rate for the aviation industry, effective on January 1, 1995.
19990203: Department of Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater announced that the Clinton Administration would propose legislation to promote competition at large airline hubs dominated by one airline. The draft legislation would state that before they could raise passenger fees, the operators of such facilities would be required to explain how they intended to promote competition. The bill would also include a proposal to charge fees for use of the air traffic systems and would require a “performance based-organization” to be created to provide for air traffic control within FAA. Aspects of these proposals proved controversial and ran into stiff opposition in Congress and in portions of the aviation community. (See April 5, 2000.)
20090203: Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) delivered Continental Airlines’ first winglet-equipped Boeing 757-300. Continental became the first U.S. major airline to order blended winglets when it ordered the modification for both retrofit on 757-200 and for production line fit on 737 Next Generations in April 2004. FAA awarded APB a supplemental type certificate for the winglet upgrade on the 757-200 in May 2005, and APB officially launched the retrofit for the 757-300 in June 2008 when it won orders from Continental and German tour operator Condor.
20110203: FAA announced it had signed an agreement with JetBlue to allow the airline to fly more precise, satellite-based flights from Boston and New York to Florida and the Caribbean beginning in 2012. Under the agreement, as many as 35 of JetBlue’s A320 aircraft would be equipped with automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) avionics over the next two years, enabling them to fly in two major routes off the East Coast even if traditional radar coverage was not available. The agreement also allowed JetBlue to fly a new route to the Caribbean. FAA planned to collect valuable data for its next generation air transportation system (NextGen) by observing and conducting real-time operational evaluations of ADS-B on revenue flights. (See December 16, 2010; February 28, 2011.)
20160203: Republican leaders in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introduced a $69 billion funding bill, the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act, that would move air traffic control operations from FAA to a not-for-profit corporation. Bill Shuster (R-PA) sponsored the bill. NATCA and Airlines for America, a trade group for most major airlines, backed the legislation. The committee held hearings on the bill on February 11, and approved the bill the following day. The bill did not go to the full House for a vote. (See June 15, 2015; June 5, 2017.)
20210203: Pete Buttigieg became Secretary of Transportation.