FAA History: 1963

Wednesday, January 16, 1963: The Federal Aviation Agency’s Supersonic Transport Advisory Group recommended U.S. development of a commercial supersonic transport (SST) as a top-priority Federal-industry program in a report made public this date. In acknowledging the report, Administrator Halaby said that it made a “powerful” case for proceeding with SST development, but he asked for additional conclusions and recommendations in the following areas: cost of development and testing up to the pre-production stage for each airplane; unit cost which should be charged to the air carriers by manufacturers after the production stage was reached, “assuming production of some 200 aircraft”; direct operating costs; and management organization for development of an SST. The group submitted this supplementary report in May 1963 before dissolving in July. At the end May 1963, a Cabinet-level committee headed by Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson submitted recommendations to President Kennedy that were favorable to the program. (See December 11, 1961, and June 5, 1963.)
January 1963:Implementing a Project Searchlight recommendation, FAA began using a new reporting system to provide comprehensive data on circumstances associated with outages of air navigation facilities because of equipment failures. Initially using punch card accounting machinery to obtain data summaries from some 30,000 reports per month, FAA early began to convert the system to a computer. Analyses of the data identified equipment deficiencies, established the basis for equipment modifications, provided a means of evaluating cost-benefit ratios for facility and equipment proposals, and led to an improvement in maintenance productivity. (See August 1, 1960.)
Friday, February 1, 1963: In a formal agreement effective this date, the Deputy Secretary of Defense and the FAA Administrator called for joint FAA-DOD use of operational point-to-point communications networks on a worldwide basis. As the first step, leasing of FAA’s commercial-wire communications requirements was phased in as an activity of the Defense Communications Agency. The phase-in was complete by the following June 30. The integration of FAA-DOD telecommunications facilities was undertaken to enhance the efficiency and reliability of both agencies’ communications. Specific benefits foreseen included cost savings, greater protection for FAA’s communications against service disruption, and an optimum balance of operational and economic considerations in a system satisfying both military and FAA cryptographic requirements.
Saturday, February 9, 1963:The Boeing 727 first flew. On December 24, 1963, FAA certificated the 727, a three engine jet airliner of short/medium range with a basic capacity of 94 and a maximum capacity of 119 passengers. The plane entered scheduled airline service with Eastern Air Lines on February 1, 1964, and achieved worldwide popularity. By 1988, U.S. air carriers alone were operating 1,246 of the 727s.
Thursday, February 14, 1963:The Civil Aeronautics Board disapproved agreements reached by the International Air Transport Association at its Chandler, AZ, conference the previous fall to increase certain passenger fares on North Atlantic and Pacific routes. The CAB stand for lower fares resulted in a major controversy among international air carriers and their governments. Most European governments approved the higher fares and took steps to require U.S. carriers to charge the increased tariffs as a condition of entry into their respective countries. The controversy was temporarily resolved by a compromise agreement worked out by the carriers at Montreal in late May and subsequently approved by CAB.
Friday, March 1, 1963:The BOB-DOD-FAA Interagency Steering Committee (see February 17, 1962) reported to Administrator Halaby its findings concerning air traffic control and related functions of the Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Agency. In summary, the Committee concluded: (1) a general assimilation of military traffic control functions by FAA could not be justified by cost or operational considerations; (2) assumption of operational and maintenance responsibilities by FAA for individual military facilities or classes of facilities might be advantageous, and the continuation of assimilation programs in such cases on a selective and mutually agreeable to basis was desirable; and (3) that it was desirable to further explore the feasibility of such joint programs as the training of traffic controllers and the establishment of common technical performance standards for equipment. By the time of this report, the opposing views of the air traffic controllers and the military had produced a deadlock that destroyed prospects for a Federal Aviation Service (see September 21, 1961.).
Tuesday, March 12, 1963:FAA published the first issue of Intercom, a weekly newsletter to keep employees at headquarters abreast of agency business. The issue announced that Intercom’s for field personnel would be developed at the regional level by adding regional news to that reported in the headquarters version. In May of the same year, FAA also distributed the first issue of Horizons, a longer publication for employees. Horizons appeared monthly until biweekly publication began during 1967. In January 1971, it was superseded by the monthly FAA World. Publication of World was suspended after May 1986, but resumed in December of that year and continued through April 1994.
Monday, April 1, 1963:As an initial move in decentralizing its international aviation activities, FAA established a Europe, Africa, and Middle East region. Within its geographical area, the new regional organization represented the Administrator and unified authority for all FAA activities except the supervision of technical assistance programs. The new region assumed responsibility for the European, African, and Middle Eastern activities of the agency’s international field offices, the Committee for European Airspace Coordination representatives, systems research and development offices, and air traffic control advisers. Headed by an Assistant Administrator, the new organization became fully operational on September 1, 1963. By that date, London had been selected as its headquarters. (See July 17, 1963, and May 1, 1965.)
Thursday, April 4, 1963:Under the air route traffic control center consolidation program, FAA completed a phase-out of the Spokane center and transferred its responsibilities to the Seattle center. The agency completed two similar phase-outs on June 22 (El Paso, with responsibilities transferred to the Albuquerque center) and June 30 (Norfolk, with responsibilities transferred to the Washington center).
Saturday, April 20, 1963:FAA commissioned the Albuquerque air traffic control center’s new building on this date. Other new center buildings commissioned during 1963 included: Washington at Leesburg, VA, on April 28 (FAA held formal dedication ceremonies on June 15) and Miami on September 2.
Wednesday, April 24, 1963:President Kennedy approved a new statement of U.S. international air transport policy based on a report submitted earlier by an Interagency Steering Committee, chaired by the FAA Administrator (see September 15, 1961). A change in emphasis rather than in fundamental approach, the new statement stressed the necessity for keeping the environment of the international air transport industry as free as possible from restrictions, whether imposed by government or inter-carrier agreement. U.S. policy was to seek an atmosphere of free enterprise that would benefit U.S. international air carriers and strengthen the entire system generally. As a follow-up action, the President, on June 22, 1963, directed the Secretary of State to organize an Interagency Committee on International Aviation Policy. The new body was to assist in the continuing task of developing and updating this and related U.S. policies. Chaired by the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and with the FAA Administrator as vice chairman, the committee consisted essentially of membership representing the same agencies as those of the Interagency Group on International Aviation (see August 11, 1960), which continued to handle technical matters affecting international aviation.
Friday, April 26, 1963:A split occurred within the Air Line Pilots Association, resulting in the formation of a separate union, the Allied Pilots Association, that gained the right to represent the pilots of American Airlines.
Wednesday, May 1, 1963: 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 strengthened this belief (see November 8, 1961, and July 10, 1962).
Wednesday, May 1, 1963: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.
Saturday, May 18, 1963: Effective this date, FAA required aircraft of Cuban registry engaging in nonscheduled international service in U.S. airspace to follow designated routes and to land at designated airports for inspection. FAA issued the rule at the request of the Departments of State and Defense as a measure necessary to national security. Its content was disseminated on May 20 in an international notice to airmen.
Wednesday, June 5, 1963:President Kennedy announced his decision to proceed with the development of a U.S. supersonic transport (SST) in an address at the Air Force Academy’s commencement exercises. In a June 14 letter to Congress, Kennedy wrote that the national interest required a U.S. SST superior to any comparable transport, and he formally recommended a program to develop such an aircraft. He suggested that private industry bear 25 percent of the development costs, with the Federal government paying the remaining 75 percent. To provide this Federal share, the President on June 24 requested Congress to appropriate $60 million. The money was subsequently included in FAA’s appropriation for fiscal 1964. (See January 16, 1963, and July 29, 1963.)
Wednesday, June 5, 1963:Administrator Halaby announced the establishment of an aviation mechanic safety awards program, to be administered by FAA in conjunction with the Flight Safety Foundation of New York City. Under the program, annual awards would honor airline and general aviation mechanics at state, regional, and national levels on the basis of their suggestions for improving either maintenance procedures or the mechanical reliability of aircraft and component systems. State aviation officials and representatives of FAA and industry would select the winners at the state and regional levels. FAA, the Flight Safety Foundation, and a committee of prominent members of the aviation community would select national winners.
Wednesday, June 12, 1963:The Administrator announced the appointment of David D. Thomas to the new FAA position of Deputy Administrator for Programs. Thomas would be responsible for planning and coordinating the operating programs of FAA’s Air Traffic Service, Flight Standards Service, Airport Service, and Systems Maintenance Service. The title of the position was changed on June 28, 1963, to Associate Administrator for Programs, at the same time that the positions of Deputy Administrator for Administration and Deputy Administrator for Development were redesignated Associate Administrators for Administration and for Development.
Monday, July 1, 1963:FAA established the Office of Headquarters Operations, consolidating under a single managerial responsibility the personnel, accounting, data processing, and other administrative and support services required by FAA’s Washington headquarters.
Monday, July 1, 1963:An FAA safety rule requiring distance-measuring equipment (DME) on all airline turbojets and on all other civil aircraft flying instrument flight rules (IFR) above 24,000 feet in the contiguous 48 States went into effect. (See June 15, 1961, and September 18, 1965.) FAA stated that the rule would be extended to Alaska and Hawaii when the necessary ground equipment became available in those States. The agency extended the rule to all air carrier aircraft operating IFR, regardless of altitude, beginning with turboprops on January 1, 1964; pressurized piston-engine airplanes on July 1, 1964; and other planes having a maximum takeoff weight above 12,500 pounds on July 1, 1965.
Wednesday, July 17, 1963:FAA reconstituted its International Aviation Service as the Office of International Aviation Affairs, under an Assistant Administrator for International Aviation Affairs reporting to the Administrator. The same order directed decentralization of operational responsibility for the agency’s international aviation activities to the regions. Full implementation was achieved in September 1963. As a result, the mission of the new Washington headquarters organization changed from an operating function to a staff activity; however, the new office retained responsibility for the management of FAA’s role in technical assistance programs.
Sunday, July 21, 1963:FAA commissioned a new building for the New York air route traffic control center at Islip, NY. This new building brought into service the first real-time solid-state computer to be used by the FAA in air traffic control. Formal dedication ceremonies took place September 7-8, 1963. The New York center’s old building, in use since 1956, had been located at New York International Airport (Idlewild).
Monday, July 29, 1963:FAA Administrator Halaby announced the appointment of Gordon M. Bain to the new position of Deputy Administrator for Supersonic Transport Development. Bain was to head the organization within the FAA charged with overall responsibility for the Federal-industry program to develop a commercial supersonic transport (SST) aircraft. A division-level organization had previously handled the agency’s role in the feasibility and research phase of the program, which was conducted jointly with NASA and the Defense Department. (See June 5, 1963, August 15, 1963, and September 15, 1965.)
July 1963:FAA issued a Guide to Drug Hazards in Aviation Medicine, the first work of its kind. Dr. Windsor Cutting, professor of therapeutics at Stanford University, prepared the work for the agency with the assistance of other eminent pharmacologists and staff members of FAA’s Aviation Medical Service. A comprehensive listing of all commonly used drugs, both prescription and nonprescription, the Guide treated these by groups with similar pharmacological characteristics. For each group there was a concise statement of side effects, if any, making the drugs undesirable for fliers, and recommendations concerning the length of time a pilot should wait after taking a drug before resuming flight activity.
Thursday, August 15, 1963:FAA issued a request for proposals (RFP) that established performance objectives for the United States supersonic transport (SST), providing the basis for design competition among airframe and engine manufacturers. The program timetable called for initial submission of manufacturers’ designs based on this RFP by January 15, 1964. By September 10, 1963, three major airframe manufacturers and three major engine builders had notified FAA of their intention to submit proposals. (See July 29, 1963, and November 19, 1963.)
Tuesday, August 20, 1963:The BAC 1-11 first flew. The plane received a British type certificate on April 6, 1965. On April 15, 1965, FAA typed certificated the twin-engine, short-range jetliner with a maximum passenger capacity of 79, the first airliner since the 1940s to be certificated for operation with a two-man cockpit crew. Braniff Airways pressed the aircraft into U.S. domestic service on April 25, 1965.
Monday, September 9, 1963:FAA issued interim policy and guidance to cover an expansion of air traffic control services to the peacetime activities of the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD). Limited thus far to the Central Region (see October 15, 1962), these FAA services would become available to CONAD in all regions after necessary preparations. The agency would provide air traffic control for a large part of intercept operations, but leave the control of critical phases to military air defense facilities. On October 7, 1963, Administrator Halaby hailed this development as “a milestone in air traffic control and in FAA-CONAD relations,” and stated that the new procedures would become effective on February 1, 1964.
Saturday, September 14, 1963:The Convention on Offenses and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft (known as the Tokyo Convention) was opened for signature at a diplomatic conference held under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). An FAA official representing President Kennedy signed the document on behalf of the United States. The Legal Committee of ICAO had spent many years drafting the convention, which clarified certain jurisdictional issues concerning hijacked aircraft, and recognized the authority of aircraft commanders to use reasonable force to preserve law and order aboard their aircraft. The agreement also obligated signatory nations in which a hijacked aircraft might land to restore that aircraft to its lawful commander and to permit passengers and crew to continue their journey as soon as possible. The convention was to become effective 90 days after the twelfth signatory state deposited its instrument of ratification. (See December 4, 1969.)
Monday, September 30, 1963:A National Aircraft Accident Investigation School, jointly established by the Civil Aeronautics Board and FAA, opened at Oklahoma City with a prototype class of 16 students. The six-week course in accident investigation techniques and procedures was primarily for CAB-FAA personnel, with participation by a limited number of foreign students.
Monday, October 7, 1963:The Learjet 23 made its initial flight. FAA certificated the twin-engine executive aircraft in July of the following year, and the company made its first delivery in October. The success of Model 23 and later Learjets helped to popularize corporate jet transportation.
Tuesday, October 1, 1963:FAA began Project FOCUS (field organization configuration study), a set of working tests of alternative modes of field organization which were conducted simultaneously through April 1, 1964. The tests were the core of a study to address the problem of administrative decentralization at FAA’s subregional level. Since each of the tested concepts offered different advantages and costs, the agency required an extensive period of evaluation following the tests to determine which provided the best cost-benefit ratio and greatest potential for meeting the future needs of the agency and the aviation public. While Project FOCUS was conducted only within the 48 contiguous states, three FAA regions took action to establish area offices outside the contiguous states during fiscal 1964. The Southern Region established area offices at Balboa (for the Canal Zone) and San Juan (for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands); the Alaskan Region, at Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks, Nome, Sitka, and 16 other locations; the Pacific Region, at Wake Island, Canton Island, Guam, and American Samoa. Area offices were expected to provide prompter and more locally responsive actions, a reduced regional headquarters workload, and generally more effective supervision of field offices and facilities. Area managers, the heads of these offices, had line authority over four basic operating programs–air traffic, flight standards, airway facilities, and airports. These programs had previously been in the hands of the regional directors and the regional program division chiefs. (See April 7, 1961, and May 18, 1965.)
Wednesday, October 30, 1963:FAA announced a proposed program to stimulate development of a new passenger/cargo aircraft for the short haul market, still dominated by the venerable DC-3. A preliminary design competition was completed in June 1964, but FAA did not consider any of the designs submitted a sufficient advance in the state of the art to warrant a detailed design contract.
Friday, November 1, 1963:At New York International Airport (Idlewild), FAA began operational tests of automatic broadcasts of routine, noncontrol terminal information using the voice channel of the NAVAID serving the airport. The agency later extended the new procedure to other busy terminal areas to reduce pilot-controller frequency congestion.
Tuesday, November 19, 1963:Responding to requests from U.S. and foreign carriers for priority deliveries of the U.S. supersonic transport (SST) when it became available, FAA established a delivery priorities system for the first 70 airliners to come off the production line. The agency stated it was acting as intermediary for the airlines pending final selection of a manufacturer to make the SST available at an early time to the broadest possible market, while maintaining a reasonable balance of distribution been U.S. and foreign carriers. (See August 15, 1963, and January 15, 1964.)
Friday, November 22, 1963:President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and was succeeded by Lyndon B. Johnson.
Friday, November 22, 1963:FAA’s Washington headquarters staff began moving into the newly completed Federal Office Building 10A, at 800 Independence Avenue, SW. Completed in December, the move brought together under one roof personnel formerly housed in several widely dispersed buildings, including some “temporary” buildings of World War II vintage.
Sunday, December 1, 1963:FAA’s air route traffic control center at Great Falls, MT, began joint use with the Air Force of facilities originally installed to serve the latter’s SAGE direction center at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Great Falls. Under this arrangement the same facilities served the dual purpose of air traffic control and air defense. This marked the first use of SAGE data for air traffic control by an FAA facility. (See September 11, 1961.)
Sunday, December 8, 1963:A lightning-induced fuel tank explosion caused the crash of a Pan American Boeing 707 near Elkton, MD, with the loss of all 81 persons aboard. FAA’s response included a December 18 telegram to air carriers and aircraft operators requiring installation of static dischargers on aircraft using turbine fuels. The accident led to research into methods of preventing such explosions, and to a debate on the safety of JP-4 (Type B) jet fuel. (See January 15, 1965.)
Tuesday, December 17, 1963:As a result of a congressional joint resolution and a Presidential proclamation, Wright Brothers Day occurred for the first time as a continuing annual observance on this 60th anniversary of the brothers’ epical first flight. (The anniversary had previously received this official designation on a one-time basis for the year 1959.) December 17 also remained Pan American Aviation Day (see December 17, 1940). Also on this date in 1963, “First Flight Airport” was dedicated at Kill Devil Hills, NC, near the scene of the achievement commemorated in the facility’s name. To build this general aviation airport, contributions of $44,444 each were made by the state of North Carolina, FAA, and the National Park Service.
Tuesday, December 24, 1963:New York International Airport (known as Idlewild) was renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Friday, December 27, 1963:The civil-military common system of air navigation and air traffic control moved forward a step with a final action on FAA-DOD agreements defining the use, technical standards, and equipment characteristics of a key component — the air traffic control radar beacon system (ATCRBS). (See September 11, 1961, and March 4, 1976.)
Monday, December 30, 1963:FAA made public a study completed for the agency by a private research firm with the cooperation of the Air Transport Association. The study concluded that airport surface congestion was the principal cause of airport delays, a finding that corroborated an August 1962 FAA staff study. The firm found that runways, taxiways, ramp space, and gate positions were inadequate for modern-day air traffic, particularly during the evening rush hour. Only about one in five flights encountered delay, however, and significant delays were concentrated within a relatively few large airports.
Calendar Year 1963:Marlon Green became the first African American to be hired as a pilot by a major U.S. passenger airline, after winning a discrimination suit against Continental Airlines. Earlier black pilots to fly for airlines had included August Martin, hired by a cargo line in 1955, and Perry Young, who joined a helicopter air carrier in 1956.
Primary Sources:
Dated items along the left margin of the FAA History Pages were compiled from the series of FAA’s ‘Historical Chronology’ PDF files. For a list and links to uploaded copies of these PDF files, see aiReform’s ‘FAA History’ main page (link above).
Additional content has been compiled from Wikipedia and other sources; these items are presented along the right margin, and include significant accidents, Whistleblower case actions, various news items, ATC technology developments, links to related material, comments, etc. Further content will be added at a later date.