This Day in FAA History: March 29th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19270329: The Aeronautics Branch issued Aircraft Type Certificate No. 1 to the Buhl Airster C-A3, a three-place open biplane. The plane had an empty weight of 1,686 pounds and its engine had a horsepower rating of 200. By the end of fiscal year 1927, the total of aircraft type certificates issued had reached nine. The rate of type certification then progressively increased. By the end of fiscal year 1928, the total had reached 47; by the end of fiscal 1929, 170; by January 15, 1930, 287.
19460329: Executive Order 9709 authorized the Department of Commerce to take over and operate the 200 air navigation facilities in 68 foreign countries installed during the war for military purposes. This interim arrangement was later extended to include Alaska. A previous order in December 1945 had transferred responsibility for air navigation facilities and functions in Iran from the War Department to CAA.
19500329: CAA announced that it would close its facilities at Midway Island on May 1 due to the Navy’s decision to withdraw from the island. (See September 1947.)
19610329: Administrator Halaby requested a four-man group of consultants to review FAA rulemaking and enforcement procedures. This Project Tightrope study group, headed by Lloyd N. Cutler of Washington, D.C., was composed of prominent attorneys experienced in administrative law and aviation problems. Submitted in October, the Tightrope report made a number of recommendations that resulted in important changes in these procedures. Among the group’s recommendations were: establishing a Regulatory Council directly under the Administrator; appointing advisory committees for major rulemaking projects; eliminating the practice of keeping the rules docket closed until the end of the public comment period; publishing the proposed rule early in the rulemaking process; and having a trial-type hearing before an independent examiner prior to suspension or revocation of a certificate. (See January 8 and 17, 1962.)
19670329: FAA participated in NASA’s first public demonstration of a new data-link system using an orbiting satellite for transmitting navigation data from aircraft to ground stations. A Pan American World Airways cargo jet beamed the data to NASA’s ATS I satellite, which relayed the signals to an antenna at the Mojave Desert Ground Station in California. The signals then went by telephone lines to Kennedy International Airport by way of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. This was the first test of an aircraft antenna designed specially for transmitting satellite messages. (See December 6, 1966, and November 21, 1967.)
19710329: The FAA Administrator delegated to the Federal Air Surgeon the authority to grant or deny airman petitions for a medical exemption under a rule effective this date. Previously, the Administrator granted or denied such petitions after receiving the recommendation of an advisory panel of medical specialists. Under the new rule, the services of this panel were no longer required; however, the Federal Air Surgeon consulted with medical specialists where appropriate. Petitions involving a policy determination were referred, with the Federal Air Surgeon’s recommendations, to the Administrator for final action.
19790329: Effective this date, FAA revised its rules for airport security. In a departure from previous rules (see December 5, 1972), the agency permitted police officers assigned to security checkpoints in some airports to patrol other areas of the terminal, as long as they could respond quickly to trouble at their checkpoints (see September 11, 1981). In another major change, FAA made it a Federal offense for anyone, passenger or not, to carry guns or explosives into the “sterile” areas beyond the checkpoints. Before, regulations only prohibited carrying weapons on board air aircraft. FAA had originally proposed banning unauthorized guns and explosives from all areas of airport terminals, but relaxed the provision after a negative response from various sporting groups. The revised airport-security regulations represented increased concern, since the bomb explosion at La Guardia Airport (see December 29, 1975), for the safety of people in airport terminals as well as aboard airliners.
19850329: FAA published a rule to improve cabin fire protection for passengers aboard aircraft operated by major airlines under Federal Aviation Regulations Part 121. The rule required that each lavatory be equipped with a smoke detector, or equivalent, and that each lavatory trash receptacle be equipped with an automatic fire extinguisher. It also increased the number of hand fire extinguishers required in the cabins of aircraft with more than 60 seats, and specified that at least two of these use Halon 1211 or an equivalent extinguishing agent. The new rule resulted from investigation of two aircraft cabin fires and an inspection survey conducted in their wake. One of these fires involved an Air Canada flight (see June 2, 1983) and the other was a non-fatal blaze at Tampa on June 25, 1983. (See May 26, 1987, and April 4, 1991.)
19960329: The Clinton Administration announced a Presidential directive assuring the availability of Global Positioning System (GPS) signals to civilian users. The new policy included a planned end to the practice of degrading civil GPS signals, within a decade, in a manner that would allow the U.S. military to prepare for this eventuality.
On April 26, FAA cancelled its contract with Wilcox Electric for the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) to enhance GPS signals (see August 1, 1995). The agency cited project management problems and projected cost overruns. On May 1, FAA entered into a letter contract with Hughes Information Technology Systems regarding WAAS. This was followed by the October 29 announcement of a comprehensive contract with Hughes for WAAS development and implementation.
Other related milestones during 1996 included a July 26 FAA plan for transition to GPS-based navigation and landing guidance during a period of about 10 years that would start when augmented GPS service became available.
20000329: Effective this date, FAA required all airplanes with U.S. registry outfitted with six or more passenger seats also to be equipped with an FAA-approved terrain awareness and warning system (referred to as an enhanced ground proximity warning system). This announcement came in response to several accident investigations and studies that showed a need to increase the warning times and situational awareness of flight crews to decrease the risk of controlled flight into terrain accidents. (See December 15, 1997.)
20020329: In response to the En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) screening information request (SIR) issued March 15, Raytheon filed a formal protest of FAA’s sole-sourcing plans to judge bids for the ERAM contract. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin had been the only firms planning to bid on ERAM. Subsequently, an alternative dispute resolution process was set up, FAA shelved the sole-source proposal, and the agency worked with both companies to craft a new SIR. Late June 2002, FAA formalized an agreement between Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to resolve the ERAM contract dispute. Lockheed Martin was awarded the contract worth $10 million for the risk-mitigation phase of the ERAM program, with Raytheon named as one of the subcontractors. At the same time, Lockheed Martin was named as a subcontractor to Raytheon on the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) project. If Lockheed Martin successfully executed the risk mitigation phase, it would secure the implementation contract for the full ERAM program. The total projected value for implementation and support was estimated at $1 billion through 2012. (See September 28, 2001; June 30, 2003.)
20160329: FAA announced that it had selected unleaded fuel formulations from Shell and Swift Fuels for Phase 2 engine and aircraft testing. Test data would help the companies obtain an ASTM international production specification for their fuels and allow FAA to authorize the existing general aviation fleet to use the unleaded replacement fuels. The testing was scheduled to conclude in 2018. (See September 8, 2014.)