This Day in FAA History: February 28th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19270228: Domestic Air News published a list of 57 physicians qualified to give medical examinations for pilot licenses. Scattered over the United States, these physicians (soon to be known as aviation medical examiners) had been selected and qualified by Aeronautics Branch Medical Director Louis H. Bauer. By October 1, 1927, the number of qualified physicians had grown to 188, and additional appointees were added from time to time. Besides these civilian medical examiners, all Army and Navy flight surgeons were qualified ex officio to give airman medical examinations. (See June 1, 1945.)
19290228: The Air Commerce Act was amended to provide for Federal licensing of flying schools. Instructors were divided into two classes, flying and ground, each of which was rated separately. Regulations were promulgated in April and went into effect in June 1929.
19370228: Eugene L. Vidal announced his resignation as Director of Air Commerce. He was succeeded the following day by Fred D. Fagg, Jr. Fagg came to the Bureau of Air Commerce as an authority on aviation law. In 1929 he had founded the Air Law Institute at Northwestern University, and since then he had been its director in addition to editing or helping to edit its publication, the Journal of Air Law. Before his appointment as Director of Air Commerce, Fagg had served as consulting expert to the Department of Commerce on revision of the air commerce regulations, as an advisor to the Copeland Senate committee on aircraft safety, and as one of the advisers to the Federal Aviation Commission (see July 11, 1934). He was a member of the Illinois Aeronautics Commission, secretary of the National Association of State Aviation Officials, and a member of the American Section, International Technical Committee of Aerial Legal Experts. (See April 16, 1938.)
19460228: The Civil Aeronautics Board approved for one year, beginning on this date, the rate-setting machinery of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The approval was later extended.
19510228: A U.S.-Canadian memorandum of agreement concluded on this date simplified notification procedures for private and non-scheduled aircraft flights from Canada to the United States. The United States negotiated a similar agreement with Mexico in February 1952. Effective May 15, 1953, an expansion of the agreement with Canada made transborder flight notification service available to pilots flying in either direction across the border.
19530228: The American Medical Association authorized the American Board of Preventive Medicine to establish aviation medicine as a distinct specialty and to grant certification for those physicians properly qualified.
19570228: CAA began installation of the first “narrow band” radio receivers under a program designed to double the number of civil communications channels available for air traffic control use. The new receivers made it possible to space transmissions 100 rather than 200 kilocycles from the adjacent channel.
19620228: FAA received the Project Pipeline report, a study to improve and modernized FAA’s supply system. The final report, based on an extensive study of the supply systems of private industry and Federal agencies, established guidelines for subsequent improvements in FAA’s supply-materiel . A parallel project, titled the Harbridge House study (for the Boston management firm which produced it), was also undertaken and completed in the spring. The Harbridge study reviewed FAA’s materiel activities with respect to organization for management of the materiel function, training requirements for materiel programs, and problem areas in procurement. During fiscal year 1963, FAA formulated a comprehensive Materiel Systems Improvement Plan. According to the agency’s FY63 annual report, FAA began a two-year implementation process of that plan, streamlining business methods, increasing the use of electronic automatic data-processing equipment, and improving distribution and storage techniques.
19650228: FAA commissioned the first nonradar control tower to be constructed according to a standard design, adopted by FAA in 1962, at Lawton Municipal Airport, Lawton, Okla. This was also the first control tower of standard design to be built entirely with FAA funds. The nonradar towers were freestanding and featured a control cab placed atop a pentagonal supporting steel structure that housed five floors of operating space beneath the cab floor. (See December 14, 1964, and June 30, 1967.)
19660228: FAA completed a 10-month evaluation of SPAN (stored program alphanumerics) at the Indianapolis air route traffic control center. The agency subsequently dismantled and shipped this prototype ATC system to the New York ARTCC to help cope with the extremely high air traffic density in the New York area. (See May 24, 1965, and Spring 1968.)
19670228: The 40th anniversary of the designated aviation medical examiner (AME) program was celebrated by a special seminar jointly conducted by the FAA and the Aerospace Medical Association for designated AME’s from 37 foreign countries and U.S. possessions. (At the end of fiscal 1967, there were 5,961 AME’s.) (See February 28, 1927.)
19700228: FAA began a new training program for the air traffic and electronic technician occupations. The agency hoped that the project, termed the 150 Program because of the number of positions initially allotted to it, would work to broaden the recruitment base and equalize opportunities for minorities. Candidates began at the GS-4 level and, after successfully completing a six month training program at the Aeronautical Center, became GS-5s. The 150 Program was later renamed the Pre-development Program.
19810228: Effective this date, a new Part 150 of the Federal Aviation Regulations established requirements and procedures for airport operators participating in a voluntary noise compatibility planning program as authorized by the Aviation Safety and Noise Abatement Act (see February 18, 1980). The new regulations provided standardized methods for measuring noise, identified land uses compatible with various noise levels, and set forth criteria for FAA approval of the plans.
19860228: FAA completed acceptance testing for new Flight Data Input/Output (FDIO) equipment. FDIO, which provided a modernized method of transmitting and updating flight plan information, was delivered to 11 air route traffic control centers and their associated terminals during fiscal 1986. By the end of FY 1987, FAA had accepted delivery of FDIO equipment to all enroute and terminal control facilities; the first system became operational in December 1989.
19870228: General William F. McKee died in San Antonio, Tex. After serving as FAA’s third Administrator (see July 1, 1965), McKee had been a partner in a consulting firm before retiring.
19890228: FAA’s first operational Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) began service, and the agency had installed 50 more the end of September 1990. AWOS equipment automatically gathered weather data from various locations around an airport and transmitted that information directly to pilots by means of computer-generated voice message (see January 26, 1983). In cooperation with the National Weather Service, FAA also pursured a program to acquire Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) equipment, which offered additional percipitation sensing capabilities. The agency began ASOS installation in August 1991, and had commissioned over 60 by April 1996.
19940228: The National Weather Service commissioned the first Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) as part of a joint development program in which FAA was a participant (see June 8-14, 1983).
19950228: At Denver International Airport’s opening day, air traffic controllers at the state-of-the-art facility cleared three aircraft to make the world’s first triple simultaneous landing. By this date, FAA had provided Airport Improvement Program grants totaling $267.6 million for the project, and had committed over $200 million more in Letters of Intent. In a February 1996 report on the airport’s first 11 months in operation, FAA stated that the facility had achieved a flight delay rate five times less than the airport it replaced, Stapleton International. (See May 17, 1988.)
19970228: President Clinton signed legislation reinstating certain aviation taxes from March 6 through September 30. Included were the 10 percent airline ticket tax, 6.25 percent domestic air freight tax, an international departure tax of $6 per ticket, and excise charges on non-commercial aviation fuel. The law also gave the Treasury Department authority to transfer aviation tax revenue to the Aviation Trust Fund.
19970228: FAA released an independent 90-day assessment, as mandated by the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-264), to assess the scope of its financial needs through 2002. The assessment, performed by the Coopers & Lybrand consulting firm, concluded that the FAA had no system to account for its costs, and that FAA managers generally could not manage money properly. This assessment was similar to other studies that concluded that FAA needed to institute a fundamental change in the way it made decisions, and that those who funded the agency, as well as those who used its services, had to afford it greater flexibility in how it did business. In response, FAA stated that the report showed the need for reform to bridge the gap, over the next six years, between its projected responsibilities and its anticipated resources. (See September 30, 1996.)
20020228: The Department of Transportation Inspector General released an audit of FAA’s progress in acquiring the Weather and Radar Processor (WARP), which would provide meteorologists and air traffic controllers more accurate and reliable information to lessen the effects of bad weather. The IG found that FAA had experienced significant problems managing the development and deployment of WARP on controller displays – mostly because of human factors and technical problems. He also found the program’s current cost baseline was not realistic and the schedule was at risk. Since 1995, estimated program costs had increased from $227.8 million to $276.8 million. (See March 2002.)
20080228: President Bush signed into law legislation extending FAA authorization and the existing aviation excise taxes through June 30, 2008. The legislation, H.R.5270, also renewed FAA’s airports contract spending authority, which had expired at the end of 2007, freeing up Airport Improvement Program dollars. The president signed the legislation one day before the agency’s authorization was due to expire. (See February 14, 2007.)
20110228: FAA and NASA released a new plan focused on human factors research for NextGen. FAA and NASA developed the document titled, “NextGen Human Factors Research Coordination Plan,” in response to a 2010 report by the Government Accountability Office – along with previous recommendations from the inter-agency joint planning and development office (JPDO) and the Department of Transportation Inspector General – stating the need for a cross-agency, human factors plan that coordinated research efforts by the two agencies. (See February 3, 2011; September 23, 2011.)
20180228: The Brazilian Civil Aviation Agency, FAA, and the European Aviation Safety Agency certified the Embraer E190-E2.
20230228: The new $1.5 million terminal at Kansas City International Airport opened.