This Day in FAA History: March 16th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19600316: New requirements regarding instrument flying skills became effective. Persons receiving a commercial pilot certificate were required to have a minimum of 10 hours of instrument flight instruction and to demonstrate their ability to control their aircraft manually while relying solely on instrument guidance. Successful applicants for private pilot certificates were required to have dual instruction in the basic control of the aircraft by the use of instruments, and to demonstrate their manual capability in attitude control in simulated emergencies involving the loss of visual reference during flight. The added requirements applied only to new applicants, not holders of existing certificates.
19620316: Effective this date, FAA abolished the Office of Plans, and transferred its personnel to other FAA components (see January 15, 1959 and August 28, 1967).
19640316: A manpower study conducted by FAA revealed an approaching shortage of aircraft maintenance personnel. The survey, “Report of 1962 Survey of Maintenance Airmen,” revealed that only 3 percent of the total aviation mechanic work force was between 18 and 24 years of age, and relatively few members of this age group were entering the aviation mechanic career field. The survey found that many aviation mechanics were discovering lucrative job opportunities in the missile and space fields. (See September 30, 1964, and March 17, 1965.)
19660316: Gemini VIII, a U.S. manned space flight, achieved the first space docking.
19680316: Under a rule effective this date, FAA prohibited VFR (visual flight rules) operations at or above 10,000 feet above mean sea level unless a pilot enjoyed a minimum visibility of five miles while remaining at least 1,000 feet vertically and one mile horizontally from cloud formations.
19770316: The All-Weather Operations Panel of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recommended to ICAO’s Air Navigation Commission the adoption of the U.S.-Australian Time Reference Scanning Beam (TRSB) technique as the world standard for a microwave landing system (MLS). The vote was six for the U.S-sponsored system and one for the British Doppler system, with three abstentions (Britain, France, and West Germany). Britain protested the decision as biased and technically flawed, and hence the debate about MLS continued pending a final decision in 1978 by the full All-Weather Operations Division of ICAO. (See June 1976, and April 19, 1978.)
19780316: In a regulation effective on this date, FAA permitted temporary operation of an aircraft without the required emergency locator transmitter (ELT). The rule responded to an amendment to the legislation that had mandated ELT use on most civil aircraft (see December 29, 1970). Because the equipment frequently malfunctioned, emitting false signals and causing other problems, Congress changed the law to permit operation of an aircraft for up to 90 days while its ELT was being inspected, modified, repaired, or replaced. (See March 28, 1979.)
19790316: FAA Administrator Bond announced his plan to eliminate the “blanket immunity” provisions of the Aviation Safety Reporting Program (ASRP) while continuing to provide anonymity to those using the program to report hazards and safety-related incidents (see April 15, 1976). The Administrator said he wished to close “the loophole that makes it possible for a violator to escape punishment even if the offense is committed in full public view.” On March 21, Bond issued a notice that the change would take effect on April 30. Before the effective date, however, a sharp reaction in the aviation community produced a compromise under which modified immunity provisions became effective July 1. Reports of hazards or incidents submitted under the ASRP could not be used in any disciplinary action except in cases of accidents or criminal offenses. When FAA learned of a violation of safety regulations from another source, it would take appropriate enforcement action. If the violator had filed a prompt report with NASA, however, FAA would impose no penalty provided the violation was inadvertent and not deliberate, did not involve an accident or criminal offense, or disclose a lack of competency, and the person had committed no prior violation since the initiation of the ASRP. A later modification, effective March 1, 1985, applied the no-prior-violation requirement to only the five years before a reported incident. These provisions did not apply to air traffic controllers involved in incidents reported to NASA, whose cases were governed by internal FAA regulations. An important difference between the new system and the old was that immunity now applied only to the reporter rather than to all those involved in an incident.
19880316: Effective this date, FAA included free-standing heliports in regulations on airport noise compatibility planning that had previously applied only to heliports on public airports used by fixed-wing aircraft. When their plans were approved, the free-standing heliports would be eligible to apply for benefits under the Airport Improvement Program.