This Day in FAA History: March 27th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19450327: An interdepartmental memorandum between the State, War, Navy, and Commerce Departments set up an Air Coordinating Committee (ACC) for the purpose of achieving an integrated and coordinated Federal aviation policy. In May 1946, the ACC established an airspace subcommittee to carry on the work of the Interdepartmental Air Traffic Control Board (IATCB), which had functioned during the war to resolve civil-military airspace-use problems. On September 19, 1946, the President formally chartered the ACC. Membership now included the State, War, Navy, Post Office, and Commerce Departments, the Civil Aeronautics Board, and the Bureau of the Budget (nonvoting member), although subsequent executive orders made changes in the ACC’s membership from time to time until the committee was abolished in October 1960.
19470327: Figures released by the CAB indicated the strong U.S. position in transatlantic air transport. Three American airlines–Pan American, American Overseas, and Trans Continental and Western Air (TWA)–had made 84 percent of the flights and carried 86 percent of the passengers on transatlantic routes during the preceding year.
19640327: The severe “Good Friday” earthquake destroyed the Anchorage airport traffic control tower. One FAA employee died in the quake, which registered between 8.5 and 8.7 on the Richter scale. As a result of widespread damage in the Alaska area, Congress authorized FAA to retain jurisdiction for two more years over 15 airports in Alaska. The agency operated these airports under the Alaska Omnibus Act of 1959, which funded the reimbursement of Federal agencies performing services for the new state of Alaska normally performed by state or local governments. Authorization for these funds had been due to expire on June 30, 1964, but was extended to June 30, 1966 by Public Law 88-311, enacted May 27, 1964.
19670327: FAA approved a new 2,000-candlepower runway centerline light to permit operations under visibility as low as 700 feet.
19690327: FAA created an Equal Opportunity Staff, headed by a Director of Equal Opportunity, and transferred the equal opportunity and civil rights functions of the Office of Compliance and Security to the new staff. On May 19, 1969, the staff became the Office of Civil Rights. The head of the office, who reported directly to the Administrator, was titled the Director of Civil Rights (later the Assistant Administrator for Civil Rights). The new office’s responsibilities included assuring: that FAA offered equal opportunities to all employees eligible for advancement and all qualified job applicants; that employment practices of FAA contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, and recipients of FAA grants-in-aid conformed with Federal civil rights regulations; and that FAA programs and activities affecting housing and urban development were consistent with the fair housing provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. FAA’s action was in response to a call by the Secretary of Transportation to “do everything the letter and the spirit of the law provide in order to make equal opportunity a reality.” An Office of Civil Rights had been established in the Office of the Secretary on December 14, 1968.
19750327: AN FAA DC-3 crashed on takeoff from Boise, Pa., injuring all 11 persons aboard. In determining the probable cause, the National Transportation Safety Board cited the inexperience of the pilot, who was not qualified for that type of aircraft. The pilot, a Regional Director, received a reprimand and 30-day suspension, and was later transferred to another position.
19770327: Two Boeing 747s collided on a runway at Tenerife, Canary Islands, under conditions of limited visibility. One of the aircraft, a Pan American jet, was moving down the runway toward an assigned taxiway. The other, belonging to Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM), had been assigned to wait at the end of the same runway. The Dutch crew was approaching the legal flight duty time limit. Their captain apparently misinterpreted a message from the tower as clearance to take off. Disregarding the doubts of a crew member, he began the takeoff roll. The resulting collision killed all 248 persons aboard the KLM jet and 335 of the 396 persons aboard the Pan American. The fatality total of 583 was the worst that had occurred in any aviation accident. Most of the casualties were caused by the intense fires that engulfed both aircraft. The accident stimulated interest in fire safety (see June 26, 1978) and in airport surface detection equipment (see July 5, 1977).
19800327: The Boeing Company revealed plans for flight decks accommodating two-member crews for the fuel-efficient new generation 757 and 767 twin-engine jets. The new decks would include an engine indicating and crew alerting system (EICAS) to centralize all engine displays and provide automatic monitoring of engine operation. (See May 7, 1977 and August 26, 1980.)
19900327: In a speech to the Aero Club of Washington, Administrator Busey urged all airlines to establish a safety self-audit program. FAA would not penalize airlines for inadvertent violations uncovered by the audits, provided the problem were promptly corrected and reported to the agency. (See April 8, 1992.)
19970327: Although a section of a wing flap fell off of Delta Boeing 767 near Dallas, the plane landed with no passenger or crew injuries. April 2, FAA ordered inspections of flaps for all 767s with at least 25,000 hours or 10,000 flights.
19970327: FAA initiated phase 1 of Reduced Vertical Separation Minima (RVSM) procedures in the North Atlantic. Reducing separation from 2,000 to 1,000 had huge implications for capacity and fuel efficiency in oceanic operations. This was the first reduction of separation over the Atlantic in 40 years. (See April 9, 1997.)
20090327: The White House announced its intention to nominate J. Randolph Babbitt for FAA administrator. The President nominated Babbitt on May 11 and the Senate confirmed him on May 21, 2009. He was sworn in as FAA’s sixteenth administrator on June 1, 2009. Babbitt came to FAA from Oliver Wyman, an international management consulting firm where he served as partner. A veteran pilot, Babbitt had been a member of the agency’s Management Advisory Council since 2001. He was the founding partner of Eclat Consulting in 2001, and served as President and CEO until Oliver Wyman acquired Eclat in 2007. Babbitt began his aviation career as a pilot, flying 25 years for Eastern Airlines. A skilled negotiator, he served as President and CEO for the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). Lynne Osmus, who had served as acting administrator, became the acting deputy administrator. (See January 16, 2009; December 4, 2009.)
20120327: President Barack Obama nominated acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to be FAA administrator for a five-year term. Huerta had been confirmed as the agency’s deputy administrator in June 2010. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee held a confirmation hearing for Huerta on June 21. The hearing, however, was suspended because Senators needed to cast ballots on a bill. The Committee met on July 31and unanimously voted to send the nomination to the full Senate for a vote. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), however, placed a hold on the nomination until after the presidential elections. He lifted the hold once the elections were over. The U.S. Senate confirmed Huerta for a five-year term as FAA administrator on January 1, 2013. (See December 5, 2011; January 1, 2013.)
20140327: Facebook announced it the purchase of Ascenta, a U.K.-based aerospace company for $20 million to help deliver the Internet to underserved areas by building drones, satellites, and lasers. On April 14, Google announced the purchase of Titan Aerospace, a New Mexico company that manufactured high-altitude drones.
20200327: President Donald Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Under the $2.2 trillion bill, FAA received $10 billion for its Airport Improvement Program, distributed by formula, to maintain operations at airports across the nation that faced a record drop in passengers. The legislation also included
Direct grants:
* $25 billion for commercial airlines.
* $4 billion for cargo air carriers.
* $3 billion for contractors who employ baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants, cabin cleaners, food service workers and others at airports. Conditions:
* The aid must “exclusively be used for the continuation of payment of employee wages, salaries and benefits.”
* Grant recipients cannot cut jobs, pay or benefits through Sept. 30, 2020, and they cannot buy back their stock or pay stock dividends through Sept. 30, 2021.
* The airlines must maintain service to all the destinations they served on March 1, 2020, through March 1, 2022, which could mean continuing to fly empty or near-empty planes.
Loans and loan guarantees:
* $25 billion available to passenger airlines.
* $4 billion for cargo air carriers.
* $17 billion in loans and loan guarantees to aerospace “businesses critical to maintaining national security,” which industry and congressional sources say in essence means Boeing and its suppliers.
* The companies taking out the loans are prohibited from buying back stock and paying stock dividends during the lifetime of the loan.
* There are limits on compensation, bonuses and golden parachutes for executives earning more than $425,000.
* Recipients of the loans must maintain March 24, 2020, employment levels “to the extent practicable” and under no circumstance can they cut more than 10% of the company’s workforce.
* The federal government may require an equity stake in the companies as collateral for the loans.
20200327: FAA allowed aircraft dispatcher certification course providers to deviate from some standard practices, including instituting or expanding distance-based training for currently enrolled students and suspending course administration.
20230327: FAA granted a limited waiver of slot usage requirements “due to post-pandemic effects” at high-density slot-controlled Level 3 airports JFK, LGA, and Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA), and at Newark (EWR), a Level 2 slot facilitated airport. The limited waivers were valid from May 15, 2023, through September 15, 2023, for carriers who identified the slots and timings before April 30. The agency extended the slot and scheduling usage waivers through October 28, 2023.