This Day in FAA History: April 7th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19410407: The War Department-sponsored Interdepartmental Air Traffic Control Board began operations on this date. The IATCB included representatives of the Army, Navy, CAA, and CAB, and became an important coordinating agency for the location of military air installations. Forerunner to the later Air Coordinating Committee (see March 27, 1945), IATCB helped evolve many of the procedures for the control and regulation of air traffic used during the war. The Board was abolished on May 31, 1946.
19610407: FAA rescinded previous orders that had authorized the establishment of field area offices in accordance with recommendations of Project Straight-Line. (See September 2, 1960 and October 1, 1963.)
19610407: FAA adopted the side-lobe suppression feature as a national standard for the air traffic control radar beacon system. The side-lobe suppression technique would permit ground facilities to interrogate and receive a radar reply only from the aircraft being queried. This ability expanded the radar beacon system’s capacity to handle air traffic. (See September 10, 1959, and September 11, 1961.)
19670407: FAA certificated West Germany’s first civilian jet transport, the Hamburger Flugzeugbau HFB 320 Hansa. The nine-passenger twin-jet had received German type approval on February 23, 1967, and had first flown on April 21, 1964.
19720407: The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority Board gave final approval to a plan for elevated tracks and a station on the rapid rail transit line to run through Washington National Airport. FAA had preferred an underground station feeding directly into the airport’s terminal, arguing that such an arrangement would be more convenient, aesthetically preferable, and would allow greater flexibility in future development. The Board countered that an underground station would cost $30 million more than the elevated route and would prevent completion of the system in time for the 1976 Bicentennial celebration.
Because work could not begin without right-of-way permission from FAA, which operated the airport, the dispute threatened a costly delay in Metro’s construction. The White House broke the impasse by approving the elevated plan, basing its decision on a recommendation by the Office of Management and Budget that emphasized budgetary considerations. The first stage of Washington’s rapid rail system opened to the public on July 1, 1976, but the airport station did not open until after the close of the Bicentennial year.
19930407: President Clinton signed legislation creating a National Commission to Ensure a Strong, Competitive Airline Industry to study the problems facing the aviation industry. Former Virginia governor Gerald L. Baliles chaired the commission, which had 11 non-voting and 15 voting members. The commission met for the first time on May 24, and delivered its final report to the President on August 19. Among its recommendations was the creation of an independent federal corporate entity within DOT to manage and fund air traffic control and related functions (see September 7, 1993). Other recommendations included: establishment of an advisory committee to further the airlines’ financial health; bankruptcy code reforms; tax breaks for airlines; possible use of oil reserves when needed to control sharp increases in fuel prices; efforts to create a multi-national operating environment for airlines free of discrimination and restrictions; allowing foreign ownership of up to 49 percent of voting equity in U.S. airlines, providing this was part of a liberal and fair bilateral agreement; limiting the liability of general aviation aircraft manufacturers to 15 years from the date of manufacture (see August 17, 1994); and maintaining the Essential Air Service program.
19970407: In response to North Korea’s opening of its airspace to routine international flights, the U.S. government lifted its prohibition on paying overflight fees to North Korea. April 24 the FAA cited such factors as North Korea’s military rules of engagement as justification, however, for publishing a special federal aviation regulation (SFAR) prohibiting certain U.S. flights in the area.
19980407: Federal aviation investigators probing the explosion of TWA Flight 800 urged inspections of the wiring in fuel monitoring systems of hundreds of Boeing 747s and possibly other Boeing jets. In a letter to FAA Administrator Jane Garvey, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall noted that his organization had found damaged wiring on the “fuel quantity indication systems” of the crashed aircraft and three other 747s. While not directly linking them with the explosion of Flight 800’s fuel tank, the letter described the conditions as “potentially hazardous.” Also, sources close to the investigation said the letter was not intended to indicate that the board was any closer to determining the cause of the fuel tank’s violent explosion. The problems with the 747 fuel systems had been revealed earlier, and had been discussed at hearings on the crash held the previous year in Baltimore. (See December 19, 1997; May 10, 1998.)