This Day in FAA History: March 24th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19360324: At a meeting before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee to ask for supplemental funds, Director of Air Commerce Eugene L. Vidal, convinced the committee of the necessity for the Federal Government to take over Air Traffic Control. Vidal succeeded in ultimately obtaining $175,000 for the takeover of three existing control centers early in fiscal 1937. (See July 6, 1936).
19600324: The Federal Aviation Agency established a new Bureau of Aviation Medicine to replace the former Office of the Civil Air Surgeon. The elevation to bureau status pointed to the growing significance of the role of the medical program in the agency’s primary mission of air safety. During the following three months, work began on a series of new aeromedical research projects concerned with the effects of aging on pilot proficiency, selection criteria for and environmental stress factors experienced by air traffic controllers, and in-flight fatigue affecting flight engineers on jet aircraft.
19670324: New parachute jumping rules effective this date required pilots of aircraft used for jumps in controlled airspace: to have two-way voice radio communication equipment; to establish communications with air traffic control at least 5 minutes before jumps began; to monitor FAA radio channels during the jump; and to advise air traffic control when the jump was completed. The minimum time for notifying FAA of planned jumps in controlled airspace was reduced from six hours to one hour. (See December 4, 1964, and August 7, 1968.)
19690324: John H. Shaffer became the fourth FAA Administrator, succeeding William F. McKee (see July 1, 1965). President Nixon had nominated Shaffer on March 6 and the Senate confirmed the nomination on March 20.
Born in Everett, Pa., in 1919, Shaffer earned his wings while still at West Point. Graduating in January 1943, at the height of World War II, he went on to fly 46 combat missions as a B-26 pilot with the 9th Air Forces in Europe. In 1946, while still in uniform, he earned an M.S. degree from Columbia University. This was followed by successive assignments as production project officer of the Army Air Forces B-50 program (1946-48) and weapons system program manager of the Air Force’s B-47 program (1948-54). In January 1954, he resigned his Air Force commission with the rank of lieutenant colonel to become general production manager and assistant plant manager of the Ford Motor Company’s Mercury assembly plant in Metuchen, N.J. Three years later, he joined TRW, Inc., an aerospace conglomerate. Shaffer resigned his position as corporate vice president (customer requirements) of TRW to become FAA Administrator, a post which he held for nearly four years. He resigned, as part of a broad Nixon Administration reorganization, effective March 14, 1973 (see that date).
After leaving FAA, Shaffer remained active in aviation as a consultant and served as a board member of several companies. He died on September 14, 1997.
19700324: FAA announced a program to improve the appearance of the nation’s airports by removing derelict aircraft. FAA field personnel would perform periodic checks and bring such aircraft to the attention of airport management. The agency urged airport operators to include in their contracts with aircraft owners and operators of aviation activities provisions for the removal of such aircraft at owner’s expense. FAA and the fixed-base operators concluded such an arrangement at Washington National and Dulles International Airports.
19710324: The Senate in effect terminated the U.S. civil supersonic transport (SST) program when it voted against the appropriation of $289 million to continue SST prototype development. The House of Representatives had voted down the SST appropriation on March 18, 1971. Later, in May 1971, pro-SST forces in the House seeking to revive the program succeeded by a vote of 201-197 in amending a Department of Transportation supplemental appropriations bill to include $85.3 million for SST development; however, the Senate struck out the amendment by a vote of 58-37. (See December 3, 1970, and October 12, 1971.)
20040324: Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced a series of steps aimed at reducing potential gridlock and delays during the up-coming peak travel periods of spring and summer. The steps included the creation of new air traffic express lanes, within many of the nation’s most heavily congested routes. The measures were developed earlier in the month at a three-day conference called “Growth without Gridlock.” Hosted by FAA, the conference brought together more than 60 participants from major and regional airlines, business aviation, pilot organizations, and industry associations to develop a common strategy to reduce system delays.
20060324: FAA announced that, within a year, use of the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) would be extended to 200 feet above an airport’s surface. WAAS, a satellite-based navigation system, was designed to improve the accuracy, availability and integrity of signals from global positioning system (GPS) satellites. WAAS was expected, eventually, to enable the agency to remove a portion of its existing ground-based navigation infrastructure, and thus reduce operational costs, while still improving capacity and safety. Originally commissioned in July 2003, WAAS was initially approved to provide vertical guidance down to 350 feet. Localizer performance with vertical guidance procedures down to 250 feet was later developed to take advantage of the increased performance provided by WAAS. (See July 11, 2003; October 19, 2007.)
20200324: The global COVID-19 pandemic led to flight reductions throughout the airline industry. As a result, FAA issued CertAlert #20-02 Temporary Parking of Overflow Aircraft (PDF), for airport operators who were working with airlines on temporary parking plans for their aircraft. The CertAlert contained a list of recommendations an airport operator should consider when making decisions for overflow aircraft parking. On May 5, FAA issued additional information and examples for airport operators to use when producing NOTAMs that closed runways and/or taxiways to temporarily park aircraft.