This Day in FAA History: February 4th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19290204: The Aeronautics Branch established a Field Service Section which assumed certain duties performed by the former Airport Section, including assistance to municipalities and other organizations desiring to establish or improve airports. Five airport specialists, including the section chief, toured the U.S. to inspect sites, confer with officials, and address civic groups. The creation of the Field Service Section was part of a general reorganization of the Division of Airports and Aeronautic Information, formerly known as the Information Division, during fiscal 1929. (See November 1929.)
19490204: CAA granted authorization for commercial planes to use ground control approach (GCA) radar as a “primary aid” for bad-weather landings. (See April 9, 1947.)
19640204: As part of a continuing effort to modernize the National Airspace System, FAA announced the first phase of a long range plan to gradually reduce the number of flight service stations (FSSs) in the contiguous 48 states from 297 to 150 hard-core stations backed up by a network of manned and remote communications links. The resulting consolidated FSS system, made possible by advances in communications technology, would require between 500 and 600 fewer flight service specialists than the existing system and would save approximately $3 million annually, according to FAA estimates. In the first consolidation phase, 42 stations would be replaced either by manned information and communications facilities (MANICOMs) or airport information desks (AIDs), which would function as satellites of hard-core stations.
President Johnson approved the plan, and on April 14, 1964, instructed FAA Administrator Halaby to “move as rapidly as possible to close unnecessary flight service stations.” The plan, however, encountered strong resistance from general aviation organizations, individual private pilots, and communities where FSSs were scheduled to be closed. Critics of he plan argued that the remote, impersonal service provided by AIDs was no substitute for on the-spot service offered by manned stations. In view of this opposition, Congress attached a rider to the fiscal year 1965 Independent Offices Appropriations Act restraining FAA from closing any flight service stations during fiscal 1965. After restudying the plan, FAA in August 1965 informed Congress that it would not implement the consolidation program; instead, it would evaluate the service needed in each FSS area on a case-by-case basis. (See February 1976.)
19690204: The XB-70 supersonic research aircraft made its final flight, from Edwards AFB, Calif., to Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, where it was placed on exhibit in the Air Force Museum. (See March 25, 1967.)
19710204: FAA instituted the new “Keep-‘Em-High” program to reduce noise in the vicinity of the nation’s airports. Under the program, which had been announced in October 1970, the agency instructed controllers to keep flights as high as possible during landings and takeoffs, delaying turbojet aircraft in their
19710204: FAA permanently established a terminal control area (TCA) for Washington, D.C. (the Washington National/Andrews Air Force Base complex). A TCA had been established earlier for this location, on August 20, 1970, but rescinded the following day because of operational problems. The agency established a revised version on October 1, 1970, but adherence was purely voluntary until made mandatory by the February 4, 1971, rule. The Washington TCA was the third to be established. Two more TCAs were established on September 16, 1971, one for Los Angeles and one for the New York City airport complex. (See June 25, 1970 and January 1, 1974).
19760204: Secretary of Transportation William T. Coleman, Jr., announced his decision to permit the Anglo-French supersonic transport Concorde to land in the U.S. on a temporary, restricted basis. Air France and British Airways had made application in January 1975 to conduct limited commercial operations with the SST into New York Kennedy and Washington Dulles airports, proposing a maximum of four flights daily into Kennedy and two daily into Dulles. In an environmental impact statement issued in draft in March 1975 and in final on this date, FAA recommended granting the application on the grounds that the limited operations could not significantly harm the environment. Secretary Coleman authorized the proposed service for a trial period not to exceed 16 months.
Working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Office of the Secretary, FAA developed plans for noise, sonic boom, and low altitude pollution monitoring of the Concorde to determine its environmental impact during the trial period. Devices to monitor noise and emissions were installed at Washington Dulles and surrounding communities, and most were in operation when Concorde service to Dulles began on May 24, 1976. Intense opposition from environmental and citizen groups in the New York area and a ban by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey delayed Concorde service at Kennedy. (See April 27, 1973, September 23, 1977, and October 17, 1977)
19840204: FAA transferred the aviation education program from the Office of Aviation Policy and Plans to the Office of Public Affairs. Later, the program was reassigned to the Office of Training and Higher Education, which was under the Assistant Administrator for Human Resource Management, effective October 4, 1992.
19920204: FAA awarded a 10-year, $508 million contact to Electronic Data Systems (EDS) to provide automated data processing services to support such functions as safety analysis and payroll. On August 14- 15, the company successfully transferred computer applications and data from FAA’s Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City to an EDS data center in Plano, Texas. The EDS contract was part of the Computer Resources Nucleus (CORN) project, a program to “outsource” computer services begun in the fall of 1986. CORN had received criticism during June 1990 when General Accounting Office faulted FAA’s planning and justification of the project. The General Services Administration suspended procurement authority for CORN in September, but reinstated the program in December 1990 after FAA made revisions.
20000204: FAA awarded a multi-million-dollar contract to Computer Sciences Corp. to begin the software development and implementation of the Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications project (CPDLC). Designed to provide more efficient, automated communications between controller and pilot, and CPDLC would reduce operational errors resulting from misunderstood voice communications. FAA planned to deploy the prototype system at the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center in June 2003 with national deployment beginning six months later at the other 19 air route traffic control centers. (See April 16, 1998; October 7, 2002.)
20030204: Representative Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), member of the House Transportation aviation subcommittee, expressed concerns that cost overruns on the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) would compromise other agency programs. Tauscher, responding to a GAO report released on February 3, criticized FAA’s management of the program in these terms: “After seven years and $1.2 billion, only one major airport has new technology.” She considered STARS to be poorly managed. The GAO report was similar in content to a recent Department of Transportation Inspector General report. Tauscher warned the FAA: “This continued lackadaisical management is simply unacceptable.” Tauscher said the agency had spent $1.2 billion on STARS since 1996, and estimated it would take at least $153 million over five years to deploy the system. GAO pointed out that inaccuracies in the baseline data received by FAA did not reflect the current status of the contract and recommended changes in STARS management. (See September 20, 2002; June 9, 2003.)
20150204: FAA issued a final rule removing the prohibition against certain flights within the territory and airspace of Ethiopia contained in SFAR No. 887. (See January 2014.)