This Day in FAA History: April 6th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19270406: William P. MacCracken, Jr., Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Aeronautics, received Pilot License No. 1, a private pilot license, from the Aeronautics Branch. MacCracken thus became the first person to obtain a pilot license from a civilian agency of the U.S. Government. (During World War I, the Joint Army and Navy Board on Aeronautic Cognizance had issued flying licenses to civilian individuals and companies. The Board acted under the authority of a Presidential proclamation, issued on February 28, 1918, which described the program as a wartime security measure; however, the proclamation remained in effect until July 31, 1919, more than eight months after the Armistice.) Before accepting License No. 1, MacCracken had offered this honor to Orville Wright, promising to waive the fee and examination. Wright declined because he no longer flew and did not think he needed a Federal license to show that he had been the first man to fly. Like Secretary Hoover, Wright believed MacCracken should receive License No. 1. (See August 19, 1940.)
19610406: FAA established a three-layer airways system and lowered the floor of the continental control area from 24,000 to 14,500 feet. A new intermediate system covering altitudes between 14,500 and 24,000 feet was designed primarily to provide express airways for long- and medium-haul operations. The high-altitude jet route system extended above 24,000 feet; the low-level system, in operation for many years, extended up to 14,500 feet. The lowering of the floor of the continental control area put into effect more stringent weather minimums for visual flight rule (VFR) operations above 14,500 feet. (See October 15, 1960-March 1, 1961, and September 17, 1964.)
19650406: The British government disclosed it had abandoned the TSR-2 tactical-strike reconnaissance jet program. The Ministry of Defence stated that the program’s cost “was out of all proportion to the aircraft’s military value.” The loss of technical experience resulting from this decision was perceived as a setback for development of the supersonic transport Concorde (see December 11, 1967).
19700406: Management responsibility for the supersonic transport (SST) development program was transferred from the FAA to the Office of the Secretary, Department of Transportation. The Director of Supersonic Transport Development would henceforth take guidance and direction from the Under Secretary of Transportation, while FAA would continue to provide a variety of support functions for the program. In announcing the transfer a few days earlier, Secretary Volpe had explained that it would increase his oversight of the program. In addition, the change would ensure that FAA, the agency responsible for certificating the aircraft, would not be responsible for its development. Volpe had also announced the appointment of William M. Magruder as Director of the program, succeeding Brig. Gen. Jewell C. Maxwell, who had resigned during the previous summer. (See January 15, 1969, and April 22, 1970.)
19710406: FAA required pilot familiarization with all available information concerning the runway lengths at airports of intended use, as well as with takeoff and landing distances appropriate to the aircraft being used. This mandatory preflight action replaced various general operating practices.
19780406: Eastern Air Lines signed a $778 million contract to add 23 Airbus Industrie A-300 aircraft to its fleet. FAA Administrator Langhorne Bond called the airplane “the strongest challenge to the U.S. aircraft industry in years,” reflecting widespread concern about the absence of an American entry in the market for smaller wide-body jets to replace the aging first generation of jet transports. Airbus Industrie had mounted an aggressive campaign to secure the Eastern order, allowing the airline to operate four A-300s on a six-month cost-free lease, with the manufacturer paying for all legal fees, tariffs, certification charges, maintenance, and repairs. Airbus Industrie provided $96 million in financing and promised to compensate Eastern for certain operating costs.
19790406: FAA announced award of a contract for acquisition of second generation common radar digitizers, equipment that converts radar returns into computer-readable digital messages that are then transmitted to the appropriate air traffic control facility. The major advantage of the new common digitizers, known as CD-2s, was the addition of a second channel to permit the equipment to keep working if one channel failed or was shut down for maintenance. The contract provided for 106 of the CD-2s to be installed at long range radar sites, while three would be used in conjunction with airport radars, and seven would be used for training and support services. (See March 1986.)
19890406: In Lebanon, NH, FAA commissioned the first permanent, Federally funded Microwave Landing System (MLS) at a commercial airport. The Hazeltine Corporation had delivered the system to the agency under a contract for 178 MLS units. On August 7, 1989, however, FAA notified Hazeltine that it was terminating the contract because of the company’s failure to meet the specified delivery schedule. (See May 20, 1987, and December 6, 1989.)
20000406: FAA awarded a contract worth up to $22 million to Airsys ATM, Inc., for the acquisition of up to 105 ILS configurations. The ILS, a primary landing system, provided vertical and lateral guidance to aircraft during the final approach and landing phases of flight.
20040406: FAA, in partnership with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and U.S. aviation manufacturers and suppliers, launched the U.S.-China Aviation Cooperation Program to expand relations and cooperation with Chinese counterparts. (See June 22, 2007.)
20070406: FAA released new guidelines allowing developers to obtain one-year experimental launch permits for reusable spacecraft. These provisions would give businesses the opportunity to fly and test their vehicles before applying for a FAA launch license. A permit would cover multiple vehicles of a particular design and could be used for an unlimited number of launches. Applicants would have to provide FAA a program description, a flight test plan, operational safety documentation (including a hazard analysis), and a plan for responding to any mishap. None of the flights covered by an experimental permit could be flown for profit, and the permits could be renewed following a favorable FAA review. The agency would determine what kind of design changes could be made to a vehicle before its permit would be invalidated. (See December 15, 2006.)
20160406: The Micro UAS ARC issued its report and recommended FAA regulate small drones based on the risk they pose to people and set standards manufacturers and operators should meet. FAA planned to examine the recommendations as it formulated a new proposal specific to micro drones. FAA expected to release its next full proposal on drone use in December 2016. (See March 10, 2016; May 4, 2016.)
20200406: FAA authorized pilot schools to temporarily use distance learning programs or suspend operations for a period of time because of the COVIS-19 pandemic.
20230406: FAA awarded $19 million to 14 universities nationwide as part of the Aviation Sustainability Center (ASCENT). The research projects focused on noise reduction for new aircraft, noise and advanced air mobility aircraft, drones, rotorcraft, and noise and communities. (See January 9, 2023.)