This Day in FAA History: February 20th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19310220: The Senate ratified the Havana Convention in which 21 Western Hemisphere nations guaranteed the right of innocent passage of aircraft without discrimination. The Convention formulated the rules for international air navigation between the contracting states relating to the marking of aircraft, landing facilities, prohibited transport, competency of airmen, and the right of each country to prescribe the route to be flown over its territory. The Convention had been prepared at the Pan American Convention on Civil Aviation at Havana, Cuba, in February 1928.
19520220: President Truman established a temporary Airport Commission under the chairmanship of James H. Doolittle, with CAA Administrator C. F. Horne and J. C. Hunsaker of NACA as members. The action responded to a series of crashes, due to varied causes, in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area. These events had raised residents’ fears and prompted authorities to close Newark Airport temporarily
* On December 16, 1951, a Miami Airlines C-46 crashed in Elizabeth, N.J., shortly after takeoff from Newark, killing all 56 people on board.
* On January 14, 1952, a Northeast Airlines Convair 240 approaching La Guardia Airport crashed into Flushing Bay with no fatalities.
* On January 22, 1952, an American Airlines Convair 240 crashed in Elizabeth, killing seven people on the ground and all 23 in the airplane.
* On February 10, 1952, a National Airlines DC-6 crashed in Elizabeth after taking off from Newark, killing four people on the ground and 29 of the 63 persons on the airplane.
Truman asked the Commission to restudy the nation’s policy on airport location and use, considering the well-being of people living near airports, as well as national defense requirements and the economic importance of a progressive and efficient aviation industry. The Commission was also instructed to take into account: (1) the Federal, State, and local investment in existing civil and military airports and the factors affecting the utility of airports to adjacent communities; (2) governmental actions to lessen hazards surrounding existing civil and military airports; (3) assignment of newly activated military units to existing airports, with particular regard for potential hazards to the communities involved; (4) site selection for new civil and military airports and the factors affecting relocation of existing airports; (5) joint civil/military use of airports; and (6) legislation and appropriations necessary to carrying out appropriate policy. (See May 16, 1952.)
19560220: CAA and the Air Force announced a joint study under Air Navigation Development Board auspices to evaluate the use of Air Defense Command (ADC) radar for civil air traffic control purposes. The evaluation included use of a microwave link to remote radar information between an ADC installation at Rockville, Ind., and the CAA ARTCC at Indianapolis, a distance of some 50 miles. This was the first use of a microwave link to transfer radar information between distant points for air traffic control. (See November 16, 1956.)
19690220: Theodore C. Uebel, an FAA International Liaison Officer, received the first International Aviation Service Award. The award, which recognized singular achievements in advancing the cause of international aviation, was financed by private donations from FAA employees.
19860220: Transportation Secretary Dole announced a comprehensive review of domestic airport security to be coordinated by her Safety Review Task Force (see August 16, 1985). The Task Force submitted its initial recommendations in August 1986, and FAA responded with a range of actions to improve security training and planning, and to tighten access to secure areas.
19960220: FAA began a 120-day special emphasis safety review of ValuJet Airlines, an innovative low-cost carrier that had grown rapidly since its certification on October 21, 1993. Factors prompting the review included a series of incidents and nonfatal accidents. (See May 11, 1996.)
20140220: FAA issued a final rule requiring helicopter operators, including air ambulances, to have stricter flight rules and procedures, improved communications, training, and additional on-board safety equipment. Under the new rule, all Part 135 helicopter operators were required to
* Equip their helicopters with radio altimeters.
* Have occupants wear life preservers.
* Equip helicopters with a 406 MHz Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) when a helicopter is operated beyond power-off glide distance from the shore.
* Use higher weather minimums when identifying an alternate airport in a flight plan.
* Require pilots be tested to handle flat-light, whiteout, and brownout conditions and demonstrate competency in recovery from an inadvertent encounter with instrument meteorological conditions.
In addition, all air ambulance operators were required to:
* Equip with Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems (HTAWS).
* Equip with a flight data monitoring system within four years.
* Establish operations control centers if they are certificate holders with 10 or more helicopter air ambulances.
* Institute pre-flight risk-analysis programs.
* Ensure their pilots-in-command hold an instrument rating.
* Ensure pilots identify and document the highest obstacle along the planned route before departure.
* Comply with Visual Flight Rules (VFR) weather minimums, Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations at airports/heliports without weather reporting, procedures for VFR approaches, and VFR flight planning.
* Conduct the flight using Part 135 weather requirements and flight crew time limitation and rest requirements when medical personnel are on board.
* Conduct safety briefings or training for medical personnel.
The rule was to be effective on April 22, 2014. On April 17, 2014, FAA extended the deadline to April 22, 2015, after the agency determined the rule’s original effective date did not provide adequate time for affected certificate holders to implement the new requirements. (See October 12, 2010.)