This Day in FAA History: February 24th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19860224: Financially troubled Eastern Air Lines tentatively accepted a buy-out offer by Texas Air. The board’s decision followed labor negotiations in which Eastern’s pilots agreed to make concessions but the union representing machinists and mechanics demanded replacement of chairman Frank Borman. Following the purchase agreement, Borman remained as Eastern’s head until his resignation in June. (See October 1, 1986.)
19920224: Andrew H. Card, Jr., took the oath as Secretary of Transportation (a public swearing-in ceremony was held on March 11). A former member of the Massachusetts legislature, the new Secretary had been deputy Chief of Staff under Bush and served the Reagan White House as deputy assistant to the President and director of the Intergovernmental Affairs Office. Card had been nominated on January 22 and confirmed by the Senate on February 21. He served for the remainder of the Bush Administration, resigning effective January 20, 1993.
19950224: FAA announced a strengthened campaign against the use of suspected unapproved parts (SUPs) in aviation. The agency had expanded its SUP program in recent years, but its efforts had been criticized by Department of Transportation Inspector General A. Mary Schiavo. On February 27, FAA published a notice warning of its policy to enforce full compliance with relevant regulations and giving non-complaint firms until May 30 to apply for approval to manufacture aviation parts. On May 24, the agency announced a plan for an industry-operated accreditation program for aircraft parts brokers and distributors. On October 12, FAA issued a task force report that proposed a SUP program plan and the establishment of a national Suspected Unapproved Parts Program Office. This office was established on November 13, and its creation was formally documented in a directive issued on January 2, 1996.
19960224: Cuban fighters shot down two U.S. civil aircraft off the coast of Cuba, killing all four persons aboard the two Cessna 337s, which were operated by a Cuban exile group. A third exile plane returned to the United States. On February 26, President Clinton took retaliatory measures that included the indefinite suspension of all charter flights between Cuba and the United States. FAA actions included a letter warning south Florida airmen of the dangers and penalties associated with violating Cuban airspace. In May, the agency also revoked the license of the pilot of the third exile plane, based on evidence that he had entered Cuban airspace on February 24 and on a previous occasion.
20000224: Effective this date, FAA added Pacific oceanic areas to the airspace where the principles of Reduced Vertical Separation Minima could be applied. Previously, RVSM was only used in North Atlantic minimum navigation performance specifications airspace. The introduction of RVSM procedures in Pacific oceanic airspace made more fuel- and time-efficient flight levels and tracks available to operators. (See April 9, 1997; December 10, 2001.)
20050224: FAA proposed a series of significant upgrades to aircraft “black boxes” that would increase the quality, quantity, and survivability of recorded data. The notice of proposed rulemaking would require installation of more rugged flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders designed to give accident investigators more information. The new rules – which would apply to air carriers, other operators, and aircraft manufacturers – would increase the duration of recordings, increase the data recording rate of certain digital parameters, and improve the reliability of the power supply. All data-link messages sent to an aircraft would have to be recorded, and operators would be required to retrofit all aircraft equipped with ten or more seats. (See August 18, 2003.)
20160224: FAA established the performance standards and requirements for micro unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) aviation rulemaking committee (ARC). The committee provided a forum for discussion and development of recommendations that would be submitted to FAA for consideration in developing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the classification and operation of micro UAS. The ARC was specifically tasked to consider recommendations for a performance-based standard that would allow for micro UAS to be operated over people who were not directly participating in the operation of the UAS or under a covered structure. (See December 21, 2015; March 10, 2016.)
20210224: FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) requiring U.S. operators of airplanes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines to inspect those engines before further flight. FAA took action as the result of a fan-blade failure that occurred February 20 on a Boeing 777-200 that had departed from Denver International Airport. Although the aircraft landed safely, the failure resulted in damage to the engine, an in-flight engine fire, and damage to the airplane. After reviewing the available data and considering other safety factors, FAA determined operators must conduct a thermal acoustic image (TAI) inspection of the large titanium fan blades located at the front of each engine. TAI technology could detect cracks on the interior surfaces of the hollow fan blades, or in areas that could not be seen during a visual inspection.