This Day in FAA History: April 23rd

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19670423: A project completed on this date made Washington National Airport’s main runway the first U.S. runway for commercial operations to be grooved. Developed by the British, runway grooving proved highly successful in reducing the tendency of landing aircraft to aquaplane on wet surfaces. The grooves at National were 1/8 inch wide, 1/8 inch deep, and cut at angles to the runway centerline with a 1- inch spacing. They carried water away in what amounted to thousands of tiny gutters. On May 24, 1968, FAA announced that Chicago Midway Airport would receive the first funding allocation for runway-grooving under the Federal-aid airport program. (See August 4, 1965 and July 13, 1983.)
19690423: FAA abolished the Kenai and Cordova (Alaska) Area Offices. The Anchorage and Juneau Area Offices absorbed the territory formerly served by these offices. (See June 20, 1968 and February 27, 1970.)
19700423: John F. Leyden, newly elected president of PATCO, told the union’s members of his intention to introduce realism into the organization, “to eliminate a ‘showboat-gunboat’ approach, and to replace it with a firm and reasonable persuasion.” Nevertheless, PATCO used slowdowns as a tactic during Leyden’s tenure. (See March 25-April 10, 1970, and September 10, 1970.)
19880423: Effective this date, FAA placed a two-year ban on smoking on all domestic scheduled airline flights of two hours or less. The rule, published ten days previously, responded to legislation that had been enacted in December 1987. The same legislation also imposed a $2,000 fine for tampering with smoke detectors in airliner lavatories, and FAA’s rule required the posting of signs warning passengers of this penalty. (See August 13, 1986, and February 25, 1990.)
19950423: Effective this date, many government-owned aircraft became subject to FAA safety standards and procedures for the first time. The change resulted from legislation, enacted on October 25, 1994, that established a more restricted definition of “public aircraft.” It affected more than 5,000 planes and helicopters owned by Federal, state, and local governments and used for transporting officials or other passengers. The new statute also continued to require that FAA regulate air operations for which governments received compensation from other governmental entities. Aircraft remaining in the public-use category, and hence exempt from FAA oversight, included those used in fire fighting, search and rescue, aeronautical research, and law enforcement, as well as those operated by the armed forces or intelligence agencies.
19970423: FAA issued an airworthiness directive requiring visual inspections to detect stress and replace any faulty ball bearings in GE90 engines on five Boeing 777s. The directive followed ball bearing failures on two British 777s.
20000423: Approximately 6,500 FAA employees transferred into a new market- and performance-based compensation system closely linked to the strategic goals of the agency. The new core compensation plan replaced the general schedule grade levels with twelve pay bands linked to market pay levels. An executive compensation system became effective on the same date for senior executives. (See April 5, 2000; December 7, 2000.)
20100423: Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced that the United States and Israel had reached an Open-Skies aviation agreement that liberalized air services for the carriers of both countries. Israel became the 97th U.S. Open-Skies partner. (See March 13, 2008; May 4, 2010.)
20130423: As a result of employee furloughs due to sequestration, which began on April 21, FAA began implementing traffic management initiatives at airports and facilities around the country. FAA announced travelers could expect to see a wide range of delays that would change throughout the day depending on staffing and weather-related issues. For example, FAA experienced staffing challenges at the New York and Los Angeles ARTCCs and at the Dallas-Ft. Worth and Las Vegas TRACONs. Controllers spaced planes farther apart so they could manage traffic with smaller staffs. This resulted in delays at airports including Dallas, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. FAA also expected delays at Newark and LaGuardia because of weather and winds. On April 21, FAA attributed more than 1,200 delays in the system to staffing reductions resulting from the furlough; 1,400 additional delays resulted from weather and other factors. (See April 5, 2013 April 24, 2013.)
20140423: Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis announced the designation of the 1956 Grand Canyon TWA-United Airlines Aviation Accident Site, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ, as a national historic landmark. The designation was the first landmark to commemorate something that happened exclusively in the air. On June 30, 1956, a Trans World Airlines Super Constellation L-1049 and a United Airlines DC-7 collided in uncongested airspace 21,000 feet over the Grand Canyon in Arizona, killing all 128 people onboard the two flights. The tragedy spurred an unprecedented effort to modernize and increase safety in America’s postwar airways, culminating in the establishment of the Federal Aviation Agency. (See June 30, 1956.)
20190423: Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced FAA had awarded the first air carrier certification to a drone delivery company, Wing Aviation. The certification paved the way for Wing Aviation to begin commercial package delivery in Blacksburg, VA. Wing partnered with the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership and Virginia Tech, as one of the participants in the Department’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program.