This Day in FAA History: April 29th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19300429: The Watres Act further amended the Air Mail Act of 1925 (see May 17, 1928), replacing the weight basis for computing compensation to air carriers with a space-mile formula. The new act gave the Postmaster General very broad regulatory control over route locations, route consolidations and extensions, contract bidding conditions, service conditions, equipment and personnel accounts, and compensation. (See May 19, 1930.)
19370429: The Commerce Department announced a new plan of organization for the Bureau of Air Commerce. The reorganization placed all activities under the Director of Air Commerce, assisted by an Assistant Director, with supervision over seven principal divisions: Airways Engineering; Airways Operation; Safety and Planning; Administrative; Information and Statistics; Certificate and Inspection; and Regulation and Enforcement. A Policy Board composed of top Bureau officials and a Technical Assistant and an Advisory Board of representatives of aviation interests assisted the Director. A second Assistant Director position was added during fiscal 1938.
19420429: Reflecting wartime requirements, an amendment to the Civil Aeronautics Act increased the maximum permissible monthly number of flying hours of airline pilots to 100. The former monthly limit for had been 85 hours (see June 12, 1934). This lower maximum was later reinstated by congressional action on July 25, 1947.
19650429: FAA established an Office of Audit, which was under the administrative direction of the Associate Administrator for Administration and reported directly to the FAA Administrator on substantive matters. The rapid evolution of the audit function from division to staff to office within a period of seven months reflected the growing emphasis placed by FAA on cost reduction and financial management.
19670429: President Johnson announced that the U.S. supersonic transport (SST) development program would proceed into the prototype development phase (Phase III). Johnson based his decision on the recommendations of the President’s Advisory Committee on Supersonic Transport. On May 1, 1967, the date of the President’s formal approval, FAA, Boeing, and General Electric signed the Phase III contracts retroactive to January 1, 1967, which called for the construction of two identical variable, sweep-wing SST prototypes. (See February 6 and June 5, 1967.)
19710429: FAA established four transcontinental high-altitude area navigation routes between New York City and Los Angeles and Oakland, Calif. (See October 1, 1969, and March 6, 1972.)
19710429: FAA established a V/STOL (vertical/short takeoff and landing) Special Projects Office under the Associate Administrator for Engineering and Development to stimulate and encourage the private development of economically viable V/STOL systems and provide a focal point for all of FAA’s V/STOL development activities. The new office would formulate and maintain a comprehensive agency V/STOL development plan. (See September 23, 1968, September 17, 1971, and July 26, 1972.)
19850429: Astronauts aboard the space shuttle Challenger placed the Northern Utah Satellite (NUSAT) in orbit. The 105 lb. aluminum polyhedron satellite was an experiment aimed at developing a new means of calibrating the vertical tilt of FAA beacon radar antennas. Before reentering the atmosphere on December 15, 1986, NUSAT transmitted important information on the radar signal environment as perceived from low earth orbit. The project was accomplished by a volunteer coalition of FAA, NASA, Utah’s Weber State College, and numerous aerospace companies.
19860429: Direct airline service between the United States and the Soviet Union resumed after an interruption of over four years (see December 29, 1981). The flights resulted from an agreement announced soon after the November 1985 summit meeting of President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikail Gorbachev. (See February 16, 1990.)
20100429: An airline consumer protection rule went into effect. Under the new rule, U.S. airlines operating domestic flights could not permit an aircraft to remain on the tarmac at large and medium hub airports for more than three hours without deplaning passengers, with exceptions allowed only for safety or security reasons or if air traffic control advises the pilot in command that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations. U.S. carriers operating international flights departing from or arriving in the United States were required to specify, in advance, their own time limits for deplaning passengers, with the same exceptions applicable. Carriers were also required to provide adequate food and drinking water for passengers within two hours of the aircraft being delayed on the tarmac and to maintain operable lavatories and, if necessary, provide medical attention. In addition, the rule
* Prohibited the largest U.S. airlines from scheduling chronically delayed flights;
* Required U.S. airlines to designate an airline employee to monitor the effects of flight delays and cancellations, respond in a timely and substantive fashion to consumer complaints, and provide information to consumers on where to file complaints;
* Required U.S. airlines to adopt customer service plans and audit their own compliance with their plans; and
* Prohibited U.S. airlines from retroactively applying material changes to their contracts of carriage that could have a negative impact on consumers who already had purchased tickets. (See August 11, 2009; June 2, 2010.)
20130429: President Barrack Obama nominated Charlotte, NC, Mayor Anthony Foxx to succeed Ray LaHood as Transportation Secretary. (See January 29, 2013; May 22, 2013.)
20130429: Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo made its first powered flight. It broke the sound barrier in a test over the Mojave Desert. The flight lasted 10 minutes. It made its second powered flight on September 5. (See June 7, 2012; July 31, 2013; January 10, 2014.)
20200429: The Department of Transportation issued a notice to all essential air service (EAS) air carriers that it would authorize payment of 50 percent of the contracted per-flight subsidy for flights not being operated because of the pandemic as long as the EAS air carriers serving a community in the continental United States, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico completed at least one round trip flight a day, six days a week, for the EAS community, and an EAS air carrier serving a community in Alaska completed at least 50 percent of its weekly schedule for that EAS community. In addition, the Department would not initiate enforcement action against EAS air carriers for failing to comply with the statutory level-of-service requirements in situations where the noncompliance took place during the effective period of the notice, the significant reduction in passenger demand due to the COVID-19 public health emergency was the cause of the noncompliance, the EAS air carrier complied with the level-of-service requirements provided in the Notice, and the eligible communities did not object to the change in service levels. The plan applied to all 160 communities in the United States and Puerto Rico that received EAS subsidized service, but it did not apply to the 8 communities receiving alternate EAS grants. The action was retroactive to March 1, 2020, and was in effect through June 30, 2020; later extended through September 30, 2020. On September 21, the deadline was extended again, this time through December 31, 2020.