This Day in FAA History: February 15th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19300215: The Aeronautics Branch announced that it had issued the first rating under the Airport Rating Regulations to the municipal airport at Pontiac, Mich. The airport received the highest possible rating, A-1-A. The designation system enabled pilots to know at a glance what facilities to expect at any of the rated airports, which the Branch inspected in response to voluntary applications by airport operators. The program was part of the Aeronautics Branch’s efforts to encourage airport development through promotional activites, disseminating technical and statistical information, and giving expert advice to municipalities.
19460215: The Lockheed L-049 Constellation went into U.S. domestic passenger service. Designed for a three-man crew, the Constellation had a separate panel and side-facing seat for a flight engineer. (See July 10, 1945 and February 21, 1947.)
19730215: The United States and Cuba signed an anti-hijacking agreement calling for the two nations to extradite or punish any person “who seizes, removes, appropriates or diverts from its normal route or activities an aircraft or vessel” of one country and takes it to the other. The pact was to run for five years, but Cuba abrogated it on October 15, 1976, on grounds of alleged American involvement in the explosion of a Cuban airliner. (See October 29, 1972.)
19730215: FAA announced that production had been completed on all 64 of the new computerized automated radar terminal systems (ARTS III), marking an important milestone in the agency’s air traffic control automation program. (See February 13, 1973 and August 13, 1975.) The ARTS III system electronically tagged radar blips on the controller’s scope with luminous letters and numbers called alphanumerics that provided the target aircraft’s identiry and altitude.
19760215: FAA transferred the personnel and functions of its office at Beirut, Lebanon, to the office at Frankfurt, Germany, because of the continuation of the civil war that began in late 1975. The Beirut office had consisted basically of three inspectors who made sure that U.S.-registered aircraft operating in the Mediterranean and Middle East were airworthy and complied with Federal regulations (see June 30, 1965). An office later established at Rome, Italy, took over these functions.
19800215: FAA announced improved standards for the seats of airline crew members. The new rule required the flight attendant seats to be equipped with combination seat belts and safety harnesses, and that the seats themselves have energy-absorbing backs. The rule also required the seats of the cockpit crew to be equipped with a combination seat belt and shoulder harness so designed that the harness need not be unbuckled during takeoff or landing. The standards for flight attendant seats were effective on March 6, 1980, and those for the cockpit crew, a year later. The rule also upgraded certain other safety standards for large passenger aircraft concerning storage and service compartments, waste containers, and non-slip floors. (See September 10, 1980.)
19800215: Signed into law on this date, the International Air Transportation Competition Act of 1979 reduced the Civil Aeronautics Board’s power to regulate U.S. international airlines, while authorizing the Board to retaliate against the airlines of nations that discriminated against U.S. carriers. Other provisions: revised the rules governing Federal use of foreign air carriers; and defined circumstances under which foreign-registered aircraft might operate on U.S. domestic routes. As a result of the law, an FAA rule effective October 16 permitted U.S. airlines to fly passengers and mail in foreign-registered aircraft. The airlines were allowed to use such leased or chartered aircraft on both foreign and domestic flights.
Section 29 of the law limited scheduled airline operations at Love Field, Dallas, Tex., to aircraft seating 56 passengers or less, except for service within Texas and states bordering on Texas. This provision was known as the “Wright Amendment” after Rep. James C. Wright, Jr. (D-Tex.) of Fort Worth.
19950215: Commissioning of the final Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) capped FAA’s flight service modernization plan. On this date, all AFSSs also had the Model 1 Full Capacity system. By fiscal 1995’s end, 286 flight service stations had been consolidated into 61 AFSSs, 31 auxiliary stations, and one remaining conventional station. (See November 8, 1991.)
19970215: President Clinton used his powers under the Railway Labor Act to stop a strike by American Airlines pilots a few minutes after it began. An emergency board was established to try to find an acceptable compromise during a 60 day cooling?off period. March 19, American and the Allied Pilots Association stated they had reached a tentative agreement on a new contract. April 4, the union’s board voted in favor of the contract, which included higher pay than previously offered. May 5, union members voted to approve the new five-year contract.
20070215: Effective this date, FAA established regulations governing the design, operation, and maintenance of certain airplanes that flew long-range, regularly scheduled commercial routes over remote areas. The rule changed the current limitations and opened routes for twin-engine passenger and cargo planes. It also set uniformly high standards for all commercial passenger planes flying routes more than three hours from an airport. The final rule codified FAA policy, industry best practices and recommendations, as well as international standards designed to ensure safety on long-range flights. To ease the transition for current operators, this rule delayed the compliance dates pertaining to certain requirements applicable to Extended Range Operation with Two-engine Airplanes, or ETOPS. (See November 10, 2003.)
20080215: In an effort to streamline the job application process for air traffic controllers, FAA announced establishment of consolidated screening and testing centers to provide one stop shopping for prospective new employees. The first center was set up at the regional FAA office in New York in January 2009. (See March 7, 2007; September 9, 2008.)
20120215: FAA contract controllers began controlling aircraft from the Punta Gorda (FL) Airport’s first air traffic control tower. A grant from the Florida Department of Transportation and the Charlotte County Airport Authority funded the $4 million tower.
20150215: FAA proposed a framework of regulations that would allow routine use of certain small UAS in the national airspace system while maintaining flexibility to accommodate future technological innovations. The proposal covered safety rules for small UAS (under 55 pounds) conducting non-recreational operations. The rule would limit flights to daylight and visual-line-of-sight operations. It also addressed height restrictions, operator certification, optional use of a visual observer, aircraft registration and marking, and operational limits. The proposed rule included extensive discussion of the possibility of an additional, more flexible framework for “micro” UAS under 4.4 pounds. FAA asked the public to comment on this possible classification to determine whether it should include the option as part of a final rule. FAA also asked for comment about how the agency could further leverage the UAS test site program and an upcoming UAS Center of Excellence to further spur innovation at “innovation zones.” (See December 10, 2014; April 10, 2015; May 19, 2017.)