This Day in FAA History: April 2nd

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19590402: FAA announced the adoption of a new “mobile lounge” concept of transporting airline passengers between the terminal building and parked aircraft at Washington’s planned jet airport at Chantilly, Va. Making possible a reduction in terminal building size, the mobile lounge system was intended to eliminate finger docks, tunnels, and other devices to get passengers to their airplane. Although passengers at some European airports traveled between terminal and aircraft on buses, this was the first time that a specially designed vehicle had been proposed for this purpose. On November 27, 1961, FAA reaffirmed the concept for use at the new airport and announced a $4.7 million contract award for 20 mobile lounges.
19710402: FAA realigned its regional field structure in the contiguous 48 States to conform generally with the President’s plan for a common pattern of Federal regional boundaries and regional headquarters. In March 1969, the President had announced a plan calling for 10 standard Federal regions encompassing all 50 States to facilitate service to the public in matters cutting across departmental or agency lines. Conformance with this plan required FAA to establish four new regions–New England, Great Lakes, Rocky Mountain, and Northwest–and to realign the boundaries of four of its five preexisting regions in the contiguous 48 States. The resulting nine regions in the contiguous states, their regional headquarters, and the states each encompassed, were
* New England (Boston): Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont.
* Eastern (New York City): New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.
* Southern (Atlanta): North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
* Great Lakes (Chicago): Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
* Central (Kansas City): Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska.
* Southwest (Fort Worth): Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.
* Rocky Mountain (Denver): Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
* Northwest (Seattle): Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.
* Western (Los Angeles): California, Arizona, and Nevada.
FAA was authorized certain deviations from the President’s plan: (1) the agency did not establish a region headquartered at Philadelphia, but instead combined the states that the plan allocated to that region with those allocated to New York; (2) FAA’s Alaskan Region was not combined with the region headquartered at Seattle; (3) and Hawaii continued as the main part of FAA’s Pacific Region, headquartered at Los Angeles, rather than becoming part of a region headquartered at San Francisco. Thus, FAA had 11 regions for the 50 States. (See June 12, 1981.)
At the same time that FAA’s regional realignment went into force, FAA abolished its area offices in the contiguous 48 States (see November 22, 1968), and the responsibilities of the area managers were transferred to the appropriate regional directors. Area coordinators without line authority were stationed at seven locations formerly having area offices (Albuquerque, Houston, Memphis, Miami, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.). In addition, Cleveland and Minneapolis each had a local coordinator with responsibility limited to the city’s metropolitan jurisdiction. These coordinators served as a point of contact for the public on issues involving more than one program area, represented the regional director with the community on nonprogram matters, and advised and assisted program elements of FAA on activities that crossed program lines. In Alaska, FAA also closed the Fairbanks, Juneau, Nome, and King Salmon Area Offices (see May 22, 1969), and area coordinators assumed services formerly performed by those offices.
19710402: The Administrator gave air traffic control facilities increased flexibility in granting pilot routing and altitude requests for all types of aircraft. Conditions permitting, controllers were empowered to: relax the requirements for preferential routings; assign the most economical altitudes; discontinue standard instrument departures; and honor requests for direct radar vectors. These relaxed procedures were made possible by a temporary decline in air traffic during fiscal 1971 (the first such decline since fiscal 1961), which coincided with a general slowdown in the U.S. economy.
19800402: Administrator Bond announced a proposed revision to the master plan for automating the flight service stations (see January 1978). A feature of that plan had been the ultimate consolidation of the entire network of FSS sites into 20 automated stations co-located with air route traffic control centers (ARTCCs). Instead, Bond called for eventual consolidation into 61 automated stations. Although linked by telephone lines to computers at the air route traffic control centers, these sites would be housed in new buildings at airports that were centers of general aviation activity. Bond rejected the co-location of FSSs and ARTCCs (see September 1977), stating that this experiment had isolated flight service stations from general aviation pilots while showing no cost or operational advantages. (See January 25, 1980, and May 28, 1981.)
19860402: A bomb hidden under a seat cushion exploded aboard a TWA 727 on approach to Athens, Greece, creating a hole in the fuselage four feet in diameter. The blast killed four passengers and injured nine others, but the aircraft landed safely. The bomb was similar to one that exploded on August 11, 1982, aboard a Pan American 747 flying from Japan to Hawaii, killing 1 person and injuring 15.
19900402: A National Transportation Safety Board reorganization effective this date included establishment of a new Office of Aviation Safety.
19990402: FAA announced an agreement to join with Raytheon Systems, and Honeywell Inc. in the development of the Local Area Augmentation System. Raytheon and Honeywell would provide funding for the development, and FAA would provide the LAAS specifications and expertise on development and certification. (See January 29, 1999; August 13, 1999.)
20070402: Runway 7R/25L opened at Los Angeles International Airport.
20080402: FAA acting Administrator Robert Sturgell announced that a safety audit had found U.S. air carriers in compliance with 99 percent of the nearly 2,400 airworthiness directives (ADs) sampled by safety inspectors between March 13 and March 28, 2008. Sturgell also announced plans to (1) enable inspectors to raise their concerns quickly and at a higher level; (2) toughen ethical standards for inspectors to prevent conflicts of interest; (3) enhance airline safety by improving the clarity and coordination of directives issued by FAA to air carriers; (4) require reporting of voluntary disclosures to be made by senior airline officials; and (5) speed up the expansion of our comprehensive aviation safety database. The announced actions included
* Developing a Safety Issues Reporting System (SIRS) to be implemented by April 30, 2008, which would provide employees an additional mechanism to raise safety concerns if they felt they were not receiving the necessary response from supervisory and management personnel.
* Initiating, by June 30, a rulemaking project to address ethics policies that would enhance inspector post-employment restrictions.
* Working with manufacturers and air carriers to develop a system to improve the clarity of ADs to ensure effective implementation by the industry.
* Requiring senior airline officials submit reports detailing compliance deviations under the Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program.
* Accelerating the expansion of the Aviation Safety and Analysis Sharing Program. (See March 18, 2008; September 22, 2010.)
20140402: FAA dedicated its new air traffic control facility at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, TX. The 47,500-square-foot terminal radar approach control (TRACON) facility replaced an outdated structure commissioned more than 40 years ago.
20140402: The Supreme Court ruled unanimously “an airline had the right to dump a frequent flier who complained too much.” The Court said airlines “have sole discretion to drop frequent fliers.” The case “involved Rabbi Binyomin Ginsberg, who was ousted from Northwest Airlines’ WorldPerks loyalty program for complaining too often about getting bumped from flights and repeatedly seeking compensation the airline considered unfair.” The airline argued that frequent-flier programs “operate at the sole discretion of the airline,” and that airlines “can’t tailor their programs to a patchwork of consumer laws in 50 states.” Writing for the court in overturning the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Samuel Alito said “that travelers have protection from being mistreated because they could sue for possible breach of contract, just not for covenants that Justice Ruth Ginsberg had argued were implied by participating in a loyalty program.”
20180402: NASA announced it had awarded Lockheed Martin a $247.5 million contract to design and build a new X-plane, known as the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBFD), which may soar silently over the U.S. by 2022.