This Day in FAA History: March 15th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19460315: CAA announced the selection of Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma City, Okla., for the location of its new aeronautical center for training and maintenance. The agency immdiately relocated the Standardization Center (Houston), the general aircraft maintenance base for the Midwest, and the Signals Division School, and planned eventually to move all Federal airways schools and similar Agency activities to this central location. Oklahoma City had agreed to build an administration building and two new hangars for CAA’s use.
19470315: CAA established, “in the interest of safety in air commerce,” airport traffic control zones having radii of three or five miles. In addition to cancellations of airport approach zones, the Agency redesignated a large number of civil airways.
19550315: CAA commissioned the first of 15 very high frequency omnidirectional radio ranges (VORs) planned for Southeast and South Asia at Manila International Airport. Additional VORs programmed by CAA along routes followed by U.S.-flag carriers included 3 ranges for Formosa, 1 in Bangkok, and 10 for India.
19600315: FAA’s “age-60 rule” went into effect, barring individuals who reached their 60th birthday from serving as a pilot on aircraft engaged in certificated route air carrier operations or on large aircraft engaged in supplemental air carrier operations. The rule did not apply to commuter or on-demand air taxi operations, which employed smaller aircraft. In adopting the rule, FAA declared that a progressive deterioration of certain physiological functions normally occurs with age and that sudden incapacity due to certain medical defects such as heart attack and strokes becomes significantly more frequent in any group reaching age 60. The agency therefore imposed the age-60 rule until science provided better tests to determine individual pilots’ susceptibility to these problems.
The Air Line Pilots Association sought an injunction against the new rule on the grounds that it was arbitrary and discriminatory. The courts found the rule reasonable, however, and this view was upheld by the Supreme Court in June 1961. (See June 21, 1968.)
19710315: FAA adopted a marking and lighting standard for identifying transmission lines and their support structures that could constitute a potential hazard to air navigation. The standard called for three sequentially flashing white lights of high intensity to be installed on transmission line support structures. Each light would flash 60 times per minute. These lights replaced unlighted spherical markers on transmission lines, which provided little or no help to pilots at night or in bad weather.
19780315: A three-year labor-management agreement between PATCO and FAA went into effect. Since the controllers’ pay had recently been adjusted in their favor by the Civil Service Commission (see November 12, 1976), the agreement dealt primarily with working conditions. The contract contained 75 articles, including provisions for overtime pay. In addition, FAA agreed to pay controllers’ salaries while on foreign as well as domestic familiarization flights. Previously, only controllers who handled international flights were eligible for overseas familiarization trips. In the past airlines had always provided free familiarization flights for eligible controllers, but now the principal overseas air carriers balked at the prospect of providing cockpit space on international flights for all air traffic controllers at the GS-10 or higher level. Even domestic familiarization flights were difficult to arrange in 1978 because of the airlines’ own active training programs. (See May 25, 1978.)
19810315: The labor contract between FAA and PATCO expired. In accordance with Article 75 of the agreement, however, all its provisions but one (immunity under the aviation safety reporting program) remained in force until a new agreement was reached. (See December 15, 1980, and April 28, 1981.)
19820315: The Safety Regulations Staff in FAA’s Office of the Associate Administrator for Aviation Standards was abolished and its functions were transferred to a new Safety Regulations Division established in the Office of Aviation Safety.
19860315: FAA Administrator Engen and the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration Director signed a U.S.-Chinese agreement on cooperation in civil aviation. The agreement covered a wide range of activities including the exchange of scientific and technical information and personnel, cooperation in research and development, and the provision of training and other technical assistance. (See May 5, 1985, and March 31, 1995.)
19990315: FAA announced it had issued a launch license to a Boeing-led international consortium to conduct a first-of-its-kind demonstration space launch, targeted for March 2, from a sea-going platform in the mid-Pacific. The 40 percent Boeing-owned partnership would use a Ukrainian-built Zenit booster rocket and a Russian-built upper stage in the demonstration. The launch platform, a converted self-propelled oil drilling platform, would be accompanied to the launch site by an assembly and command ship designed and built by Kvaerner Maritime of Norway, another partner in the undertaking. (See September 24, 1998; April 21, 1999.)
20070315: Effective this date, FAA implemented a final rule setting safety and oversight rules for a broad variety of sightseeing and commercial air tour flights. The rule standardized requirements for air tour operators and consolidated air tour safety standards. It required operators, including some who were not previously covered, to meet the safety requirements in the expanded national air tour safety standards of the federal aviation regulations. These provision included requirements for enhanced passenger briefings before takeoff, life preservers and helicopter floats for certain over water operations, and the submission of helicopter performance plans. The rules also applied to the growing air tour industry offering tours of national parks. (See November 27, 2002.)
20170315: FAA extended the prohibition of flight operations in the Tripoli flight information region (FIR) by all U.S. air carriers; U.S. commercial operators; persons exercising the privileges of a U.S. airman certificate, except when such persons operated a U.S.-registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier; and operators of U.S.-registered civil aircraft, except when such operators were foreign air carriers. FAA found the action necessary because of the continued hazards to persons and aircraft engaged in such flight operations. The prohibition, which was scheduled to remain in effect until March 20, 2017, would now remain in effect until March 20, 2019. (See March 20, 2015.)