This Day in FAA History: March 30th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19330330: The Sikorsky S-42, a four-engine flying boat designed for Pan American Airways, made its first flight. The S-42, which entered scheduled service on August 16, 1934, weighed over 20 tons, and could carry 32 passengers and a full load for a distance of 750 miles. (See April 28, 1937.)
19470330: CAA Administrator T. P. Wright announced that he had lowered ceilings and visibility requirement for airlines using the instrument landing system, known as ILS (see May 2, 1940, and July 11, 1947). Scheduled airlines with the proper equipment and training in use of the ILS could now make straight in approaches when the ceiling was 100 feet below the present minimim (400 feet at most airports) and with visibility one-quarter less than present regulations required (generally one mile). After an airline had six months of satisfactory experience with the ILS, its ceiling minimum might be dropped another 100 feet and permissable visibility reduced another one-quarter mile. CAA had no plans to reduce ceilings below 200 feet or visibility below one-half mile. On November 1, Braniff became the first airline to receive permission to lower its ceiling minimum to 200 feet and one-half mile visibility. (See October 2, 1964.)
19490330: The President approved legislation providing for construction of a permanent radar defense network for the United States.
19530330: The Commerce Department’s Office of Transportation was abolished and its function thereafter focused directly in the Office of the Under Secretary for Transportation. (See May 24, 1950.)
19770330: Secretary of Transportation Brock Adams announced the withdrawal of Federal support for a proposed new St. Louis airport near Waterloo, Ill. His predecessor, William T. Coleman, Jr., had given conditional approval to the Waterloo site in September 1976, but Adams, in reversing this decision, said that pressing ahead on a new airport there was “premature.” He acknowledged that his choice had been influenced by strong political opposition in Missouri to the project, as well as by the recent signing of longterm leases by major airlines at the existing Lambert-St. Louis Municipal Airport. (Langhorne M. Bond, who became FAA Administrator on May 4, 1977, had been a leading advocate of the Illinois site while he was Illinois Secretary of Transportation. Bond agreed during his confirmation hearings not to take part in a decision on the issue.)
19840330: FAA withdrew an advance notice of proposed rulemaking relating to the Age-60 rule (see March 15, 1960). The agency had issued the notice on June 23, 1982, partly in response to a recommendation made to Congress by the National Institute on Aging (see December 29, 1979). The notice solicited information on whether to establish a program to determine if persons age 60 or older could safely serve as pilots of major airplanes. It also asked for views on whether the age-60 rule should be extended to apply to flight engineers, an action advocated by United Air Lines. In withdrawing the notice, FAA noted that it agreed with experts who contended that “there are currently no methods to obtain medical and performance data on older pilots that would provide significantly meaningful data to consider relaxing the age-60 rule.” The agency also stated that there was insufficient data available to support the extension of the rule to flight engineers. (See April 8, 1993.)
19940330: President Clinton signed the Federal Workforce Restructuring Act of 1994, legislation offering buyouts of up to $25,000 to personnel willing to leave Federal service. The act also targeted a reduction of 272,900 Federal employees between 1993 and 1999. The buyout was offered in conjunction with an early retirement option, authority for which had become available on March 14. FAA initially offered the buyout to its personnel between March 31 and May 3, 1994. Certain categories of employees received subsequent buyout offers, some with a deferred retirement option, during 1994 and 1995. More than 3,000 FAA employees eventually received buyouts. The buyouts were a major factor in the reduction of FAA’s full-time equivalent workforce, which fell from 52,352 in fiscal 1992 to 47,738 at the end of fiscal 1996.
19980330: Vice President Al Gore announced that two new civilian global positioning system (GPS) signals would be provided by the U.S. free of charge. The announcement fulfilled a pledge made by the Department of Defense and Department of Transportation in March 1997 to reach a decision on a second civil frequency within a year. (See February 27, 1997; June 3, 1998.)
20000330: Controllers at the Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center started testing an advanced computer tool designed to help them direct more aircraft into airports during busy hours. The Traffic Management Advisor (TMA) would look at planes several hundred miles from selected airports as they approached from all directions. As the aircraft got closer, TMA would help controllers develop plans to handle the traffic effectively according to the spacing requirements for each airport. The new system was to be one half of FAA’s Center-TRACON automation system. The other component – the passive final approach spacing tool – would be located at the agency’s terminal radar control (TRACON) facilities in Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and St. Louis. (See April 16, 1998.)
20060330: PASS accepted FAA’s contract proposal. However, the union’s bargaining team made it clear to FAA that, although it did not think the agency’s offer was fair or reasonable, it would leave the decision to its voting members. August 3, FAA system specialists voted to reject the agency’s contract offer and called for the agency to return to the bargaining table. The Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS) union said its members rejected the contract by a margin of 98 percent. The rejection was anticipated because PASS had recommended that its members vote against the contract offer. Because PASS nominally accepted the FAA proposal as a tentative agreement, FAA had to await the conclusion of the voting process before taking any other action. (See January 3, 2006.)
20160330: FAA issued two new rules dealing with flight simulators and aviation training devices to improve airline pilots’ response to a number of unusual situations they might encounter, and give pilots more credit toward the requirements for an instrument rating. The rules set new standards for flight simulator evaluation and qualification, designed to make simulator training and testing more accurate and realistic in scenarios involving stalls, upset recognition and recovery techniques, maneuvers in icing conditions, takeoffs and landings in gusting crosswinds, and bounced landing recovery. FAA required training for most of these maneuvers in a rule published on November 12, 2013. The new rule also addressed a possible lack of simulator fidelity identified in several National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) safety recommendations and provided greater harmonization with international guidance for flight simulator training. Air carriers had to develop training programs using simulators that met the upgraded requirements by March 12, 2019. (See November 5, 2013.)
20160330: President Barack Obama signed a short-term extension of aviation programs, giving lawmakers three and a half more months to work on a long-term bill. The measure (HR 4721) extended aviation authorization through July 15. The previous authority (PL 114-55) expired on this date. (See September 30, 2015; July 15, 2016.)
20180330: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave formal approval to a plan by SpaceX to build a global broadband network using satellites. The FCC said the decision was “the first approval of a US.-licensed satellite constellation to provide broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies.” (See September 1, 2016; November 15, 2020.)
20200330: FAA issued a noise certification notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that proposed to add landing and takeoff noise standards for a certain class of new supersonic airplanes. The NPRM followed a 2019 proposed rule to update the requirements to apply for a special flight authorization for flying above Mach 1 in the United States. (See August 14, 2013; August 4, 2020.)
20200330: FAA published a NPRM that would require air carriers to enter and share pilot records in a FAA-managed pilot records database before making hiring decisions. Under the proposal, pilots would be required to provide consent for an air carrier to access their records during the hiring process. The records-sharing requirement also would apply to commercial drone operators holding Part 107 remote pilot certificates when an unmanned aircraft system was used in air carrier operations. (See December 17, 2017; May 26, 2021.)