This Day in FAA History: May 16th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.
19280516: Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) came into being. Backed by powerful financial groups that allied manufacturers with operating airlines, TAT was unusual for its time in giving priority to passenger service rather than mail. The airline was popularly known as the “Lindbergh Line” because of its association with the famous aviator. (See July 7, 1929, and July 19, 1930.)
19320516: The official Air Commerce Bulletin published a rule providing for a new scheduled air transport pilot rating. Those receiving the rating had to demonstrate their ability to use airway navigation aids and to fly specified manuevers guided entirely by instruments. Effective January 1, 1933, the Aeronautics Branch required the new rating for all pilots on scheduled interstate passenger service. To meet this deadline, 330 pilots obtained the rating by the end of 1932. Fifty years later, on December 31, 1982, the estimated number of certificated airline transport pilots was 73,741.
19400516: President Roosevelt called for the production of 50,000 airplanes a year. Since there were only about 30,000 pilots in the country, CAA subsequently announced that it would expand the Civilian Pilot Training Program to provide pilots for the increased number of planes. In 1940, the CPTP graduated 9,885 pilots, and in the 18 months before the United States entered the war, the number of pilots in the country rose from 31,000 to over 100,000, primarily throught the CPTP. (See June 27, 1939, and December 12, 1941.)
19420516: Congress enacted legislation aimed at regulating air freight forwarders. The act prohibited such forwarders from establishing, or the Civil Aeronautics Board from approving, joint rates with common carriers subject to the Interstate Commerce Act.
19520516: The Airport Commission forwarded its report, The Airport and Its Neighbors, to the President. Calling for greater Federal and local support of airport development, the report made 25 specific recommendations for improvements, including integrated municipal and airport planning, effective zoning laws, positive air traffic control, Federal certification of airports, preferential runways and flight patterns, and development of helicopters for civil use.
19620516: In accordance with the recommendations of Project Searchlight (see August 1, 1960), the Aviation Facilities Service ceased to exist. FAA reorganized the service’s diverse component parts by function, combining them with other organizational units to form two new specialized services. The new Installation and Materiel Service had responsibility for the acquisition, construction, and installation of air navigation, air traffic control, and aeronautical communication facilities, whether for the National Airspace System, international programs, or foreign governments. The service was also responsible for procurement and management of real and personal property, transportation, and procurement of services in support of all agency programs. The new Systems Maintenance Service received the mission of maintaining facilities and equipment for air traffic control, air navigation, and aeronautical communications.
19620516: FAA formally established a new Office of Policy Development with the mission of developing broad policy and objectives and the plans required to carry them out. On the same day, FAA created an Office of Compliance and Security in an action that consolidated these two functions organizationally. Previously, compliance matters had been handled by a staff assistant to the Deputy Administrator (later Associate Administrator) for Administration, and security matters were the concern of a division in the Office of Personnel and Training. The new office had the mission of assuring the highest possible standards of ethical, trustworthy, and nondiscriminatory conduct among employees, the physical security of information and property, and the conduct of investigations to meet the agency’s needs. (See November 18, 1969.)
19710516: Gene D. Sims became the first woman to serve as chief of an FAA airport traffic control tower, taking over supervision of the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Airport tower upon its commissioning. Sims, who had joined FAA in 1956,had served as a crew chief at the Akron-Canton (Ohio) Airport tower since 1962.
19720516: President Nixon signed into law the Air Traffic Controllers Career Program Act (Public Law 92-297). The act, an outgrowth of a Corson Committee recommendation (see January 29, 1970), authorized controllers to retire after 25 years of active duty, or at age 50 if they had 20 years of active service. The new law also established a mandatory age for retirement at 56, with exemptions at the discretion of the Secretary of Transportation up to age 61. (Normal voluntary retirement for Federal employees came at age 55 after 30 years service, or at age 60 after 20 years; mandatory retirement came at age 70.) The act also provided for a “second career program” of up to two years of training at government expense for controllers who had to leave traffic control work because of medical or proficiency disqualification. The act became effective on August 14 and was implemented by FAA on September 8.
19770516: A Sikorsky S-61L helicopter parked atop New York’s Pan Am Building rolled on its side due to collapse of a landing gear. Rotating blades killed four boarding passengers, and one pedestrian on a street below died when struck by a separated blade portion. Originally opened in 1965, the controversial heliport had closed in February 1968 because of a contract dispute, then reopened on February 1, 1977. The facility closed permanently after the accident.
19770516: Regulations regarding airline transportation of disabled passengers went into effect after several years of discussion and debate. Noting increasing complaints on the subject, CAB had in 1971 referred the issue to FAA for determination of relevant safety parameters. After a series of hearings, FAA had in July 1974 proposed a comprehensive, detailed set of safety regulations. Public reaction was strongly negative, largly because many believed that the proposed rules placed unfair restrictions on disabled travelers.
Guided by research and tests by the Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI), FAA adopted a more flexible approach in its March 1977 rule. The agency ordered each air carrier to develop its own set of procedures, appropriate to its particular aircraft and operations. FAA would then review these procedures and direct any changes needed for safety or the public interest. Airlines were prohibited from denying passage to anyone who met the criteria in its FAA-approved plan. In addition, the new rule specifically prohibited airlines from barring a passenger because of his or her inability to sit up in an airline seat, and required individual briefings on evacuation procedures for all disabled persons before takeoff. (See March 2, 1990.)
FAA had originally proposed to require that canes and crutches be readily available for use during evacuation. The agency decided against this, however, citing CAMI research indicating that canes and crutches might actually hamper evacuation and might puncture inflatable evacuation slides. (See November 20, 1981.)
19800516: A U.S. district court decision put FAA’s medical exemption system on temporary hold by enjoining the agency from issuing medical certificates to airmen with a history of any of nine “absolutely disqualifying conditions,” including myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, or alcoholism. Henceforth, FAA could issue medical exemptions to airmen with a history of these disqualifying conditions only after “a proper finding that such an exemption was in the public interest.” In addition, the court enjoined the Federal Air Surgeon from placing any functional limitation on any medical certificate on the grounds that the authority to do this had not been properly delegated to this official from the FAA Administrator.
The decision arose from a suit by Delta Airlines, which opposed FAA’s policy of issuing certificates with functional limitations to pilots who had suffered heart attacks. This practice often enabled such pilots to serve as flight engineers, and thus ran counter to Delta’s policy that flight engineers must possess a first class medical certificate. By mid-1982, FAA had adopted regulatory language for medical exemptions that satisfied the public-interest criteria of the court and allowed the process of granting pilot medical exemptions to continue.
19860516: FAA published a rule upgrading fire safety standards for cargo or baggage compartments in future transport category aircraft by establishing new fire test requirements. The regulation also limited the volume of Class D compartments (those not readily accessible to crewmembers or equipped with built-in fire extinguishers, but instead designed to control fire by restricting oxygen). The rule stemmed from a testing project undertaken at the FAA Technical Center in the wake of a Saudi Arabian in-flight fire (see August 19, 1980) and from a rulemaking proposal published in August 1984. (See February 10, 1989.)
19960516: FAA unveiled the findings of the Challenge 2000 project, a review of the agency’s regulation and certification capabilities in light of the rapid changes taking place in aviation. The agency had announced the project on July 13, 1995, and during the following month had selected Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Inc. to conduct the review. The project report included recommendations that FAA’s Regulation and Certification organization: shift its resources to focus more on industry groups most in need of oversight; revise its organizational structure; redesign and expedite the rulemaking process; and create new Centers of Excellence as sources of expertise (see October 1992).
20000516: FAA announced it had recently completed the final installation and acceptance of innovative air surveillance radar technology that would enhance air safety through improved position information and weather detection. The air route surveillance radar (ARSR-4) replaced obsolete radar with long-range, three-dimensional radar providing aircraft position information to FAA, USAF, Navy, and Customs Service. The new technology could detect a one-square-meter object out to 250 nautical miles, a 50 nautical mile increase over previous long-range radar models. The ARSR-4 also provided weather data to both FAA and National Weather Service. The program consisted of 43 operational systems deployed around the periphery of the continental United States as well as in Guam, Hawaii, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The 44th system was used for support at the FAA Academy at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City. The twelve-year FAA/Department of Defense (DoD) ARSR-4 program began with a contract award in 1988 to Northrop Grumman. FAA commissioned the first system April 1996 in Tamiami, Florida. Total program costs were $800 million, half of which DoD paid.
20060516: Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport commissioned its fifth runway and dedicated its new 396 foot air traffic control tower.
20070516: FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and her counterparts from Canada and Mexico signed a formal agreement establishing a cooperative NextGen strategy group. The agreement encouraged all three countries to share information regarding strategic roadmaps, technologies, and environmental metrics, as well as to coordinate harmonization efforts between North America and the International Civil Aviation Organization. (See July 18, 2006; June 13, 2007.)