This Day in FAA History: May 1st

Full FAA Chronology at this link.
19280501: Pitcairn Aviation began operations along the Atlantic seaboard as a contract mail-hauler. The airline inaugurated passenger operations between New York and Washington on August 18, 1930, under the name Eastern Air Transport. The growing carrier acquired New York Airways in 1931 and Luddington Air Lines in 1933, and later took the name Eastern Air Lines in 1934. Eastern subsequently absorbed Colonial Airlines in 1956 and Mackey Air Lines in 1967.
19390501: The Civil Aeronautics Authority completed a $7 million airways modernization and improvement program begun July 1, 1937. The Federal Airways System now covered 25,500 miles and included a total of 231 radio range stations, 100 ultra-high-frequency cone-of-silence markers, and 21 ultrahigh-frequency fan markers. The program also involved modernization of all the full-power radio ranges to permit simultaneous voice and range broadcasts. (See July 1, 1937.)
19410501: CAA announced that six new airports in Alaska currently under construction or scheduled to begin would each have at least one usable runway by the following winter. The new airports (at Juneau, Cordova, Boundary, Big Delta, West Ruby, and Nome) were part of the Development of Landing Areas for National Defense program (see October 9, 1940). They would double Alaska’s available airport facilities and radio aids to flying.
19410501: After successful tests during the previous year, CAA’s first ultra-high-frequency radio range system opened for scheduled airline use on the New York-Chicago airway. The airway was the first link in the eventual conversion of the entire 35,000 miles of Federal airways from intermediate to ultra-high frequencies. U.S. involvement in World War II, however, delayed immediate expansion of the system because the Army took over all available equipment for these frequencies. In 1944, incorporating wartime radio advances, CAA began testing an improved, static-free, very high frequency omnidirectional radio range (VOR) at its Experimental Station in Indianapolis. Using the new system, a pilot could remain on course by watching a dial on his instrument panel instead of listening to the signal from the four-course aural range. The new range also sent signals in all directions from the station, instead of merely four courses as with the low frequency range. (See Calendar Year 1947.)
19440501: In United States v. Drumm, a U.S. District Court found that Andrew D. Drumm, Jr., had repeatedly violated Parts 60.30 and 60.31 of the Civil Air Regulations (CARs) by piloting a civil aircraft without a valid pilot certificate and flying an aircraft lacking an airworthiness certificate. Drumm maintained that the CARs did not apply to him since he did not fly on civil airways or over restricted areas. He further contended that the Civil Aeronautics Board had exceeded its statutory authority by promulgating Parts 60.30 and 60.31. The judge found these arguments without merit, upholding Federal authority to certificate every pilot and aircraft using U.S. airspace.
19480501: The Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and CAA officially adopted a revised edition of an April 1, 1946, Army-Navy-Civil (ANC) Manual on air traffic control procedures designed to standardize ATC procedures.
19520501: The first tourist class air service over the North Atlantic began, in accordance with an agreement between eleven International Air Transport Association member airlines that had been announced on December 5 of the previous year.
19540501: The Air Coordinating Committee submitted its study on Civil Air Policy in response to a Presidential request of September 23, 1953, for a comprehensive review of U.S. policies in the primary areas of aviation interest in consultation with appropriate industry, local government, and private aviation groups. The committee’s report covered a variety of topics and recommended the development of a single national common civil-military system of air navigation and air traffic control. On May 26, 1954, the President approved the report “as a guide in the future consideration of questions related to the subject of civil aviation and in making appropriate recommendations to Congress.”
19590501: Installation of an experimental runway barrier for commercial aircraft began at FAA’s National Aviation Facilities Experimental Center near Atlantic City. Aimed at developing an effective barrier for civil aircraft in case of overruns on landings or takeoffs, the program–the first to be sponsored by the Federal government–called for a six-month evaluation of the arresting device.
19610501: The first series of aircraft hijackings in the U.S. began when a passenger on a flight to Key West, Fla., forced the pilot to fly to Cuba. Four other “skyjacking” incidents took place before the end of Aug. In concert with other agencies, FAA actively supported congressional efforts to remedy a lack of criminal laws applicable to these and other threats to air safety. On September 5, President Kennedy signed Public Law 87-197, an amendment to the Federal Aviation Act of 1958. The law prescribed death or imprisonment for not less than 20 years for interference with aircrew members or flight attendants in the performance of their duties. Pertinent parts of the U.S. Code were made applicable to certain other crimes aboard aircraft in flight. To help enforce the act, a special corps of FAA safety inspectors were trained for duty aboard airline flights (see August 10, 1961).
19630501: Effective this date, FAA revised Part 45 of the Civil Air Regulations to require commercial operators of large aircraft to file financial statements and to demonstrate their financial fitness. The new requirement grew from the agency’s belief that an operator suffering severe financial difficulties might tend to relax safety standards. Recent accidents involving supplemental air carriers operating had strengthed this belief (see November 8, 1961, and July 10, 1962).
19630501: A year-long VOR maintenance study recommended by Project Searchlight (see August 1, 1960) got underway to determine whether VOR outage time occasioned by routine periodic maintenance work could be reduced without impairing the reliability of VOR service to users. The study showed that the equivalent of 135 personnel, or $1,120,000 annually, could be saved by using a revised maintenance schedule.
19650501: FAA completed transfer of the Europe, Africa, and Middle East Region headquarters from London to Brussels. At the same time, the agency consolidated various elements that had been located in Washington, D.C., New York, and Paris with the regional headquarters group. (See April 1, 1963.)
19670501: Effective this date, FAA dropped its requirement that applicants under 21 years of age have parental or guardian consent for student pilot certificates. The 16-year minimum age for a student pilot’s license remained unchanged. (See April 18, 1939, and July 1, 1945.)
19720501: New crashworthiness and passenger evacuation standards for transport category aircraft became effective this date. The action upgraded requirements in areas that included: seats, berths, safety belts, and harnesses; stowage compartments; items in the passenger or crew compartments that might cause injury in turbulence or interfere with evacuation; cabin interior fire protection; emergency evacuation procedures; emergency exits (their arrangement, marking, lighting, and access); emergency lighting; briefing passengers before takeoff; and structural design to minimize fire hazard due to fuel spillage in the event of partial or complete failure of the landing gear. (See September 20, 1967, and June 26, 1978.)
19830501: A hijacker succeeded in reaching Havana by locking himself in a lavatory during an airline flight and issuing notes threatening to blow up the aircraft. The incident began a renewed upsurge of hijackings to Cuba, many perpetuated by Mariel boat lift refugees (see July 22, 1980). By September 22, hijackers had diverted 10 additional airliners to Cuba, prompting FAA to increase security measures at airports in selected areas. Hijackings to Cuba began to decline in the last quarter of 1983, although three such diversions took place in 1984. No hijackers succeeded in reaching Cuba from the U.S. during 1985 or 1986.
19890501: FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) concluded their first labor agreement. (Signing on behalf of the union was R. Steve Bell, who had been elected president in 1988.) Negotiators had reached a tentative agreement in January, and union members ratified the contract on April 18. (See June 19, 1987, and August 1, 1993.)
19910501: A majority of those aviation safety inspectors casting ballots voted for representation by the Professional Airways Systems Specialists, known as PASS (see December 31, 1981). On May 10, PASS was certified as the bargaining agent for this previously non-union group of 1,913 FAA employees.
20000501: FAA announced it had begun use of electronic air/ground communication services for aircraft operating over the Atlantic Ocean. The same system had been operating for aircraft flying over Pacific Ocean airspace for more than a year. FAA’s New York Air Route Traffic Control Center had begun initial operations, in March, of the multi-sector oceanic data link system – technology that provided a means for air traffic controllers to have two-way electronic communications with aircraft equipped with data link. This system eliminated the need for voice communication between data link-equipped aircraft and air traffic controllers, improving the reliability and timeliness of message delivery. In conjunction with aircraft equipped with the future air navigation system – an international standard for avionics that are compliant with oceanic data link) – the system provided a means to check automatically pending clearances for conflicts while allowing the flight crews to load flight clearances they had received into the aircraft’s flight management system.
20030501: FAA awarded a Local Area Augmentation System (LAAS) contract to Honeywell International, Inc. A satellite navigation landing system, LAAS would enable pilots to guide planes safely into busy airports in bad weather. It also would significantly increase the accuracy, availability, continuity and integrity of the information received from the global positioning system (GPS) constellation of satellites to enhance the safety and efficiency of air travel. The contract was to unfold in three phases. The first phase, valued at $16.7 million, provided for the software and hardware design of the category I LAAS. Phases 2 and 3 contract options, which totaled an additional $340 million, landing provided a level of service in poor weather conditions down to a ceiling of 200 feet and visibility of one-half mile. (See August 13, 1999.)
20030501: Effective this date, FAA revised the applicability of certain collision avoidance system requirements for airplanes. The rules previously in place were based on passenger seating configuration and, therefore, excluded all-cargo airplanes. Intended to reduce the risk of a mid-air collision involving a cargo airplane, this final rule would use airplane weight and performance characteristics as the basis for collision avoidance system requirements. Specifically, it would apply to cargo airplanes weighing more than 33,000 pounds maximum certificated takeoff weight.
20170501: The BasicMed rule became effective, providing general aviation pilots an alternative to FAA’s medical qualification process for third class medical certificates. General aviation pilots may take advantage of the regulatory relief in the BasicMed rule or opt to continue to use their FAA medical certificate. Under BasicMed, a pilot was required to complete a medical education course every two years, undergo a medical examination every four years, and comply with aircraft and operating restrictions. For example, pilots using BasicMed could not operate an aircraft with more than six people onboard and the aircraft must not weigh more than 6,000 pounds.
20230501: FAA activated 169 new routes along the East Coast that were more direct, saving passengers time and airline fuel consumption and increasing safety. The change helped prevent delays by giving the agency more capacity to direct traffic to specific routes based on the aircraft’s destination.