This Day in FAA History: April 8th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19470408: American Overseas Airlines obtained rights for commercial service to Finland, the first U.S. route to the Soviet sphere in Europe.
19590408: CAB ruled that foreign airlines could not carry commercial traffic moving only between U.S. cities. Consistent with U.S. international commitments, the ruling was viewed as strengthening the stand of U.S. airlines against further invasion of domestic markets by foreign carriers.
19650408: FAA demonstrated, with the manufacturer’s assistance, a McDonnell Aircraft Corporation 188 STOL (short takeoff and landing) aircraft at Dulles International Airport as part of the agency’s long-range study of interurban air transportation (see April 1966). The aircraft, a U.S. version of the Breguet 941, took off and landed at the 500-foot Dulles helistrip. Known as a blown-wing aircraft, the 188 had large propellers for high static thrust; the propeller slipstream covered the aircraft’s entire wing area. It employed highly deflected, full-span, triple-slotted flaps to produce the required lift for low takeoff and landing speeds as well as safe maneuverability. One commercial version of the aircraft could accommodate 55 passengers and take off with a maximum gross weight of 58,422 pounds.
19660408: FAA established a Noise Abatement Staff, under the Associate Administrator for Programs, to lead the agency’s response to a call by President Johnson for a government-wide effort to alleviate the problem of aircraft-engine noise. The President’s call came on the heels of a recommendation by the Jet Aircraft Noise Panel of the Office of Science and Technology that the Federal government take the lead in seeking solutions to the problem. Shortly after this recommendation, the President established an interagency aircraft noise abatement program under the Office of Science and Technology. FAA served on three interagency committees set up under this program. The various projects developed under this program fell into three categories: developing quieter engines; revising aircraft operating procedures; and promoting land uses around airports compatible with airport operations.
Later in the year, FAA drafted legislation empowering it to prescribe noise standards as part of the criteria for aircraft certification. The administration’s noise abatement bill was introduced in the 89th Congress, but did not come to a vote. (See July 21, 1967, December 4, 1967, and July 21, 1968.)
19750408: Acting Administrator James E. Dow announced the establishment of the Aviation Safety Reporting Program (ASRP), designed to provide the agency with information on potentially unsafe conditions in the National Airspace System, effective May 1, 1975. To encourage the reporting of violations, the program granted immunity from disciplinary action to pilots or controllers who filed a timely report. No immunity was granted, however, in the case of “reckless operations, criminal offenses, gross negligence, willful misconduct, and accidents.” FAA remained free to take corrective or remedial action necessary for air safety.
Although such immunity programs had been instituted before (see January 1, 1968), the ASRP was the first not limited to reports of near midair collisions. The program’s establishment anticipated one of the recommendations being prepared by the Secretary’s Task Force on the FAA Safety Mission (see January 28, 1975), of which Dow served as Executive Secretary. The Air Line Pilots Association, skeptical of the ASRP, preferred a system in which a third party would process reports and protect their confidentiality. (See August 15, 1975.)
19920408: FAA announced a new self-audit program for aviation manufacturers. The firms were encouraged to identify their own violations of safety regulations, and the agency would not take enforcement action for infringements voluntarily reported and corrected. FAA had previously unveiled a similar program for airlines (see March 27, 1990).
19930408: FAA released a study it had sponsored on the Age-60 rule on mandatory airline pilot retirement (see March 15, 1960). On the basis of accident data, the study’s authors concluded that there was “no support for the hypothesis that the pilots of scheduled air carriers have increased accidents as they near the age of 60.” The study did not deal with medical problems. FAA stated that any change to the Age-60 rule would have to be based on evidence that passenger safety would not be compromised. (See December 14, 1995.)
20020408: Department of Transportation Inspector General for Auditing, Alexis Stefani, testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Aviation Subcommittee on FAA’s oversight of passenger aircraft maintenance. Stefani stated that while FAA’s Air Transport Oversight System (ATOS) for monitoring air carriers was conceptually sound, it was not reaching its full potential at the original ten major carriers and had not been expanded to the remaining 129 passenger air carriers. FAA had a longstanding requirement for carriers to monitor their own maintenance. The carriers, however, placed limited emphasis on information derived from Continuing Analysis and Surveillance Systems, a subcomponent of ATOS used to monitor the effectiveness of their aircraft maintenance and inspection programs. As a result, weaknesses had gone undetected in air carrier maintenance systems. Stefani recommended FAA
* Finish developing key elements of ATOS – specifically, processes for analyzing inspection results and ensuring that corrective actions were implemented for weaknesses found in air carrier maintenance and operations systems,
* Improve inspector training and locating qualified inspectors where they were most needed, and
* Establish strong national oversight and accountability to ensure consistent ATOS field implementation. (See October 1, 1998.)
20080408: Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced the selection of Marie Kennington-Gardiner as director of the New York Integration Office, created as part of a coordinated effort to address chronic aviation delays in the New York region. As the newly appointed aviation “czar,” Kennington-Gardiner would coordinate regional airspace issues and all projects and initiatives addressing problems of congestion and delays in New York. (See December 19, 2007.)
20080408: FAA announced it had transitioned to a new telecommunications network that would increase network reliability and save hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade. The FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI) network replaced the legacy telecommunications network known as the Leased Interfacility National Airspace System Communications (LINCS). (See November 2, 1993; December 8, 2009.)
20100408: FAA awarded CSSI, Inc., a $280 million contract to perform engineering work for NextGen. This was the first of six contracts that would be awarded under an umbrella portfolio contract called System Engineering 2020 (SE-2020), which had a ceiling of $7 billion. (See May 26, 2010.)
20130408: In a settlement agreement and order made public on this date, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) said it would spend the next 12 months creating a dedicated aircraft rescue firefighting (ARFF) force at the four New York-area airports it owned and operated – John F. Kennedy (JFK), Teterboro, LaGuardia, and Newark Liberty International after acknowledging lapses that included allowing untrained Port Authority police officers to serve on active ARFF duty. PANYNJ paid $3.5 million in fines to settle the case and agreed to hire dedicated ARFF firefighters, facility captains, and a fire chief, as well as to set up a training academy to ensure they met basic standards. FAA’s investigation began when Port Authority officials could not supply training documentation during a routine inspection at JFK in December 2011. FAA then reviewed training at LaGuardia, Newark Liberty, and Stewart International, and found only Stewart – where DOD provided ARFF services – in compliance. FAA and Port Authority officials planned to meet monthly to review progress on meeting the milestones set out in the settlement, and FAA could impose an additional $1.5 million in fines, plus $27,500 daily for each additional violation, if PANYNJ violated the settlement deal.
20150408: Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced India complied with international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and had been granted a Category 1 rating. (See January 31, 2014; December 19, 2018.)
20150408: FAA granted American Airlines and US Airways the authority to operate as a single carrier. The decision allowed the two airlines to combine work forces, websites, and reservations systems, starting in the fall of 2015. (See October 20, 2014; October 16, 2015.)
20200408: FAA announced it was taking steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 in air traffic control facilities. Each air traffic control facility established separate teams of controllers that would stay together throughout the duty week. Each crew would contain the same employees, limiting the possibility of cross-exposure to COVID-19 that would come through normal shift rotations. If a person on one team got sick, the only people who would be exposed were the other people on that team.
20200408: FAA issued an exemption to help protect flight attendants from contracting COVID-19. The exemption allowed flight attendants to relocate from the seats they normally occupied so they could observe social distancing. It also excused them from having to demonstrate the use of certain emergency equipment including life preservers and oxygen masks, allowing for alternative methods to inform passengers regarding the use of such equipment. The exemption ran through June 30. The agency subsequently amended the seat exemption through January 31, 2021, and the deadline for the exemption which gave crewmembers relief from having to don protective breathing equipment or oxygen masks in training, checking, or evaluation through November 30.
20210408: Boeing notified FAA it had recommended operators of certain Boeing 737 MAX airplanes to temporarily remove them from service to address a manufacturing issue that could affect the operation of a backup power control unit. (See December 9, 2020; May 27, 2021.)