FAA History: 1966

Saturday, January 1, 1966:Part 137 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, “Agricultural Aircraft Operations,” became effective on this date, establishing for the first time national standards and requirements for private and commercial agricultural operator certificates, operating rules, aircraft airworthiness, and pilot qualifications.
Monday, January 10, 1966:ATCReliance on radar for controlling air traffic advanced when a rule effective this date permitted pilots flying Instrument Flight Rules in a radar environment to omit routine position reports.
Tuesday, January 11, 1966:FAA announced that Washington National Airport would be opened to jet aircraft on April 24, 1966 (see that date). The decision was supported by a study entitled “Economic Feasibility of Alternative Programs for Washington National Airport,” published on January 26. The study discussed modernization of the airport and concluded that a continued ban on jet airline operations would reduce its function to virtually that of a general aviation field, with greatly decreased passenger traffic and revenues.
Saturday, January 15, 1966:Effective this date, a rule intended to prevent runway overruns required turbojet transport aircraft landing on wet or slippery runways to have available 15 percent more runway length than considered adequate in dry weather. If the increased runway length was not available at an arrival airport and weather reports indicated slippery or wet runways during a transport’s anticipated arrival time, the aircraft was required to compensate for the shorter runway length by carrying less payload or fuel. (See August 4, 1965.)
Friday, January 28, 1966:FAA published a rule requiring a life preserver or some other approved flotation device for each occupant of large aircraft used by air carriers or other commercial operators in all overwater operations. The compliance deadline was March 1, 1967, subsequently extended to September 1, 1967. Such devices had already been required for operations of large aircraft conducted over water at a horizontal distance of more than 50 miles from the nearest shoreline. (See January 4, 1965.)
January 1966:ATCFAA and the Department of Defense signed an agreement on development of DAIR (direct altitude and identity readout), an automated air traffic control configuration for military facilities and low-density civil terminals. Unlike more sophisticated automated ATC configurations designed to provide alphanumerics, DAIR would employ only numerics. During fiscal 1970, the Air Force contracted for 304 production models of the system, now renamed the AN/TPX-42, and FAA exercised an option to acquire 56 of the systems over a five-year period.
Thursday, February 3, 1966:NEWSThe Soviet Union’s unmanned spacecraft LUNA IX made the first soft landing on the moon. (See June 2, 1966.)
Sunday, February 13, 1966:ATCAn FAA-developed mobile air traffic control tower began operating at the Lockheed Air Terminal, Burbank, CA, within 40 hours after a fire had destroyed the Lockheed tower.
February 18, 1966:The National Committee for Clear Air Turbulence was established to determine operational needs for the detection and prediction of this hazard, known as CAT. Formed at the instigation of the Defense Department, the committee was composed of representatives from the National Science Foundation and seven Federal agencies, including FAA. In a December 1966 report, the committee called for a coordinated national effort to understand and remedy the CAT problem. The report’s recommendations included a national data collection project to gather information needed to achieve CAT detection and forecasting. On March 29, 1967, the CAT hazard was illustrated by the death of an unbelted passenger when a United Airlines jet reportedly plunged 8,000 feet after encountering turbulence. Subsequent FAA actions regarding CAT included participation in joint research on forecasting methods.
Tuesday, February 22, 1966:Under a rule effective this date, FAA required newly certificated flight engineers to have an aircraft class rating for each class of aircraft (piston-engine, turboprop, or turbojet) in which they flew. Currently active flight engineers had until February 22, 1968, to exchange their existing certificate for one with a class rating.
February 1966:ATCFAA completed a 10-month evaluation of SPAN (stored program alphanumerics) at the Indianapolis air route traffic control center. The agency subsequently dismantled and shipped this prototype ATC system to the New York ARTCC to help cope with the extremely high air traffic density in the New York area. (See May 24, 1965, and Spring 1968.)
Tuesday, March 1, 1966:NEWSAn unmanned Soviet spacecraft entered the atmosphere of Venus, becoming the first space probe to reach another planet.
Wednesday, March 2, 1966:President Johnson recommended to Congress the creation of a Cabinet-level Department of Transportation. The President noted that the United States lacked a coordinated transportation system permitting travelers and goods to move conveniently from one means of transportation to another, using the best characteristics of each. The responsibility for transportation within the Federal government, he observed, was fragmented among many agencies resulting in a series of uncoordinated modal policies. What was needed was a single department to develop and carry out comprehensive policies and programs for transportation in its totality. The President proposed that the following agencies and functions be consolidated in the new department: the Office of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Transportation; the Bureau of Public Roads; the Federal Aviation Agency; the U.S. Coast Guard; the Maritime Administration; the safety functions of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB); the safety functions and car service functions of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC); the Great Lakes Pilotage Administration; the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation; the Alaska Railroad; and certain minor transportation-related activities of other agencies. The President also recommended the creation within the Department of a National Transportation Safety Board, which would absorb the safety functions transferred from CAB and ICC. (See October 15, 1966.)
Wednesday, March 16, 1966:NEWSGemini VIII, a U.S. manned space flight, achieved the first space docking.
Thursday, March 17, 1966:The Bell Triservice X-22A, a tilting-duct Vertical/ Short Takeoff and Landing (V/STOL) aircraft, made its maiden flight. On June 30, 1966, with the tilting ducts at an angle of 30 degrees, the aircraft made its first STOL takeoff, and subsequently attained a top speed in excess of 100 miles an hour.
Thursday, March 17, 1966:FAA type-certificated the Learjet 24, a two-engine turbine-powered business aircraft seating eight (two crewmembers and six passengers). In the first flight of its kind by a business jet, a Learjet 24 completed a 17-leg, 23,002-statute-mile, round-the-world flight on May 26, 1966. The global flight took 65 hours 40 minutes (actual flying time, 50 hours).
Friday, April 8, 1966:ENVIROFAA established a Noise Abatement Staff, under the Associate Administrator for Programs, to lead the agency’s response to a call by President Johnson for a government-wide effort to alleviate the problem of aircraft-engine noise. The President’s call came on the heels of a recommendation by the Jet Aircraft Noise Panel of the Office of Science and Technology that the Federal government take the lead in seeking solutions to the problem. Shortly after this recommendation, the President established an interagency aircraft noise abatement program under the Office of Science and Technology. FAA served on three interagency committees set up under this program. The various projects developed under this program fell into three categories: developing quieter engines; revising aircraft operating procedures; and promoting land uses around airports compatible with airport operations. Later in the year, FAA drafted legislation empowering it to prescribe noise standards as part of the criteria for aircraft certification. The administration’s noise abatement bill was introduced in the 89th Congress, but did not come to a vote. (See July 21, 1967, December 4, 1967, and July 21, 1968.)
Sunday, April 17, 1966:ATCFAA commissioned the San Juan air route traffic control center’s new building.
Sunday, April 24, 1966:Scheduled air carrier jet operations began at Washington National Airport (see January 11, 1966). FAA limited air carrier jet use of the airport to two- and three-engine aircraft with short- and medium-range. A further limitation–agreed to voluntarily by the twelve certificated route air carriers serving National and approved by the Civil Aeronautics Board–required the first stop for these air carrier jet flights to be within a radius of 650 miles from Washington, D.C., except that nonstop service in effect on December 1, 1965, to eight specified cities outside that radius could continue. These eight cities, all within 1,000 miles, were Memphis, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, and West Palm Beach, and Hamilton, Bermuda. (Flights to and from Hamilton were later forced to operate out of Dulles International.) The 650-mile radius agreement expired on January 1, 1967; however, all parties to the original agreement continued to adhere to its provisions, thus fixing National’s role as that of a short-haul airport. The introduction of jet air carrier service at this airport required special arrival and departure procedures, based on the Potomac River as the natural flyway for reducing noise disturbances. In addition, a curfew on jet operations was imposed between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. (See September 1, 1966 and March 23, 1978.)
Monday, April 25, 1966:FAA established the National Airspace System Program Office, replacing the NAS Special Projects Office as a staff element under the Associate Administrator for Development. Headed by the Deputy Associate Administrator for Development, NASPO had responsibility for design, engineering, procurement, and installation–in addition to central programming, planning, and scheduling–of designated program elements of the air traffic control subsystem of the National Airspace System. (See May 18, 1970 and February 10, 1972.)
April 1966:The United States and New Zealand signed the first agreement for flight inspection of U.S. air navigation facilities by a foreign country. New Zealand’s flight inspection of U.S. NAVAIDs in American Samoa was expected to save FAA $15,000 per year.
April 1966:FAA published a study examining the technological and economic feasibility of a V/STOL (vertical/short takeoff and landing) transport system. Prepared for the agency by the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, the report concluded that a 100-passenger V/STOL aircraft operating from small airports close to downtown city areas could play a major role in meeting increasing needs for short-distance transportation. (See April 8, 1965, and November 5, 1966.)
Thursday, May 19, 1966:According to a Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences staff report entitled, “Policy Planning for Aeronautical Research and Development,” civil aeronautics was served by technology in a haphazard manner. For civil aviation to advance as rapidly as technology will allow, the report recommended: taking civil requirements into greater account during military aircraft development planning; Federal underwriting of the increasing financial risks in civil aeronautical development; providing tax credits and other incentives to the aeronautical industry; and carrying out of transportation systems planning on the Federal level.
Friday, May 20, 1966:A $2.50 charge for in-flight motion picture entertainment on international flights received the approval of the Civil Aeronautics Board. The charge, covering the audio portion of the entertainment, had been put in effect by U.S.-flag carriers on April 1, 1966.
Thursday, June 2, 1966:NEWSSurveyor I became the first U.S. spacecraft to make a soft landing on the moon. The spacecraft transmitted television pictures back to earth. (See February 3, 1966.)
June 8, 1966:ACCIDENTA midair collision with an F-104 over Barstow, CA, destroyed one of the two XB-70 experimental aircraft built by North American Aviation. (See September 21, 1964, and March 25, 1967.)
Friday, June 17, 1966:FAA consolidated the Pacific Region area offices on the Hawaiian Islands of Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, and Molokai into one area office in Honolulu. (See June 10, 1965.)
Tuesday, June 28, 1966:The design of the Dulles International Airport terminal building won for Eero Saarinen and Associates one of three “first honors” awards for architectural excellence presented by the American Institute of Architects for 1966. The awards jury cited the Dulles terminal for conveying the “free and graceful movement that we associate with flight,” and stated that the entire project set “a new high in architectural achievement by the Federal Government.” (See February 22, 1978.)
Thursday, June 30, 1966:The Lockheed L-286 helicopter became the first rigid-rotor helicopter to receive FAA type certification.
Thursday, June 30, 1966:During fiscal 1966, which ended on this date, FAA’s interests in 21 airports owned, operated, or maintained by the agency were transferred to the state of Alaska. The FAA-owned facilities transferred to the state were intermediate airports at Cold Bay and 7 other locations. FAA continued for a time to own 7 other intermediate airports in Alaska, but by 1996 the agency owned only one of these facilities. During the same fiscal year, FAA also returned the international field office at San Francisco to the line control of the Pacific Region’s Flight Standards Division. In fiscal 1965 the field office had been assimilated to the area-manager concept by being placed under an FAA representative responsible directly to the Director, Pacific Region.
June 1966:FAA implemented the performance and reliability system (PAR) designed to monitor mechanical reliability in the airline industry as represented by 15 participating airlines. Regularly updated information on selected safety parameters were displayed in graphs and charts for each airline. The performance patterns thus revealed allowed inspectors to concentrate on problem areas and reduce routine inspections. In a related effort to improve monitoring of air carrier compliance with operational and maintenance rules, FAA partially implemented the Systemworthiness Analysis Program (SWAP) on July 1. Under this program, the agency strategically based teams of inspectors within an inspection area to complement small cadres of inspectors domiciled at the carriers’ main operations and maintenance bases. The resident cadres maintained routine surveillance, while the SWAP teams, periodically and as necessary, performed in-depth inspections of air carrier programs for keeping their personnel and materiel up to standards. FAA fully implemented SWAP during fiscal 1968.
Friday, July 1, 1966:The Slick Corporation ceased air transport operations, transferring most of its assets to Airlift International. The company had begun flying on March 4, 1946, under the name Slick Airways. It had become the nation’s largest all-cargo commercial airline by 1951, but had encountered difficulties as passenger airlines increasingly competed for air freight.
July 8-August 19, 1966:A strike by the International Association of Machinists halted for 43 days the flight operations of Eastern, National, Northwest, TWA, and United. This was the longest and costliest strike in U.S. airline history to that date.
Monday, July 11, 1966:A joint planning document effective on this date set forth the responsibilities of FAA and DOD in developing plans and procedures for using non-air-carrier civil aircraft to support civil defense during a national emergency.
Tuesday, July 12, 1966:Effective this date, FAA established a policy that television towers or other structures in excess of 2,000 feet above the ground were presumed to be hazards to air navigation. The agency would only rule that no hazard existed in exceptional cases in which an applicant had shown clearly that the structure would cause no danger of inefficient use of airspace.
Thursday, August 18, 1966:ATCFAA commissioned the nation’s 300th civilian airport traffic control tower at Hillsboro, OR. Dedication ceremonies were held on August 28.
Thursday, September 1, 1966:A voluntary agreement effective this date limited operations at Washington National Airport to a maximum of 60 Instrument Flight Rules operations per hour — 40 for air carriers and 20 for general aviation. If air carrier IFR operations dropped below 40 per hour, general aviation would assume the unused “slots.” The agreement had been reached between FAA and the aviation groups using the airport, and approved by CAB. The need to limit operations at Washington National had risen from crowded conditions in the terminal buildings and on the runways, and from the rise in noise complaints since the introduction of jets into the airport. On July 1, 1966, FAA had issued a new operating policy, to be effective August 7, 1966, which required flights originating or departing from National to land on their first stop within a radius of 500 miles from Washington, DC. This would have reduced the 650-mile radius agreed to in April by the airlines serving National (see April 24, 1966, and May 26, 1981). Shrinking the perimeter served by National, FAA had calculated, would have reduced the flow of passenger traffic through the terminal from 22,000 people daily to a manageable 18,000. FAA decided, however, to drop the more restrictive perimeter rule in favor of a rule limiting operations at National to 60 per hour. The quota rule was never issued because the airport users’ voluntary agreement made it unnecessary. With FAA’s and CAB’s blessing, a scheduling committee composed of representatives of carriers serving the airport was constituted to distribute slots among its membership. The agreement formally expired on December 1, 1966, but its terms were continued in force voluntarily. (See Spring 1967 and June 1, 1969.)
Friday, September 9, 1966:The Interagency Bird Hazard Committee, formed to exchange and consolidate data useful in developing methods for reducing the danger of collisions between birds and airplanes, held its first meeting. Represented on the committee were FAA, NASA, the Civil Aeronautics Board, the Department of Interior, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and the three armed services.
Sunday, September 11, 1966:Tracy Barnes completed the first hot-air-balloon flight across the contiguous United States, landing near Villas, NJ, near the eastern shore of the Delaware Bay. He had departed San Diego, CA, on April 10, 1966. The flight took twice the time Barnes had originally estimated due to mishaps, including one that hospitalized him for three days, and unfavorable winds. Hot air ballooning had emerged as a popular sport in the early 1960s. (See August 11-17, 1978.)
Monday, September 19, 1966:An FAA rule effective this date required U.S.-registered civil aircraft operating outside the United States to meet basically the same operational and maintenance standards as those prescribed for operations within the United States.
Friday, September 30, 1966:FAA consolidated its aeromedical research function into one location by transferring such activities at the Georgetown Clinical Research Institute, Washington, DC, to the Aeronautical Center’s Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City. (See November 21, 1965.)
Saturday, October 15, 1966:President Johnson signed the Department of Transportation Act (Public Law 89-670), bringing 31 previously scattered Federal elements, including FAA, under the wing of one Cabinet Department. The purpose of the new Department was to: assure the coordinated, effective administration of the transportation programs of the Federal Government; facilitate the development and improvement of coordinated transportation service, to be provided by private enterprise to the maximum extent feasible; encourage cooperation of Federal, State, and local governments, carriers, labor, and other interested parties toward the achievement of national transportation objectives; stimulate technological advances in transportation; provide general leadership in the identification and solution of transportation problems; and develop and recommend to the President and the Congress national transportation policies and programs to accomplish these objectives with full consideration of the needs of the public, users, carriers, industry, labor, and the national defense.
The legislation provided for five initial major operating elements within the Department. Four of these organizations were headed by an Administrator: the Federal Aviation Administration (previously the independent Federal Aviation Agency); the Federal Highway Administration; the Federal Railroad Administration; and the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. The new Department also contained the U.S. Coast Guard, which was headed by a Commandant and had previously been part of the Treasury Department.
The DOT Act also created within the new Department a five-member National Transportation Safety Board. The act charged the NTSB with (1) determining the cause or probable cause of transportation accidents and reporting the facts, conditions, and circumstances relating to such accidents; and (2) reviewing on appeal the suspension, amendment, modification, revocation, or denial of any certificate or license issued by the Secretary or by an Administrator. In the exercise of its functions, powers, and duties, the Board was made independent of the Secretary and the other offices and officers of the Department.
Two important differences between President Johnson’s proposal (see March 2, 1966) and the final DOT Act were: (1) the Maritime Administration was left out, and (2) the actions of the FAA Administrator relating to safety, and the decisions of the NTSB, were designated “administratively final” with appeals only to the courts. Three months after signing the DOT Act, Johnson appointed the first Secretary of Transportation (see January 16, 1967). The new Department began full operations on April 1, 1967. (See March 2, 1966, January 16, 1967, and April 1, 1967.)
Monday, October 17, 1966:Effective this date, FAA required pilots to have a helicopter instrument rating to operate a helicopter under Instrument Flight Rules conditions.
Thursday, October 20, 1966:FAA type-certificated the 206A Bell JetRanger, a five-place, rotary-wing, turbine-powered general-purpose helicopter. This highly successful helicopter had first flown on January 10, 1966.
Friday, November 4, 1966:The United States and the Soviet Union signed an agreement authorizing commercial airline service between New York and Moscow. (See April 1, 1960, and July 15, 1968.)
Saturday, November 5, 1966:A two-day exercise designated Metro Air Support ’66 began as a demonstration of aviation’s ability to provide emergency access and logistic support to a city center. The first major operation of its kind, it involved more than 200 airplanes, helicopters, and Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) aircraft. FAA was a key participant in planning the exercise, and a number of airlines cooperated by flying supplies from distant points to airports in the New York City vicinity. The key operation involved airlifting supplies from the fringes of the city to its center, which was accomplished by helicopters and STOL aircraft. The exercise had its headquarters at a pier on the Hudson River, and one of its objectives was to encourage the development of waterfront locations for STOL ground facilities. (See April 1966 and June 30, 1968.)
November 20-29, 1966:The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) board of directors adopted an article to its constitution and by-laws providing that all future turbine-powered transports (excluding ‘stretch’ models of the turbine-powered, twin-engine aircraft presently certificated) be manned by a minimum crew of three pilots. On June 29, 1967, ALPA formally proposed to FAA’s Western Region, and to the FAA Administrator on August 8, 1967, that a three-man crew be incorporated in the 737 cockpit, then under development. (See April 21, 1965 and July 25, 1967.)
Monday, December 5, 1966:Bureau of National Capital Airports headquarters personnel moved from FAA headquarters in Washington, DC, to Falls Church, VA. The move allowed the Bureau, which operated Washington National and Dulles International Airports, to be centrally located between the two airports. The Eastern Region’s Washington Area Office also moved from Washington to Falls Church during December. (See June 14, 1959.)
Tuesday, December 6, 1966:ATCThe launching of NASA’s first applications technology satellite (ATS I) on this date afforded FAA the first opportunity to evaluate a satellite as an air-ground-air relay for long-distance very-high-frequency radio voice communications. The 775-pound spin-stabilized satellite transmitted voice messages of excellent clarity originating either from the ground or from flying aircraft. Both FAA and air carrier aircraft took part in the testing, conducted during 1966 and 1967. (See March 29, 1967.)
Saturday, December 31, 1966:FAA declared the Boeing Company and the General Electric Company winners of the supersonic transport (SST) development program competitive design and study phase (Phase IIC). The agency selected Boeing’s variable-sweep-wing airframe design over the Lockheed Corporation’s double-delta-wing design and General Electric’s after-burning turbojet engine over the Pratt & Whitney duct-burning turbofan engine. The selections were based on an intensive two-month evaluation conducted by a 240-person team of aeronautical experts from the Defense Department, NASA, CAB, and FAA. In addition, 10 U.S. and foreign airlines independently evaluated the proposals and submitted individual recommendations. (See July 1, 1965, and February 6, 1967.)
Calendar Year 1966:In crossing the North Atlantic, 89 percent of the year’s travelers went by air and 11 percent by sea. Total passengers were estimated to be 5,322,000, of which 4,720,000 flew and 602,000 sailed. (See Calendar year 1958 and May 8, 1967.
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.