This Day in FAA History: February 18th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19660218: The National Committee for Clear Air Turbulence was established to determine operational needs for the detection and prediction of this hazard, known as CAT. Formed at the instigation of the Defense Department, the committee was composed of representatives from the National Science Foundation and seven Federal agencies, including FAA. In a December 1966 report, the committee called for a coordinated national effort to understand and remedy the CAT problem. The report’s recommendations included a national data collection project to gather information needed to achieve CAT detection and forecasting. On March 29, 1967, the CAT hazard was illustrated by the death of an unbelted passenger when a United Airlines jet reportedly plunged 8,000 feet after encountering turbulence. Subsequent FAA actions regarding CAT included participation in joint research on forecasting methods.
19700218: FAA’s first IBM 9020 computer and its associated software program became operational at the Los Angeles ARTCC (see June 30, 1967). The new computer system was at the heart of the new semiautomated airway air traffic control system–NAS En Route Stage A. This equipment reduced controller workload by automatically handling incoming flight information messages, performing necessary calculations, and distributing flight data strips, as needed, to controller positions. The agency planned to install similar equipment at all of the centers, and with the new automated nationwide system each center would have the capability to collect and distribute information about each aircraft’s course and altitude to all the sector controllers along its flight path. The new computers also had the ability to record and distribute any changes registered in aircraft flight plans en route. (See December 30, 1968, and February 13, 1973.)
19700218: A commuter airlines terminal officially opened at Washington National Airport to facilitate the operations of the 13 commuter airlines serving the airport.
19700218: PATCO filed a petition with the Federal Labor Relations Council for certification as exclusive bargaining representative for all non-supervisory air traffic control specialists. (See October 27, 1969, and March 25-April 10, 1970.)
19800218: President Carter signed the Aviation Safety and Noise Abatement Act of 1979. The law gave airlines more time to comply with Stage 2 aircraft noise standards insofar as they applied to two-engine jets over 75,000 lb (see December 23, 1976, and March 3, 1977). These two-engine aircraft had been required to comply by January 1, 1983, but that deadline was extended, with exceptions: until January 1, 1985, for those with over 100 seats; and until January 1, 1988, for those with 100 seats or fewer (see December 31, 1987). In other matters, the new legislation authorized funds for noise planning and land use compatibility projects (see February 28, 1981) and, in certain circumstances, barred suits for damages due to airport noise.
The act also authorized the FAA to regulate the access to public areas at Washington National and Dulles International by individuals or groups soliciting funds or distributing materials. The law prohibited solicitors, including those representing religious groups, from interfering with airport users or using threatening or abusive language. FAA adopted rules, effective July 28, requiring solicitors at the two airports to have permits and placing certain limits on their number and the areas in which they could operate (see June 26, 1992).
19820218: A special rule issued this date amended the Interim Operations Plan for air traffic control (see August 3, 1981). The new rule provided procedures to be used April 25-October 30 in scheduling and in allocating airport landing reservations (“slots”) at the 22 airports at which operations were limited due to the PATCO strike. New entrants were more clearly defined, and a system initiated that accorded such carriers high priority in awarding such additional capacity as became available. A random draw was implemented for determining the order in which carriers’ requests for more slots were processed. (See March 6, 1984.)
19910218: FAA announced plans to build a new terminal radar control (TRACON) facility at Elgin, Ill., to handle air traffic in the Chicago metropolitan area. Construction began during fiscal year 1993, and the facility was dedicated on November 10, 1996.
19970218: The Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) became the last of 21 centers to implement the Voice Switching and Control System (VSCS). May 21, the FAA formally dedicated this installation. (See June 30, 1995.)