Tuesday, January 7, 1969:FAA imposed additional airworthiness standards for small airplanes used in air taxi operations under Special Federal Aviation Regulation 23, effective this date. The standards applied to piston-powered and turboprop airplanes weighing 12,500 pounds or less and capable of carrying more than 10 occupants, including the flightcrew. (See September 7, 1964, and December 1, 1978.)
Wednesday, January 15, 1969:The U.S. Civil Service Commission (CSC) ruled that the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) was an employee organization, not a professional society, because it had sought and obtained a dues-withholding agreement. FAA had agreed to permit a voluntary payroll deduction plan for the payment of PATCO dues with the understanding that PATCO would remain a professional society. As a result of the CSC ruling, PATCO became subject to the Standards of Conduct and the Code of Fair Labor Practices. At the same time, however, PATCO became eligible for formal recognition as a labor bargaining organization under Executive Order 10988. (See July 19, 1968, and June 11, 1969.)
Wednesday, January 15, 1969:FAA adopted a method of regulating the flow of traffic into the Metropolitan New York area. The new procedures went into effect each time the delay forecast for IFR aircraft flying into New York exceeded one hour. When this happened, the flow of air traffic into New York was limited by keeping New York-bound aircraft on the ground at their points of departure. Though the new procedures did little or nothing to reduce the length of delays incurred by New York-bound aircraft, they did reduce the length of time spent in airborne holding patterns to an hour or less. This, in turn, reduced congestion on the airways leading to New York and facilitated the flow of non-New York traffic using or crossing these routes. (See July 19, 1968, and June 25, 1970.)
Wednesday, January 15, 1969:The Boeing Company submitted to FAA for evaluation a new supersonic transport (SST) configuration, a delta-wing design with a horizontal tail. A 100-person review team drawn from FAA, NASA, and the Defense Department found that Boeing had adequately integrated the new design.
In February, President Nixon appointed an interdepartmental committee headed by Under Secretary of Transportation James M. Beggs to review the SST program. The committee’s report, submitted in early April, contained mixed views on the program’s future. Secretary of Transportation Volpe, however, continued to advise in favor of the program.
On September 23, 1969, Nixon announced that the SST development program would be continued because the project was essential to maintaining U.S. leadership in world air transport. The President requested Congress to appropriate $96 million during fiscal year 1970 ($662 million over a five-year period, fiscal 1970 through fiscal 1974) to pursue the program. (See October 21, 1968, and April 6, 1970.)
Monday, January 20, 1969:Richard M. Nixon became President, succeeding Lyndon B. Johnson.
Wednesday, January 22, 1969:John A. Volpe became Secretary of Transportation, succeeding Alan S. Boyd (see January 16, 1967), who had resigned with the change in administrations. Volpe, a successful building contractor, had served as Governor of Massachusetts. (See February 2, 1973.)
Monday, January 27, 1969:Under an FAA contract, the University of Ohio initiated a five-year study seeking to improve the overall capabilities of the existing instrument landing system, giving particular attention to interference problems. The contractor examined existing criteria for controlling taxiing aircraft on or near ILS runways and also examined criteria for taxi-strip and warmup-area construction. This part of the study had largely been prompted by the introduction of the Boeing 747 and the Lockheed C-5A, which, because of their size, could seriously interfere with ILS signals. Another part of the study dealt with the possible effects of hangars, buildings, powerlines, and terrain on electronic signals. A computer manufacturer developed a mathematical model and a generalized computer program for predicting these effects for the study.
January 1969:Eight U.S. airliners were hijacked to Cuba during the month (see February 21, 1968). In February, FAA created an eight-man Task Force on the Deterrence of Air Piracy that combined a broad spectrum of expertise under the leadership of the Deputy Federal Air Surgeon (see August 3, 1970). Systematic study by the Task Force revealed that a hijacker “profile” could be constructed from behavioral characteristics shared by past perpetrators. When used in conjunction with a magnetometer weapons-screening device developed by the agency, the profile system offered a promising method of preventing potential hijackers from boarding aircraft. On October 15, FAA announced that Eastern Air Lines was using the system at several key locations. By June 15, 1970, four U.S. air carriers were employing the system. (See July 17, 1970.)
Tuesday, February 4, 1969:The XB-70 supersonic research aircraft made its final flight, from Edwards AFB, CA, to Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, where it was placed on exhibit in the Air Force Museum. (See March 25, 1967.)
Sunday, February 9, 1969:The Boeing 747, the first of the wide-body jetliners, made its initial flight. On September 30, 1968, Boeing had unveiled the large subsonic jet, which was powered by four Pratt & Whitney JT9D-3 turbofan engines, each rated at 43,500 pounds of thrust. The plane had a maximum takeoff weight of 710,000 pounds and a maximum payload of 220,000 pounds. Its seating capacity ranged up to 490 passengers, although most airlines planned a seating configuration in the 350-365 range. FAA certificated the 747 on December 30, 1969. Pan American World Airways, which on April 13, 1966, had placed the first order for the 747s at a cost of $525 million for 25, became the first airline to operate the new wide-body as the 747 entered service with a takeoff from New York for London on January 22, 1970. Trans World Airlines inaugurated the first transcontinental 747 service, between Los Angeles and New York, on February 25, 1970.
Thursday, February 20, 1969:Theodore C. Uebel, an FAA International Liaison Officer, received the first International Aviation Service Award. The award, which recognized singular achievements in advancing the cause of international aviation, was financed by private donations from FAA employees.
Friday, February 21, 1969:To keep pace with the growth of the U.S. civil aviation fleet, FAA expanded the number of aircraft identification numbers available. The identification numbers continued to consist of the prefix letter “N”, followed by not more than five symbols. These symbols could consist of all numerals (e.g., N10000), or of one to four numerals with a suffix letter (e.g., N1000A). In the past, FAA had sometimes also assigned identification numbers with one to three numerals and two suffix letters (e.g, N100AB), but only to fulfill certain special requests. Now, however, FAA permitted the unrestricted issuance of these identification numbers consisting of one to three numerals and two suffix letters. This change increased the number of available identification numbers from about 339,000 to about 739,000.
Thursday, February 27, 1969:FAA launched the Experimental Aviation Technology Education Project in cooperation with a number of institutions of higher learning to establish college-level programs responsive to the manpower needs of the aviation community and FAA. Curriculums at the institutions combined broad liberal arts educational subjects and aviation-oriented academic study with on-the-job experience at FAA facilities. After a two-year test period at 15 schools, FAA removed this program from the experimental stage, renamed the work study program, and transferred it from the Washington Headquarters to FAA’s Regional Offices.
Wednesday, March 5, 1969:A Puerto Rico International Airlines (PRINAIR) de Havilland 114 Heron crashed near San Juan, PR, killing all 19 persons aboard. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) listed the probable cause as the vectoring of the aircraft into mountainous terrain by a controller performing beyond the safe limits of his performance capability and without adequate supervision. NTSB noted that a routine psychological test in 1966 had suggested that the controller suffered from high anxiety and low stress tolerance. He then received psychiatric and psychological examinations, after which the regional flight surgeon pronounced him fit for duty. NTSB concluded the controller’s problems with anxiety and stress, in combination with other factors, might have caused his inadequate duty performance. NTSB therefore recommended that FAA expand the psychiatric and psychological assessment of controllers, and place such assessment under the strict supervision of qualified psychiatrists and psychologists. In reply, FAA pointed to the appointment of a panel of psychiatrists and psychologists to assist the Federal Air Surgeon.
Friday, March 7, 1969:A Civil Aeronautics Board rule effective this date imposed the first Federal requirement for air taxi operators to carry liability insurance covering passengers as well as persons and property on the ground. The minimum coverage was $75,000 per person and $100,000 for property damage.
Thursday, March 20, 1969:FAA published a proposal to require air taxis and small aircraft flown by commercial operators to carry crash locator beacons and other survival equipment. FAA’s proposal referred to public and congressional concern generated in recent years by accidents in which survivors had perished because rescuers could not locate the crash site. The agency also noted the expansion of air taxi operations to include larger aircraft over longer routes, and the disappearance in February 1969 of a DC-3 on an air taxi flight from Hawthorne, NV. (See February 26, 1968, and December 29, 1970.)
Monday, March 24, 1969:John H. Shaffer became the fourth FAA Administrator, succeeding William F. McKee (see July 1, 1965). President Nixon had nominated Shaffer on March 6 and the Senate confirmed the nomination on March 20. Born in Everett, PA, in 1919, Shaffer earned his wings while still at West Point. Graduating in January 1943, at the height of World War II, he went on to fly 46 combat missions as a B-26 pilot with the 9th Air Forces in Europe. In 1946, while still in uniform, he earned an M.S. degree from Columbia University. This was followed by successive assignments as production project officer of the Army Air Forces B-50 program (1946-48) and weapons system program manager of the Air Force’s B-47 program (1948-54). In January 1954, he resigned his Air Force commission with the rank of lieutenant colonel to become general production manager and assistant plant manager of the Ford Motor Company’s Mercury assembly plant in Metuchen, NJ. Three years later, he joined TRW, Inc., an aerospace conglomerate. Shaffer resigned his position as corporate vice president (customer requirements) of TRW to become FAA Administrator, a post which he held for nearly four years. He resigned, as part of a broad Nixon Administration reorganization, effective March 14, 1973 (see that date). After leaving FAA, Shaffer remained active in aviation as a consultant and served as a board member of several companies. He died on September 14, 1997.
Thursday, March 27, 1969:FAA created an Equal Opportunity Staff, headed by a Director of Equal Opportunity, and transferred the equal opportunity and civil rights functions of the Office of Compliance and Security to the new staff. On May 19, 1969, the staff became the Office of Civil Rights. The head of the office, who reported directly to the Administrator, was titled the Director of Civil Rights (later the Assistant Administrator for Civil Rights). The new office’s responsibilities included assuring: that FAA offered equal opportunities to all employees eligible for advancement and all qualified job applicants; that employment practices of FAA contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, and recipients of FAA grants-in-aid conformed with Federal civil rights regulations; and that FAA programs and activities affecting housing and urban development were consistent with the fair housing provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. FAA’s action was in response to a call by the Secretary of Transportation to “do everything the letter and the spirit of the law provide in order to make equal opportunity a reality.” An Office of Civil Rights had been established in the Office of the Secretary on December 14, 1968.
Friday, March 28, 1969:The first charter flight from the United States to the Soviet Union departed New York via an Overseas National Airways aircraft. On June 6, 1970, Alaska Airlines inaugurated the first of a series of charter flights from Anchorage to Khabarovsk, U.S.S.R.
Wednesday, April 23, 1969:FAA abolished the Kenai and Cordova (Alaska) Area Offices. The Anchorage and Juneau Area Offices absorbed the territory formerly served by these offices. (See June 20, 1968 and February 27, 1970.)
April 23-25, 1969:More than 800 aviation community representatives attended the first National Aviation System Planning Review Conference, held in Washington, DC. The conference featured seminars covering subjects discussed in FAA’s first 10-year National Aviation System Plan (1970-79). In preparing the following year’s version of the Plan, FAA reviewed the views expressed at the seminars, together with documented proposals submitted by the aviation community. The conference was held on an annual basis as a forum for government/industry discussion of FAA’s long-range plans and policies.
Sunday, April 27, 1969:The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced the retirement of the two extant X-15 rocket research aircraft. The X-15 had first flown on June 8, 1959; it made its final flight on October 24, 1968. (See October 3, 1967.)
April 1969:FAA launched an automated airport data system for collecting, processing, and disseminating data on all civil and joint-use airports, heliports, Short Takeoff and Landing airports, and seaplane bases in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The system, capable of storing up to 137 data elements for each landing facility, would provide data for use in pilot briefings, flight planning, airspace clearance, airport planning, and aeronautical chart production.
April 1969:FAA issued a report recommending ways of relieving congestion at 18 of the nation’s busiest airports. The short-range recommendations included improving traffic flow on the airfield through additional runway exits, access taxiways, holding and staging aprons, and expanded terminal aprons, and creating additional runway capacity through runway extension and grooving. Long-range recommendations included: review of noise-abatement procedures and restrictions; construction of new general aviation airports and new air carrier airports; installation of NAVAIDs; and installation of landing aids at reliever airports to attract general aviation traffic.
Monday, May 5, 1969:FAA announced the establishment of two new engineering and manufacturing district offices — one in Kansas City, MO, and one in Chicago — bringing the nationwide total of such offices to 21. From these offices, FAA’s manufacturing inspectors worked with companies and individuals seeking certification or approval of airframes, aircraft engines, propellers, parts, or appliances for use in civil aviation.
Thursday, May 8, 1969:The Martin Marietta X-24A rocket-powered, manned, lifting-body research aircraft made a successful 4-minute glider (unpowered) flight at Edwards AFB, CA. The X-24A was released from underneath the wing of a B-52 Stratofortress at 45,000 feet. The aircraft made its first powered flight on March 19, 1970. Development of the X-24A came as part of Martin Marietta’s program to develop a maneuvering manned re-entry vehicle able to perform as a spacecraft in orbit, fly in Earth’s atmosphere like an aircraft, and land at conventional airports.
Wednesday, May 14, 1969:Hamburger Flugzeubau GmbH and Messerschmitt-Bolkow GmbH merged to form Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm, the largest aerospace concern in Germany.
Thursday, May 22, 1969:Administrator Shaffer requested plans for consolidating regional and area offices located in the same city within the contiguous United States. The move offered operating economies and the saving of numerous positions that could be used to fill critical “firing line” position shortages. FAA implemented the consolidations during late summer 1969, and completed the transfer of functions and personnel to the appropriate regional divisions on September 8. The agency eliminated the area officers in Atlanta, Fort Worth, Kansas City, Los Angeles, and New York as they gave up their functions and resources to the regional headquarters located in the same city. (See November 22, 1968 and April 2, 1971.)
Sunday, June 1, 1969:The shifting of the New York common IFR room from a manual radar system to a computerized alphanumeric radar system further enhanced the traffic-handling capabilities of the New York terminal area. The semiautomated system permitted an aircraft equipped with a beacon transponder to provide the terminal controller automatically with information on its identity, altitude, range, and bearing. Under the old system, the controller could obtain an aircraft’s altitude and identity only through voice contact with the aircraft’s pilot. (See July 15, 1968.)
Sunday, June 1, 1969:In response to growing congestion, FAA implemented a rule placing quotas on instrument flight rule (IFR) operations at five of the nation’s busiest airports between 6 a.m. and midnight. The rule assigned the following hourly quotas: Kennedy International, 80 (70 for air carriers and supplementals; 5 for scheduled air taxis; 5 for general aviation); O’Hare, 135 (115 for air carriers and supplementals; 10 for scheduled air taxis; 10 for general aviation); La Guardia, 60 (48 for air carriers and supplementals; 6 for scheduled air taxis; 6 for general aviation); Newark, 60 (40 for air carriers and supplementals; 10 for scheduled air taxis; 10 for general aviation); Washington National, 60 (40 for air carriers and supplementals; 8 for scheduled air taxis; 12 for general aviation). The rule did not charge extra sections of scheduled air carrier flights (such as hourly shuttle flights) against the established quotas, except at Kennedy; this airport, however, was permitted 10 extra air carrier operations per hour during the peak traffic period between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.
IFR flights were required to make advanced reservations for each operation. Pilots obtained IFR reservations by contacting the Airport Reservation Office (established May 30, 1969) in Washington, DC, or any FAA flight service station. Aircraft under visual flight rules (VFR) made arrival reservations in the air when approximately 30 miles from their intended destination. Departure reservations for such aircraft were handled by the air traffic control facilities serving these five high-density airports.
Originally implemented for a six-month period, this “High Density Rule” was subsequently extended to October 25, 1970. On that date, the hourly limitations on operations were suspended at Newark, where peak operations during fiscal 1970 had averaged 18 less than the assigned quota of 60. At the same time, the quotas were extended for another year at the other four airports. In taking this action, FAA noted that the percentage of aircraft delays at the five airports had decreased substantially since the rule was put into effect.
On August 24, 1971, FAA published an amendment extending the High Density Rule until October 25, 1972. Flight limitations remained unchanged at LaGuardia and Washington National, but at O’Hare and Kennedy the quotas were now in effect only between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. The relaxation was due in part to a decline in aviation activity during a general downturn in the U.S. economy.
An amendment published on October 25, 1972, extended the High Density Rule until the same date in 1973, when another amendment was published giving it an indefinite extension. At the same time, FAA eliminated the requirement that pilots operating under visual flight rules at all five airports file a flight plan. FAA believed this requirement was no longer necessary since these airports were now operating under the terminal control area concept, which required pilots to establish radio communications with the tower and receive permission to enter the terminal airspace. (See March 23, 1978, November 3, 1980, and March 6, 1984.)
Wednesday, June 4, 1969:FAA and the Central American Corporation for Air Navigation Services (COCESNA) signed a contract under which FAA would provide technical assistance for air navigation and traffic control services to COCESNA, a five-nation governmental group whose members were Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. FAA had traditionally provided technical assistance to Latin American countries under the sponsorship of the State Department’s Agency for International Development; however, this was the first time FAA provided such services to these countries under a direct reimbursable contract.
Wednesday, June 11, 1969:Russell J. Sommer, PATCO’s Western Coordinator, notified PATCO Southwest delegates of upcoming FAA testimony before Congress on a PATCO-supported controller career bill. “If testimony not favorable,” Sommer wrote, “D-Day June 18th!” In opposing the bill before a congressional committee on June 17, FAA Administrator John Shaffer characterized controllers as “well-paid” considering their educational level. That evening, PATCO counsel F. Lee Bailey appeared on the NBC “Tonight Show” and reportedly told host Johnny Carson, “I’d start walking if I were you.” (See January 15, 1969, and June 18-20, 1969.)
Monday, June 16, 1969:FAA commissioned the Anchorage air route traffic control center’s new building, located on Elmendorf AFB. Formal dedication ceremonies were on August 21, 1969.
Monday, June 16, 1969:The Nixon Administration submitted to Congress the Aviation Facilities Expansion Bill of 1969, proposed legislation to expand and improve the nation’s airway and airport systems and to provide revenue to support this expansion. Similar legislation had been submitted to Congress by President Johnson (see May 20, 1968), but was not acted on. Features of the Nixon Administration’s proposals included:
- Increasing the outlay for airway facilities and equipment to $250 million a year over the next 10 years. (During the decade of the sixties, annual appropriations for airway facilities and equipment averaged $93 million.)
- Increasing the average yearly Federal outlay for airport development to $250 million over the next 10 years. (In the past, Congress had appropriated approximately $65 million a year in FAAP funds.)
- Imposing (1) an 8 percent tax on domestic airline passenger tickets; (2) a $3 surcharge on passenger tickets for international flights originating in the United States; (3) a 5 percent tax on air-freight waybills; and (4) a 9-cent-a-gallon tax on gasoline and jet fuel used by general aviation aircraft.
- Placing the revenues generated by the new taxes in a designated account in the U.S. Treasury to be used exclusively for airway and airport development. (See September 20, 1967, and May 21, 1970.)