This Day in FAA History: March 19th

19700319: FAA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking asking public comment on whether smoking should be allowed aboard passenger-carrying aircraft. This action resulted from two petitions filed with FAA in December 1969. One petition requested a ban on smoking on all flights, while the other requested that domestic air carriers effectively segregate smokers from other passengers. FAA believed the petitions warranted an in-depth study to determine to what extent tobacco smoke was harmful to nonsmokers. The agency’s existing rules prohibited smoking only during takeoff and landing. (See May 10, 1973.)
19850319: The appointment of Charles E. Weithoner as the first Associate Administrator for Human Resource Management became effective. Weithoner had served in the post on an acting basis since the previous October. On September 4, 1985, an FAA directive formally created the position and placed four offices under its control: Human Resource Planning and Evaluation; Labor and Employee Relations; Organizational Effectiveness; and Personnel and Technical Training. At the same time, FAA abolished the former Office of Labor Relations and Office of Personnel and Training, and assigned their functions to offices under the new Associate Administrator. This structural change was part of a program of increased emphasis upon human relations (see July 1984.)
19970319: FAA published a rulemaking proposal to update and clarify regulations regarding the licensing of commercial space launches. (See November 15, 1995; May 22, 1997.)
20010319: FAA announced that U.S. airlines had complied with the deadline to retrofit commercial airplanes with both fire detection and suppression systems. Most wide-body passenger airplanes already had fire detection and suppression systems in inaccessible cargo compartments. FAA’s February 1998, final rule required that the remainder of the passenger fleet be retrofitted within three years. In addition, approximately 300 all-cargo airplanes were required to have detection systems and means to shut off airflow to the cargo compartment. (See February 12, 1998.)
20140319: FAA released the findings of a review team formed in January 2013 to review the Boeing 787’s design, manufacture, and assembly processes. The joint team of FAA and Boeing technical experts found the aircraft soundly designed, met its intended safety level, and the manufacturer and FAA had effective processes in place to identify and correct issues that emerged before and after certification. The team identified issues in the manufacturing and supplier quality areas and made four recommendations to Boeing, including the need to: continue to implement and mature gated design and production processes; ensure suppliers were fully aware of their responsibilities; establish a way to ensure suppliers identified realistic program risks; and required its suppliers to follow industry standards for personnel performing Boeing-required inspections. The team made parallel recommendations to FAA for improved, risk-based FAA oversight to account for new business models. The team recommended FAA should: revise its order on certificate management of manufacturers to recognize new aircraft manufacturing business models; revise its order on production approval procedures to more fully address complex, large-scale manufacturers with extended supply chains; and revise other orders to ensure engineering conformity inspections for all projects are based on risk. Based on the team’s recommendations, FAA planned to revise its policies, orders, and procedures: to use risk tools to ensure manufacturing surveillance was conducted at the highest risk facilities; to assess risks related to emerging technologies, complex manufacturing processes, and supply chain management; and to make engineering conformity determinations using standardized, risk-based criteria. (See November 27, 2013; May 28, 2014.)