This Day in FAA History: March 26th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19300326: The Aeronautics Branch issued the first two approved repair station certificates to Boeing Air Transport of Oakland, Calif., and National Air Transport of Chicago, Ill. The certificate entitled a station to repair only aircraft of types for which it was adequately equipped. Previously, anyone making repairs on licensed aircraft had been obliged to submit to the Branch detailed drawings of the repairs made and, in some cases, a stress analysis. By mid-1931, the Aeronautics Branch had certificated forty-eight repair stations.
19340326: Senator Pat McCarran (D-Nev.), a member of the Black Committee (see February 9, 1934), introduced a Senate bill (S. 3187) as a substitute for the bill that was to become the Air Mail Act of 1934 (see June 12, 1934). McCarran’s bill, defeated in the Senate, provided for the creation of a “Federal Aviation Commission” to carry out the economic regulation of scheduled air carrier operations. The bill had no provision to repeal any existing laws and none relating to air safety. (See January 21, 1935.) This was the first of a series of bills Senator McCarran was to introduce to create an independent aviation regulatory agency. His efforts, along with those of Representative Clarence Lea (D-Calif.) in the House (see January 31, 1935) and others, finally bore fruit in the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938.
19850326: A directive issued on this date established a new Office of Program and Regulations Management under the Associate Administrator for Aviation Standards. The office was later retitled the Office of Program and Resource Management, and subsequently abolished by a directive issued on April 24, 1992.
19860326: FAA announced a contract to upgrade the New York Radar Approach Control (TRACON) Facility, which provided radar service to aircraft approaching and departing the major hubs and designated satellite airports in the New York area. The existing facility used a special ARTS IIIA Automated Radar Terminal System capable of tracking 1,200 radar targets at one time. This would be upgraded to a unique ARTS IIIE able to simultaneously track 1,700 targets. The second stage of the enhancement would allow tracking of 2,800 targets, with a capability of expanding to 3,400 targets if needed. (See January 10, 1981, and September 20, 1991.)
19870326: FAA published a special rule addressing aviation safety and noise concerns at the Grand Canyon (see June 18, 1986). Provisions included: a temporary Special Flight Rule Area limiting operations below 9,000 feet mean sea level above the Canyon; prohibition of flights below the Canyon rim, with some exceptions; and requirements aimed at reducing the risk of midair collisions and terrain impact. Another rule, published on June 15, 1987, modified and extended these temporary provisions. On August 18, 1987, enactment of Public Law 100-91 mandated a study of aircraft noise impacts at a number of national parks and required flight restrictions at three parks: Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Haleakala. The law specified that FAA would prepare and issue a final plan for air traffic management above the Grand Canyon, based on recommendations from the Interior Department. On June 2, 1988, FAA published a rule implementing Interior’s preliminary recommendations, with some modifications. Among other provisions, this rule: raised the ceiling of the Special Flight Rule Area to 14,500 feet mean sea level; established flight-free zones from the surface to 14,500 feet above large areas of the park; and provided routes for commercial tour operators and transient operators through the canyon area. The rule was to expire after June 15, 1992, but was given two extensions totaling five years to allow for completion and review of National Park Service studies of the Canyon noise issue. On June 19, 1992, meanwhile, a crash claiming 10 lives continued a series of fatal accidents in the Canyon vicinity. The accidents prompted FAA to establish a new geographical unit to help oversee the area’s air tourism. (See March 17, 1994.)
20020326: Department of Transportation and Department of Defense (DoD) Secretaries Norman Mineta and Donald Rumsfeld announced the release of the 2001 Federal Radionavigation Plan. This plan included revised schedules for phasing down most land-based radionavigation systems to allow more time to transition to the global positioning system. Department of Transportation would continue to operate Loran-C in the short term while the administration continued to evaluate the long-term need for the system. Beginning with this edition, federal radionavigation information previously contained in a single document would be published in two separate documents, the Federal Radionavigation Plan, and a companion document entitled Federal Radionavigation Systems. The plan included the introduction, policies, operating plans, system selection considerations, and research and development sections, and would allow more efficient and responsive updates of policy and planning information. Sections relating to government roles and responsibilities, user requirements, and systems descriptions were moved to the companion document and would be updated as necessary. A joint product of the Department of Transportation and DoD, the radionavigation plan was mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 1998, which also required that the plan be revised and updated at least every two years. (See February 2000.)
20140326: NTSB cautioned airline pilots to exercise vigilance in the approach phase of a flight to avoid “potentially catastrophic mistakes.” The safety alert came after wrong-airport landings by Southwest Airlines in January and Atlas Air in November 2013.
20200326: FAA granted certain training exemptions to scheduled and on-demand air carriers because of the unprecedented circumstances associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The exemptions gave operators grace periods for completing certain training and qualification requirements, and gave crewmembers relief from having to don protective breathing equipment or oxygen masks in training, checking, or evaluation.
20200326: FAA began implementation of the Denver Metroplex Project, which would improve the efficiency of airspace in the Denver Metroplex area by optimizing aircraft arrival and departure procedures to and from various airports, including
* Denver International Airport (DEN)
* Centennial Airport (APA)
* Greeley-Weld County Airport (GXY)
* Northern Colorado Regional Airport (FNL)
* Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (BJC)
The project would use satellite navigation to move air traffic safely and efficiently through the area. It included 29 new routes and modifications to 15 existing routes. (See September 2, 2016; February 25, 2021.)
20200326: FAA issued a policy stating it would not take enforcement action against certain pilots or flight engineers who fly domestically with medical certificates that expired between March 31, 2020 and June 30, 2020. The following week, FAA granted an exemption that extended until June 30, 2020, the duration of medical certificates for certain pilots and flight engineers who conducted scheduled and on-demand operations outside the United States if those medical certificates expired between March 31, 2020, and May 31, 2020.