This Day in FAA History: March 22nd

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19270322: The first general amendments to the Air Commerce Regulations took effect (see December 31, 1926). Among the many mandated changes were the addition of a limited commercial pilot license classification to the existing categories of transport, industrial, and private. The new category permitted pilots to carry passengers within a ten mile radius of their base while building up flight time for a transport license.
The amendments altered the original system under which the identification numbers for licensed aircraft would be preceded by the letter “C” (commercial), “S” (state), or “P” (private). The “P” designation was now dropped and “X” (experimental) was added. The regulations also required the identification number of an aircraft engaged in foreign air commerce be preceded by the letter “N” (denoting U.S. registry in accordance with a 1919 international convention). The “N” was optional at this time for other licensed aircraft. Later, the identification numbers of all U.S. licensed aircraft began with “N”, followed by numbers and/or letters under systems that varied as the registration process evolved.
19830322: In congressional testimony, Administrator Helms outlined a new approach to facility consolidation which was to be reflected in a revised National Airspace System (NAS) Plan published the following month. The original plan had called for a reduction in the number of Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCCs) in the continental U.S. from 20 to 16. It had also envisioned the consolidation of the 188 existing TRACON (terminal radar approach control) and TRACAB (terminal radar approach control in the tower cab) facilities. These 188 facilities were to have been consolidated into about 30 regional or hub TRACONs. In the revised plan, all 20 ARTCCs would be retained, redesignated Area Control Facilities (ACFs), and given the added responsibility of providing terminal radar services for virtually the entire nation (see April 19, 1993). Individual airport towers would continue to direct takeoffs and landings, but TRACONs and TRACABs would be consolidated into the ACFs. The existing ARTCC sites would be augmented as necessary to perform their new responsibilities as ACFs. Three additional ACFs (one in Alaska, one in Hawaii, and one in the continental U.S.) would bring the total number of these sites to 23. Evolution of the ACF concept was dependent upon the development and acquisition of such air traffic control technology as the advanced automation system (see July 26, 1985) and the voice switching and control system (October 21, 1986).
19890322: Fire consumed one of the mobile lounges used at Dulles International Airport to transport passengers from the terminal to aircraft, injuring two passengers. The day before the fire, a ramp worker at Dulles had been crushed to death under the wheels of a lounge. As a result of the accidents, airport officials on March 23 ordered maintenance inspections on all mobile lounges and retraining courses for all lounge drivers.
19920322: A USAir Fokker F-28 4000 jet crashed at New York’s La Guardia Airport while taking off during a snowstorm, killing 27 of the 51 persons aboard. In a 1993 report, the National Transportation Safety Board cited the probable cause as: failure of the airline industry and FAA to provide flight crews with procedures and requirements compatible with departure delays in conditions conducive to icing; and the flight crew’s decision to take off without positive assurance that the airplane’s wings were ice-free after 35 minutes exposure to precipitation following deicing. (See November 15, 1987, and May 28, 1992.)
20110322: Effective this date, FAA required all certificate holders conducting operations under Part 135 to include in their training programs crew resource management training for crewmembers, including pilots and flight attendants.
20130322: FAA announced 149 federal contract towers would close beginning on April 7 as part of the agency’s sequestration implementation plan. The agency made the decision to keep 24 federal contract towers open it had previously proposed for closure because of national interest considerations. An additional 16 federal contract towers under the “cost share” program would remain open because congressional statute set aside funds every fiscal year for those towers. FAA planned to begin a four-week phased closure of the 149 federal contract towers beginning on April 7. (See February 22, 2013; April 5, 2013.)
20180322: FAA published an emergency order regarding “doors off” and “open-door” operations. The agency issued the order to all operators and pilots of flights for compensation or hire with the doors opened or removed or using aircraft registered in the United States for doors off flights. It prohibited the use of supplemental passenger restraint systems that could not be released quickly in an emergency in doors off flight operations. The order also prohibited passenger-carrying doors off flight operations unless the passengers were at all times properly secured using FAA approved restraints.