This Day in FAA History: April 30th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.

19270430: The Aeronautics Branch announced that it had recently acquired three aircraft: two Buhl Airsters (open cockpit) and one Stinson-Detroiter (cabin plane). The Branch planned to add one Wright Travel Air (open cockpit) and one Fairchild FC-1A (cabin plane).
19390430: The National Institute of Municipal Law Officers issued the first model Airport Zoning Act, prepared with CAA assistance, to encourage enactment of such legislation by state governments. By November 1944, when a fifth revision of the Model Act was published, 12 states and one territory had passed similar acts. (See September 1, 1946.)
19460430: CAA began biweekly publication of a new Airman’s Guide, consolidating into one comprehensive volume for private and commercial pilots information formerly issued in three separate publications. This publication contained current and standard data on communications and navigational aids, airport facilities, air traffic control procedures, airspace hazards, and other information needed to plan and conduct safe flights. (See December 10, 1964.)
19650430: FAA reported that a new nongyroscopic blind flight instrument could prevent a significant number of accidents caused by disorientation, a conclusion based on evaluation in a Civil Aeromedical Research Institute aircraft.
19660430: The United States and New Zealand signed the first agreement for flight inspection of U.S. air navigation facilities by a foreign country. New Zealand’s flight inspection of U.S. navaids in American Samoa was expected to save FAA $15,000 per year.
19660430: AN FAA published a study examining the technological and economic feasibility of a V/STOL (vertical/short takeoff and landing) transport system. Prepared for the agency by the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, the report concluded that a 100-passenger V/STOL aircraft operating from small airports close to downtown city areas could play a major role in meeting increasing needs for short-distance transportation. (See April 8, 1965, and November 5, 1966.)
19680430: FAA banned Special VFR (visual flight rules) operations by fixed-wing aircraft at 33 major airports, under a rule effective this date. Special VFR operations are visual operations conducted under less than basic VFR weather minimums. The new rule continued to permit such operations in the control zones of other airports served by a radar-equipped control tower, though priority would be given to aircraft operating under instrument flight rules (IFR). The rule also continued to permit special VFR operations in airport control zones not served by radar, but only when IFR operations were not being conducted. The growing number of high performance aircraft, coupled with the continuing increase in air traffic, necessitated this reduction in special VFR operations.
19690430: FAA launched an automated airport data system for collecting, processing, and disseminating data on all civil and joint-use airports, heliports, Short Takeoff and Landing airports, and seaplane bases in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The system, capable of storing up to 137 data elements for each landing facility, would provide data for use in pilot briefings, flight planning, airspace clearance, airport planning, and aeronautical chart production.
19690430: FAA issued a report recommending ways of relieving congestion at 18 of the nation’s busiest airports. The short-range recommendations included improving traffic flow on the airfield through additional runway exits, access taxiways, holding and staging aprons, and expanded terminal aprons, and creating additional runway capacity through runway extension and grooving. Long-range recommendations included: review of noise-abatement procedures and restrictions; construction of new general aviation airports and new air carrier airports; installation of navaids; and installation of landing aids at reliever airports to attract general aviation traffic.
19700430: FAA commissioned the International Aeronautical Telecommunications Switching Center at Kansas City. This high-speed, fully automated message switching facility was the key element in the North Atlantic and Caribbean Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunications Network (AFTN), a worldwide communications system operated by members of the International Civil Aviation Organization. Some 86 communications channels, the first commissioned on March 4, 1970, connected the center directly to three U.S. networks and to more than 100 locations in 17 other countries. The center speeded the flow and improved the accuracy of international aeronautical information by eliminating all other intermediate relay points.
19700430: An FAA study reported that adherence to basic preflight procedures could reduce general aviation accidents by as much as 14 percent. The study was based on data about the 4,968 general aviation accidents in 1968 and on responses to a pilot survey. The results indicated that faulty preflight procedures could be linked to 697 accidents, of which 184 were fatal. Of these 184 fatal accidents, the largest number (81) resulted from flying under Visual Flight Rules into bad weather, and the next highest number (42) from impairment by alcohol. Of the non-fatal accidents caused by poor preflight procedures, the largest number (132) was due to fuel exhaustion. Eighty-two percent of pilots involved in accidents linked to preflight procedures had not filed a flight plan.
19730430: Federal Express began flight operations from its base at Memphis, Tenn., offering door-to-door package delivery by air express, a popular service that soon inspired immitators. The company expanded rapidly as airline deregulation began in the late 1970s, and it grew even more when it acquired the Flying Tiger Line on January 31, 1989.
19730430: FAA World reported that the last airway light beacon, on Whitewater Hill near Palm Beach, Calif., had been decommissioned. This type of beacon had reached its peak in 1946, when 2,112 were in service. Their number declined during the 1950s, but a few had remained to mark obstructions or passes. (See December 7, 1926.)
19750430: The Secretary’s Task Force on the FAA Safety Mission (see January 28, 1975) submitted its report. The Task Force commended FAA for having reestablished a no-fault aviation safety reporting program (see April 8, 1975), and made recommendations including
* That FAA should continue to rely on industry for safety compliance inspections required in the certification process, but should strengthen its technical staff and improve its ability to monitor the performance of those delegated safety responsibilities. In addition, FAA should insist on more comprehensive design reviews in major aircraft and engine certification.
* That FAA should conduct audits in cooperation with the National Transportation Safety Board to ensure that problems cited by NTSB were worked out satisfactorily.
* That FAA’s rulemaking process, judged too slow, should be expedited by means of a priority system; the agency should also improve the clarity of the rules themselves and speed up their legal review.
* That FAA should take steps, including use of flight data monitoring systems, to improve aircrew performance.
* That air traffic controllers should give more attention to preventing collision with the ground, and that a standing group of FAA and aviation community representatives should review air traffic control procedures with the aim of increasing clarity and standardization.
* That FAA should continue as part of the Department of Transportation, but should not be subject to undue supervision by the Office of the Secretary.
* That an intensive review should be made of the FAA headquarters organization with the object of reducing the number of elements reporting to the Administrator. The task force recommended also that (1) a similar study be made of the FAA regional organization, with a view to consolidating regional functions and reducing the regions in number, and (2) that regional Engineering and Manufacturing (E & M) personnel engaged in aircraft certification be transferred from the regions to one or more E & M technical field centers that would report to FAA Headquarters at a level just below the Administrator.
* That FAA should strengthen its long-range research and development activity and establish one or more technical advisory committees.
19770430: FAA set up a unique transport unit of the Miami General Aviation District Office to provide greater oversight of non-certificated air cargo operations concentrated in the northwest corner of Miami airport. Recent accidents had given rise to FAA concerns about the safety of these operators of private-carriage cargo aircraft for lease.
19800430: Effective this date, FAA required a triennial aircraft registration report. Aircraft certificate holders were to submit the report whenever three years elapsed since the Registry received information indicating continued registration eligibility. The procedure was less burensome to the public than an earlier annual report requirement (see March 7, 1970).
19870430: Completion of a construction project at the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center early this month marked the conclusion of a nationwide ARTCC expansion program. (See September 26, 1984).
19920430: President Bush signed an order directing Federal agencies to modify their procedures in order to facilitate the privatization of airports and other public assets built with Federal assistance.
19920430: Rioting in the Los Angeles area forced FAA to temporarily close its towers at Santa Monica, Torrance, and Hawthorne, as well as the flight service station at Hawthorne. The disorders also hampered operations at Los Angeles International, where smoke from burning buildings created Instrument Flight Rules conditions.
20040430: President George W. Bush signed legislation into law renaming the two downtown office buildings that housed FAA after the inventors of powered, sustained, controlled flight, Orville and Wilbur Wright. The measure, approved by Congress earlier in the year, renamed the agency’s Federal Building 10-A at 800 Independence Ave., SW, the Orville Wright Federal Building, and Federal Building 10-B at 600 Independence Ave., SW, as the Wilbur Wright Federal Building. July 8, FAA headquarters buildings were officially renamed the Orville and Wilbur Wright buildings.
20070430: FAA awarded a production certificate to Eclipse Aviation for the Eclipse 500, one of the first very light jets to be certified. (See July 27, 2006.)
20070430: The precision runway monitoring system became operational at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. The system allowed controllers to land planes almost simultaneously on parallel runways, saving time and simplifying operations.
20100430: FAA changed the name of its bimonthly safety magazine for the general aviation community from FAA Aviation News to FAA Safety Briefing beginning with the March/April 2010 issue. FAA Aviation News started in 1961 as a newsletter and expanded to a magazine format in 1962. In 1976, it sharpened its focus on general aviation.
20120430: Delta Airlines announced it had agreed to purchase the ConocoPhillips refinery in Trainer, PA, for $150 million. Delta expected to decrease annual fuel expenses by $300 million once the refinery was retrofitted and reopened. Delta was the first airline to run its own refinery.
20130430: FAA and other U.S. government agencies completed the third and final operational field test in a two-year, $8 million program to study the physical and electromagnetic interference between radar systems and wind turbine farms, and to identify mitigation techniques to address potential issues. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory analyzed data from the third interagency field test and evaluation of wind turbine-radar to help develop long-term mitigation techniques. Interference with radar had been a safety concern for both FAA and the military, as well as a key roadblock to developers of new wind turbine farms, both in the U.S. and abroad.
20140430: FAA issued a ground stop, stopping takeoffs at Southern California airports as a result of a problem with its en route automation modernization (ERAM) computer system at the Los Angeles air route traffic control center (ARTCC). The ground stop, lasting approximately one hour, led to the cancellation or delay of hundreds of flights. On May 5, both the Department of Defense (DOD) and FAA said a U2 plane in the area created the computer problem. The ERAM system interpreted the U2 flight, flying at about 60,000 feet, as a more typical low-altitude operation, and began processing it for a route below 10,000 feet. The extensive number of routings that would have been required to de-conflict the aircraft with lower-altitude flights used a large amount of available memory and interrupted the computer’s other flight-processing functions. FAA subsequently increased the amount of flight-processing memory on the computer system. (See June 18, 2012; April 30, 2015.)
20150430: Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced the completion of the en route automation modernization (ERAM) program. The first ERAM system went online at the Salt Lake City air route traffic control center (ARTCC) in March 2012, and the last system went online in March 2015 at the New York ARTCC. ERAM used nearly two million lines of computer code to process critical data for controllers, including aircraft identity, altitude, speed, and flight path. The system almost doubled the number of flights that could be tracked and displayed to controllers. (See April 30, 2014.)
20190430: Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) announced the creation of a Blue Ribbon Task Force on UAS Mitigation at Airports comprised of representatives from associations representing airports and unmanned aircraft systems to address the challenge of drone incursions at U.S. airports. Former FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Deborah Flint, CEO of Los Angeles World Airports, served as the task force co-chairs. The task force hoped to inform UAS mitigation efforts at other facilities, including landmarks, stadiums, prisons, and military bases.
20200430: To ensure the continuity of air ambulance operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, FAA granted an exemption to the timeframes for completing recurrent training and testing requirements for certain air ambulance personnel. Operators had to fulfill specific requirements to exercise the relief offered in the exemption.
20210430: FAA and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) released the first in a series of joint videos to share lessons learned during the COVID-19 crisis. The five episode executive video series covered resilient leadership, safety oversight, emerging technology, risk-based decision-making and women in aviation. The videos presented lessons learned to benefit both agencies as well as the international aviation community. It is one of several collaborations under a longstanding partnership between FAA and the CAAS.