This Day in FAA History: June 24th

Full FAA Chronology at this link.
19470624: A reported sighting of “flying saucers” near Mt. Ranier, Wash., began widespread interest in unidentified flying objects (UFOs) among the American public. In 1948, the Air Force began gathering data on UFO reports under its Project Blue Book. In 1969, a study sponsored by the Air Force rejected the theory that UFOs were extraterrestial visitors, and Blue Book was discontinued on December 17 of that year.
19480624: The Soviet Union stopped rail and road traffic between Berlin and the West. The Western Powers began airlifting vital supplies to the beleaguered city. The following month, at the request of the Air Force, CAA dispatched an initial group of 20 volunteer air traffic controllers to Frankfurt and Berlin for duty in the airlift operation. CAA also provided VHF air navigation aids. The Berlin blockade was officially lifted on May 12, 1949.
19720624: Responsibility for the civil administration of Wake Island was transferred from FAA to the Air Force (see September 4, 1962). This action followed a review of FAA’s role on this island, once an important fueling stop for civil and military aircraft crossing the Pacific. With the advent of long-range jet aircraft, civil use of the island’s facilities decreased and the Air Force became the principal user. In addition to its civil administration responsibilities on Wake, FAA had maintained the airport, airport traffic control tower, the international flight service station, and various air navigational aids. (After the transfer FAA continued to maintain the air navigation facilities on Wake and provide air traffic control services, until June 30, 1973.)
19750624: An Eastern Air Lines 727 crashed into approach lights while attempting to land during a thunderstorm at New York’s Kennedy airport, causing fatal injuries to 113 of the 124 persons aboard. The National Transportation Safety Board’s report stated that the crew probably relied too much on visual clues rather than instruments in assessing their altitude, but adverse winds may have been too strong for a successful approach even if they had avoided this error. The Board criticized air traffic control personnel for continued use of the runway after reports of wind shear from several incoming pilots.
Wind shear, a sudden change in wind speed and/or direction, may be produced by thunderstorms or even cloud formations that appear harmless. Large gust fronts can last for more than an hour and extend for several miles. In studying the Kennedy crash, however, the University of Chicago’s Dr. Theodore Fujita concluded that several separate cells of intense downdrafts had occurred in the vicinity of the 727’s approach path. He termed such phenomena “downbursts,” and later coined the term “microburst” to describe a small downburst (see May 15-August 13, 1982).
The Kennedy accident spurred FAA’s efforts to develop wind shear detection equipment for use both in the cockpit and on the ground, as well as improved methods for pilots to cope with the hazard. The agency tested measuring devices, and in November 1976 began a six-month test of forecasting techniques in cooperation with the National Weather Service. In 1977, FAA began operational testing of a ground-based wind shear detection system called the Surface Wind Monitoring System (SWIMS), later renamed the Low Level Wind Shear Alert System (see September 1978).
20040624: Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta released Capacity Needs in the National Airspace System: An Analysis of Airport and Metropolitan Area Demand and Operational Capacity in the Future, predicting which airports and communities would need to expand their capacity by the year 2020. The capacity study was the first of its kind to look at current air travel patterns, economic and population trends, current air service, and current capacity. The associated report revealed that 23 of the nation’s fastest growing airports needed to add capacity to accommodate air traffic growth over the next two decades.
20100624: FAA announced contracts with Boeing, General Electric, Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney, and Rolls-Royce-North America to develop and demonstrate technologies to reduce commercial jet fuel consumption, emissions, and noise. The contracts, part of the FAA’s Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise (CLEEN) program, were expected to total $125 million over the five-year span of the program. Under a cost sharing arrangement, the companies would match or exceed the FAA’s contribution, bringing the overall value of the program to more than $250 million.
20100624: FAA announced that controllers at the Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center and at the Juneau Air Traffic Control Tower were using ADS-B, which is critical in Juneau because, like in the Gulf of Mexico, there was no radar coverage. (See April 26, 2010; October 25, 2010.)
20140624: A strike by one of France’s air traffic controller unions, UNSA-INCA, forced the cancellation of flights throughout Europe. The controllers’ union SNCTA did not join in the strike, which was scheduled to last through June 29. The striking union accused the French government of a lack of investment in air traffic control infrastructure and urged modernization of the system.
20160624: Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, joined by representatives from the FAA, National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), American Airlines, celebrated the official opening of a new airspace technology demonstration (ATD-2) laboratory at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. This laboratory was part of a five-year test project aimed to streamline the arrival and departure of aircraft and improve surface operations to increase safety and efficiency and reduce fuel use in the nation’s aviation system.
20210624: DOT renewed the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee through June 2023. The committee, established in 1984, advised DOT and FAA on the commercial space transportation industry.