This Day in FAA History: April 18th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19390418: The minimum age requirement for a private pilot’s license was increased from 16 to 18 years. The rule change resulted from a protracted campaign by the father of Edward Mallinckrodt. In 1932, the 16-year-old Mallinckrodt took a friend on a flight that ended in an accident costing both their lives. The young man’s parents had been unaware that their son possessed a pilot’s license, since parental consent was not then required for pilot applicants (see December 7, 1933). The elder Mallinckrodt failed to convince the Department of Commerce that the age requirement should be raised to 18. Eventually, however, he enlisted the support of CAA board member Oswald Ryan, who pushed the reform through the Authority. The change prevented 16- and 17-year-olds from carrying passengers, but they could still qualify as students and fly solo. (See July 1, 1945.)
19530418: The first turboprop airliner, the Vickers V-701 Viscount, entered scheduled passenger service with British European Airways. On July 26, 1955, Capital Airlines introduced the British-made plane on its Washington-Chicago route. The Viscount was the first turboprop-powered aircraft to be used in U.S. scheduled service.
19700418: Braniff International Airways put into operation its “Jetrail,” a monorail transporting passengers from parking lot to terminal area at Dallas’ Love Field. The three-quarter-mile trip took 3 minutes.
19900418: A Federal bankruptcy judge removed Eastern Air Lines from the control of Texas Air Chairman Frank Lorenzo and placed it in the hands of special trustee, Martin Shugrue. Eastern had lost more than $1 billion since it filed for Chapter 11 protection on March 9, 1989. On August 9, 1990, Scandinavian Airline System bought Lorenzo’s interests in Continental Airline Holdings (formerly known as Texas Air Corporation), which owned Eastern and Continental airlines. Besides stepping down as chairman of Continental Airlines Holdings, Lorenzo agreed not to work for a Continental competitor for seven years, although this stipulation was later dropped as part of a legal settlement. (See March 4, 1989, and January 18, 1991.)
19940418: DOT stated that it had urged nations that mandate routine spraying of pesticides on board aircraft while passengers are present to reconsider the requirement. The practice had been discontinued in the United States 15 years earlier due to health concerns. In May 1995, DOT hailed a recommendation against such spraying by the Facilitation Division of the International Civil Aviation Organization.
20080418: Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced measures to improve FAA safety inspection program and minimize travel disruptions caused when airlines abruptly ground aircraft. She created an external review team and tasked them with developing recommendations within 120 days on how FAA could do a better job safeguarding the skies. Team members included J. Randolph Babbitt, William McCabe, Malcolm Sparrow, Ambassador Edward Stimpson, and Carl Vogt. Peters also said FAA would begin implementing a new program to track the inspections and alert key personnel whenever a safety inspection was overdue. FAA would begin requiring senior level officials within the agency’s field offices to be accountable for accepting voluntary safety disclosures from airlines and for revising ethics rules to require a cooling-off period before FAA inspectors could work for an airline they oversaw or interacted with while employed at the agency. In addition, FAA would establish a new National Safety Inspection Review team to conduct focused and comprehensive safety reviews. (See April 2, 2008; September 5, 2008.)
20110418: The United States signed its 102nd Open Skies Agreement with Saudi Arabia that liberalized air services for airlines of both countries. (See December 3, 2010; July 11, 2011.)
20160418: The Department of Transportation (DOT) tentatively approved Norwegian Air’s request to begin service into the U.S. from a base in Ireland, ending a two-year review of the request that elicited significant opposition from U.S. carriers. DOT planned to hold a number of public information sessions prior to giving final authority. (See December 2, 2016.)
20190418: FAA grounded the fleet of Cirrus Vision SF50 light aircraft because of issues with the aircraft’s angle of attack sensor. The agency issued an emergency airworthiness directive following three incidents on Cirrus SF50 aircraft in which the stall warning and protection system or electronic stability and protection system engaged even though there was sufficient airspeed and proper angle of attack for normal flight. Before further flight, the aircraft’s angle of attack sensor had to be replaced with an improved sensor.
20220418: A federal judge in Florida declared the U.S. government’s mask mandate for air travel unlawful. (See September 10, 2021.)