Monday, January 9, 1961:The Federal Aviation Agency released a report on the commercial supersonic transport (SST), prepared by FAA with the assistance of DOD and NASA. The report concluded that a Mach 3 (2,000 m.p.h.) transport could and should be built by U.S. industry, with governmental financial support limited to demonstrated needs. Although he had been unable to persuade the outgoing Eisenhower Administration to request funds for SST development, Administrator Quesada recommended prompt and careful consideration of the immediate establishment of such a program. (See June 30, 1960, and July 24, 1961.)
Monday, January 9, 1961:Pursuant to Executive Order 10902, signed on this date, the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization Preparedness issued its Order No. 3 charging the FAA Administrator with preparation for emergency management of the nation’s civil airports and civil aviation operating facilities. On February 16, 1962, Executive Order 11003 continued and extended this responsibility by directing the Administrator to prepare national emergency plans and preparedness programs for the nation’s civil airports, civil aviation operating facilities and services, and civil aircraft other than air carriers.
Friday, January 13, 1961:An FAA directive gave the Bureau of Research and Development full responsibility for the improvement and modification of air navigation aids, communications, and related equipment used in the Federal airways system. While continuing to procure, install, and maintain such facilities, the Bureau of Facilities and Materiel, which had previously shared or performed certain R&D functions, would henceforth provide only required “immediate” engineering support.
Monday, January 16, 1961:FAA introduced a new Automatic Data Interchange System (ADIS), a multi-point high-speed teletypewriter network capable of transmitting weather data at 850 words per minute. The new network connected interchange centers located at Cleveland, Atlanta, Fort Worth, Kansas City, and San Francisco that served five national “weather areas.” The new high-speed circuit would be used for Service A, the most complex of FAA’s three weather communications networks. (See July 6, 1957, and June 1979.)
Friday, January 20, 1961:John F. Kennedy became President, succeeding Dwight D. Eisenhower. The resignation of FAA Administrator Elwood R. Quesada became effective, and Deputy Administrator James T. Pyle became Acting Administrator. (See March 3, 1961.)
Tuesday, January 24, 1961:The Convair 990 (model 30) first flew. On December 15, FAA certificated the four-engine jet airliner of medium-to-long range with a maximum capacity of 121 passengers. The plane, built by General Dynamics Corporation, entered scheduled service on March 9, 1963, with Swissair.
Tuesday, February 7, 1961:Affirming the decision of a neutral committee, the U.S. National Mediation Board ruled that the pilots and flight engineers of United Air Lines constituted one craft for purposes of representation. The Board ordered an election in which the Flight Engineers International Association (FEIA) faced certain defeat by the more numerous members of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). On February 17, flight engineers walked off the job at seven airlines to protest the board’s decision, which they feared would set an industry-wide precedent. On February 21, with several wildcat strikes still in progress, President Kennedy appointed a three-man investigative commission headed by law professor Nathan Feinsinger. On May 24 and October 17, the commission issued two reports recommending that: all four-man cockpit crews be gradually reduced to three men; flight engineers on jets should take pilot training at airline expense; FEIA and ALPA should merge or take other cooperative action to settle their dispute over flight deck jurisdiction; and no disciplinary action should be taken against the flight engineers who struck in February. ALPA gave formal acceptance to only part of these recommendations, while FEIA accepted them as suggestions rather than binding solutions. All the airlines except Western, which refused to rehire its striking engineers, accepted the recommendations. By negotiations or strike-breaking, all the carriers that had been using a four-man cockpit crew had succeeded in eliminating the fourth man by the end of 1964. (See June 7, 1960 and April 21, 1965.)
Tuesday, February 7, 1961:FAA commissioned the Cleveland air traffic control center’s new building, followed by the Jacksonville center’s new building on February 25.
Tuesday, February 21, 1961: Effective this date, an amendment to Part 60, Civil Air Regulations, made it possible for FAA to raise the floor of control areas (airways) from the existing 700 feet to at least 1,200 feet above the surface, on a case-by-case basis. Such actions would provide an additional 500 feet or more of uncontrolled airspace. The additional uncontrolled airspace would be available to pilots operating under visual flight rules (VFR) when flight visibility was as low as one mile, in contrast to a three-mile visibility required for VFR operations in controlled airspace.
Sunday, February 26, 1961:FAA and the U.S. Weather Bureau announced the expansion of aviation weather services. Under the joint program, direct weather briefing service would be made available to pilots at hundreds of additional airports. The expanded program involved training FAA’s 4,000 flight service specialists to handle preflight briefing and to answer air-ground requests for weather information.
Friday, March 3, 1961:Najeeb E. Halaby became the second FAA Administrator, succeeding Elwood R. Quesada (see November 1, 1958). The appointment, which President Kennedy had announced on January 19, was submitted to the Senate on February 13 and confirmed on February 24. Born in Dallas, TX, Halaby received a B.A. from Stanford in 1937 and a law degree from Yale in 1940; however, his aviation career had already begun in 1933 when, at the age of 17, he received his student pilot certificate. Early in World War II (1942-1943), he served as a test pilot for the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. After becoming a naval aviator in 1943, he served at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent, Md. He participated in the first flights of U.S. jet-powered aircraft. Among the positions in which Halaby served the Federal government after the war were: foreign affairs adviser to the Secretary of Defense; special assistant to the Administrator of the Economic Cooperation Administration; Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs; and vice chairman of the Aviation Facilities Study Group (see May 4, 1955). In 1953, Halaby was selected by the Junior Chamber of Commerce for an award as the “outstanding young man in Federal Service.” His private business activities included the practice of law with a Los Angeles firm in 1940-1942 and, after World War II, service as: an associate of Laurence Rockefeller; executive vice president and director of Servomechanisms, Inc.; president of American Technological Corporation, a technical ventures corporation; secretary-treasurer of Aerospace Corporation, a firm that was principal adviser to the Air Force missile and space program; and director of his own law firm in Los Angeles. Halaby headed FAA for over four years, the longest tenure of any of the agency’s first twelve Administrators, before resigning effective July 1, 1965 (see that date).
Friday, March 3, 1961:President Kennedy requested Administrator Halaby to develop a statement of national aviation goals for the period 1961-70 which would define the technical, economic, and–excluding matters of peculiar concern to combat operating forces–military objectives of the Federal government throughout the broad spectrum of aviation. To undertake the study, called Project Horizon, an eight-member task group of aviation experts was formed under the chairmanship of Fred M. Glass, business executive and former member of the Harding Aviation Facilities Study Group. (See September 10, 1961.)
Wednesday, March 8, 1961:President Kennedy requested FAA Administrator Halaby “to conduct a scientific, engineering review of our aviation facilities and related research and development and to prepare a practicable long-range plan to insure efficient and safe control of all air traffic within the United States.” In response to this directive, the Administrator established the Project Beacon task force–a study group that brought together eight recognized experts in aeronautic and related technologies under the chairmanship of Richard R. Hough, vice president-operations of the Ohio Bell Telephone Company. (See September 11, 1961.)
Thursday, March 9, 1961:Administrator Halaby launched an “air share” program under which he and other top FAA officials met the general aviation community in a series of “hangar sessions” to discuss changes in the Civil Air Regulations. These meetings afforded airmen the opportunity to “air” their views and “share” the benefits of improved rules for safe flying. In October 1961, 90 air share meetings were held throughout the nation on a single day.
Monday, March 13, 1961:The Civil Aeronautics Board, rendering a decision in the Southern Transcontinental Service Case, awarded Delta Air Lines and National Airlines additional route segments that allowed both airlines to begin transcontinental service on June 1l, 1961.
Wednesday, March 29, 1961:Administrator Halaby requested a four-man group of consultants to review FAA rulemaking and enforcement procedures. This Project Tightrope study group, headed by Lloyd N. Cutler of Washington, D.C., was composed of prominent attorneys experienced in administrative law and aviation problems. Submitted in October, the Tightrope report made a number of recommendations that resulted in important changes in these procedures. Among the group’s recommendations were: establishing a Regulatory Council directly under the Administrator; appointing advisory committees for major rulemaking projects; eliminating the practice of keeping the rules docket closed until the end of the public comment period; publishing the proposed rule early in the rulemaking process; and having a trial-type hearing before an independent examiner prior to suspension or revocation of a certificate. (See January 8 and 17, 1962.)
Thursday, April 6, 1961:FAA established a three-layer airways system and lowered the floor of the continental control area from 24,000 to 14,500 feet. A new intermediate system covering altitudes between 14,500 and 24,000 feet was designed primarily to provide express airways for long- and medium-haul operations. The high-altitude jet route system extended above 24,000 feet; the low-level system, in operation for many years, extended up to 14,500 feet. The lowering of the floor of the continental control area put into effect more stringent weather minimums for visual flight rule (VFR) operations above 14,500 feet. (See October 15, 1960-March 1, 1961, and September 17, 1964.)
Friday, April 7, 1961:FAA rescinded previous orders that had authorized the establishment of field area offices in accordance with recommendations of Project Straight-Line. (See September 2, 1960 and October 1, 1963.)
Friday, April 7, 1961:FAA adopted the side-lobe suppression feature as a national standard for the air traffic control radar beacon system. The side-lobe suppression technique would permit ground facilities to interrogate and receive a radar reply only from the aircraft being queried. This ability expanded the radar beacon system’s capacity to handle air traffic. (See September 10, 1959, and September 11, 1961.)
April 10-14, 1961:The first FAA-sponsored International Aviation Research and Development Symposium, convened at Atlantic City, covered subjects relating to advances in electronics and their application to air navigation and air traffic control systems. Attendees included officials of some 20 foreign governments and representatives of the electronics and aviation communities.
Wednesday, April 12, 1961:Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space when he rode the Vostok I for a single orbit of earth before landing safely. Astronaut Alan B. Shepard became the first American in space with a May 5 suborbital flight. The following year, John H. Glenn, Jr., piloted the first U.S. manned orbital flight on February 20, 1962.
Monday, April 17, 1961:Air traffic control training for a group of military ATC trainees began at FAA’s Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City. The purpose of the experimental program was to determine whether FAA, in line with the Project Friendship plan, should eventually assume responsibility for training all military air traffic controllers. (See Oct. 7, 1959, and March 1, 1963.)
Monday, May 1, 1961:The first series of aircraft hijackings in the U.S. began when a passenger on a flight to Key West, FL, 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).
Tuesday, May 2, 1961:The FAA Administrator and the CAB Chairman issued a joint policy statement favoring the use of a single air carrier airport serving adjacent communities when such an arrangement might cut costs and improve service. The statement indicated that this policy should be increasingly important in considering applications for airport construction grants and for certificated airline service. (See September 1965.)
Thursday, May 4, 1961:FAA issued orders providing for the organization and operation of a comprehensive flight information service to ensure that current and complete information required for operations in the navigable airspace was available in the most suitable form.
Friday, May 5, 1961:Navy aeronauts Malcolm Ross and Victor Prather set a balloon high altitude record of 113,740 feet while testing space suits developed for use by Project Mercury astronauts. They landed as planned in the Gulf of Mexico, but Prather drowned during the recovery phase of the operation.
Thursday, May 25, 1961:A Special Civil Air Regulation effective this date banned the use of portable FM radios on U.S. civil aircraft. Radios having oscillators operating within or very near the Very High Frequency (VHF) band affected the VHF radio navigation system of the aircraft.
Friday, May 26, 1961:FAA Administrator Halaby disclosed his intention to decentralize the agency’s operational responsibilities and broaden the authority of regional executives. He selected FAA’s Region One, with Headquarters in New York, for the pilot program, and chose Oscar Bakke, head of the Bureau of Flight Standards, to develop the program and to submit a transition plan which would be used as a model for reorganization of the other regions. Bakke assumed the title of Assistant Administrator for the Eastern Region, effective July 1 (see that date).
Thursday, June 1, 1961:United Air Lines absorbed Capital Airlines in the biggest U.S. domestic airline merger up to that time.
Monday, June 5, 1961:FAA announced a program of improvements to Washington National Airport that would include easier highway access, upgraded baggage handling, enclosure of walkways, and a new taxiway near the North Terminal, a facility that had been added in 1958.
Wednesday, June 7, 1961:FAA signed a contract with the Flight Safety Foundation for a survey of near-collisions in the air during a one-year period, including compilation of statistical data, analysis, and recommendations. The resulting Project Scan began on July l. To ensure a free flow of information, the Foundation protected the identity of those reporting the near misses. A final report released on August 31, 1962, analyzed more than 2,500 of the incidents. It recommended an educational program for pilots, improvements in equipment and procedures, and continued collection of anonymous reports “to provide a broad background of information on the near mid-air collision hazard.” (See January 1, 1968.)
Thursday, June 8, 1961:FAA announced plans to establish an additional regional office, with headquarters in Atlanta, GA. The new Southern Region office would have responsibility for FAA activities in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Swan Island–areas currently under the supervision of FAA Region 2 headquartered at Fort Worth, TX. The Southern Region would be a controlled installation with minimum staffing, designed to serve as a model for reducing regional headquarters cost through prudent management. At the same time, FAA disclosed that its regions would be identified by geographical rather than numerical designations. Thus, Region 1 would become the Eastern Region; Region 2, Southwest Region; Region 3, Central Region; Region 4, Western Region; Region 5, Alaskan Region; and Region 6, Hawaiian Region (subsequently changed to Pacific Region)
Thursday, June 15, 1961:Following installation of distance-measuring equipment (DME) on the entire jet fleet of American Airlines, FAA began using DME air traffic control procedures for the first time on a nationwide basis. While these procedures had been in effect since January 1960, their use had been limited by the small number of DME-equipped civil aircraft. (See December 16, 1960, and July 1, 1963.)
Monday, June 26, 1961:FAA announced that as a result of a recent decision by the U.S. Civil Service Commission, many air traffic controller positions in approach control towers and air route traffic control centers would be raised one grade to reflect increased job requirements and complexity. Primarily affected were the positions of certain controllers performing coordination and radar control duties as well as facility chiefs and other supervisors. (See December 15, 1968.)
Thursday, June 29, 1961:FAA commissioned the first Doppler VOR system, for service at Marquette, Mich. The Doppler version of the very-high frequency omnidirectional radio range, a primary navigational aid of the Federal airways system, was developed for installation at sites where standard VOR’s could not be used. (See June 1, 1952.)
Saturday, July 1, 1961:An extensive reorganization of the Federal Aviation Agency began. Termed “evolutionary” and keyed to a revised concept of Washington-field relationships, the reorganization was intended to strengthen agency management by centralizing development of programs, policies, and standards in Washington and delegating broad operational responsibilities to regional offices. The seven regional offices would be headed by assistant administrators responsible for the executive direction of all FAA programs in the field within the framework of the national guidelines established by Washington. To assist the Administrator in the overall management of specific functional areas, the posts of Deputy Administrator for Plans and Development and Deputy Administrator for Administration were established. In an earlier action, the FAA Administrator had named Alan L. Dean, formerly Assistant Administrator for Management Services, as the new Deputy Administrator for Administration. The following April, Robert J. Shank, an engineer-executive from private industry, was selected to head the redesignated post of Deputy Administrator for Development. The statutory Deputy Administrator was to serve as general manager of the agency’s operations, coordinating the activities of the regional offices and the operating programs in Washington. James T. Pyle, former CAA Administrator and Deputy Administrator under Quesada, would continue to occupy this post until his resignation in October 1961. General Harold W. Grant was selected as the new Deputy Administrator in February 1962. Except for the Bureau of National Capital Airports, all of the former bureaus and the Office of International Coordination were redesignated as services, each headed by a director. Other changes involved the former Budget Division of the Office of Management Services, which became the Office of Budget.
Saturday, July 1, 1961:FAA, with the cooperation of the U.S. Weather Bureau, inaugurated pilot-to-forecaster weather service as a test program in the Washington, D.C., and Kansas City areas. The service allowed pilots to request weather information via a special radio frequency.
Saturday, July 1, 1961:FAA commissioned the Balboa (C.Z.) air route traffic control center.
Wednesday, July 12, 1961:Findings of a recently completed U.S. Civil Service Commission review of the functions and operations of FAA flight service stations were released. The CSC study concluded that changes in the functions and responsibilities of specialists at these facilities warranted in many instances one or two-grade salary increases.
Thursday, July 13, 1961:FAA issued new procedures for the emergency operation of the DC-8 hydraulic system in a telegram to the aircraft’s users. The action followed a United Air Lines accident fatal to 17 persons on July 11 and a non-fatal accident on July 12.
Saturday, July 15, 1961:The “tall tower” rule (Part 626, Regulations of the Administrator) became effective. This was the first single regulatory document containing criteria and procedures for determining potential hazards to air navigation which might be created by proposed tall structures. The controversial rule was regarded as a firm rejection of the broadcast industry’s contention that such regulation invaded Federal Communications Commission jurisdiction. On July 21, 1961, FAA Administrator Halaby and FCC Chairman Newton N. Minow announced agreement on a number of measures to insure coordination of the new rule with FCC requirements to prevent unnecessary restriction.
Monday, July 24, 1961:A joint FAA-DOD-NASA Commercial Supersonic Transport Aircraft Report was issued. Based on a review of information gathered from industry and Federal government sources, the report concluded that development of a commercial transport aircraft to fly three times the speed of sound (Mach 3) was feasible and could be done by 1970-71. During August, Congress made its first appropriation for FAA research on the Supersonic Transport (SST). (See January 9 and September 25, 1961.)
Tuesday, July 25, 1961:FAA requested contract bids for the development of a compact airborne radar beacon for light aircraft. The transponders became commercially available during fiscal year 1965. The equipment, designated SLATE (small lightweight altitude-transmitting equipment), provided air traffic controllers with altitude information, permitting users to receive positive separation service in busy terminal area controlled airspace.
July 1961:Work began at Anchorage on the installation of an automatic telecommunications system to modernize FAA’s aeronautic communications in the Alaskan area. The new system was able to automatically switch reports coming in from 65 stations to the proper receiving station. It would handle mainly messages in FAA’s Service B, which covered primarily aircraft movements, flight plans, and messages related to air traffic control and aviation safety. Additional steps were taken in September to modernize major portions of FAA’s Alaskan telecommunications network with the award of a contract for 200 high-speed teletypewriters and associated equipment.
Thursday, August 10, 1961:For the first time the Federal government employed armed guards on civilian planes. (See May 1, 1961.) The first such guards were border patrolmen from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. In March 1962, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy swore in FAA’s first “peace officers,” as Special U.S. Deputy Marshals. Graduates of a special training course at the U.S. Border Patrol Academy, all of the men worked as safety inspectors for Flight Standards and only carried out their role as armed marshals on flights when specifically requested to do so by airline management or the FBI. (See February 21, 1968.)
Sunday, August 13, 1961:Standard instrument departure (SID) procedures went into effect for the first time for civil aircraft at New York International Airport. In the form of pictorial charts, the SID’s simplified pilot-controller exchange of complex clearance information.
Monday, August 28, 1961:FAA issued type and production certificates for the Lockheed Model 1329 JetStar, powered by four Pratt & Whitney JT12A-6 engines. The JetStar was the first four-engine turbojet executive-type transport designed and developed in the United States to be certificated.
Thursday, August 31, 1961:FAA issued orders setting up an accelerated program to codify the agency’s safety rules. The purpose of the program was to replace an ungainly mass of regulatory material with one streamlined body of rules. Primary responsibility was assigned to a Director of Rules Codification reporting to the agency’s General Counsel. (See October 18, 1960, and December 31, 1964.)
Thursday, September 7, 1961:FAA approved in principle the use of Doppler radar and other flight deck navaids to guide airliners across the North Atlantic. Authorization to operate on these routes without a navigator was contingent on satisfactory completion of a pilot training program and a refinement of procedures. The announcement resulted in a strike threat by airline navigators, who would be replaced by the all-electronic navigation systems. In February 1962, however, Trans World Airways became the first carrier to obtain FAA authorization to employ the Doppler navigational system in lieu of celestial navigation. (See July 21, 1964.)
Sunday, September 10, 1961:The White House released the Project Horizon task force report (see March 3, 1961) on aviation goals for the 1960s with a presidential endorsement and instructions to the FAA Administrator to take the lead in its implementation. At the same time, the President instructed the Secretary of Commerce to take Horizon proposals fully into account in preparing a report on overall transportation policies, thus aiding in the quest for “an integrated national aviation program within a broad national transportation policy.” The 239-page report defined 24 national aviation goals and outlined various programs aimed at helping to achieve those important objectives. Among the major points were those that called for:
- Maintaining U.S. leadership in world aviation.
- Basic reorientation of the Federal government’s approach to the economic regulation of the airlines to avert the threatened collapse of the industry’s financial structure.
- Development of a Mach 3 supersonic commercial transport.
- More emphasis on the aeronautical as opposed to astronautical aspects of the Federal R&D effort.
- A comprehensive study of international aviation relations, commissioned by the President.
- Enactment of legislation tailored to aviation’s needs to replace the Railway Labor Act.
- Continued effort to achieve a common civil-military air traffic control and air navigation system, including the establishment of a Federal Aviation Service within the FAA that would become an integral part of the military services in time of war.
- Implementation of pending Project Beacon recommendations on air traffic control (see September 11, 1961).