Monday, January 3, 1972:Under a policy change effective this date, certain privately owned public-use airports became eligible for FAA facilities such as control towers, airport surveillance radars, terminal navigation aids, instrument landing systems, visual approach aids, and related equipment and services. Previously, only publicly owned airports were eligible for this assistance. The agency described the new policy as a response to a shortage of facilities serving the growing civil air fleet and to mounting opposition to development of new airports.
Wednesday, January 5, 1972:Betty C. Dillon, a career civil servant, became the first woman to be sworn in as Minister of the U.S. Government to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Friday, January 21, 1972:FAA commissioned the first operational Category IIIa instrument landing system at Dulles International Airport. The system, a British-made STAN 37/38, allowed qualified crews flying properly equipped aircraft to land with a runway visibility range (horizontal visibility) of 700 feet and a decision height (vertical visibility) of zero. Previously, the lowest landing minimums had been a 100-foot decision height and a 1,200-foot RVR, the Category II criteria (see November 3, 1967). FAA outlined criteria that had to be met before Category IIIa minimums could be approved–airport and ground facilities, airborne systems, pilot training and proficiency requirement, operations procedures, and maintenance standards–in an advisory circular published on December 14, 1971. (The Lockheed L-1011 became the first newly certificated aircraft to be equipped with flight guidance equipment that met the Category IIIa criteria.) (See September 1972.)
Wednesday, January 26, 1972:FAA began a series of briefings for manufacturers as part of a new program to promote the export of U.S. aeronautical goods and services. The action was a response to requests by aeronautical manufacturers for the government to develop mechanisms to help them deal with stiffening foreign competition in world markets. The program involved: providing information on export opportunities through reports on the implementation of regional air navigation plans of the International Civil Aviation Organization; and formulating plans for eventual revision of bilateral airworthiness agreements as a way of facilitating U.S. exports and promoting worldwide commonality in airworthiness standards. (See Calendar year 1974.)
Thursday, January 27, 1972:The Secretary of Transportation signed an agreement transferring certain emergency preparedness functions from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to FAA. The agreement applied to the air transportation activities and services provided by U.S. scheduled and supplemental air carriers operating under the economic regulatory authority of CAB and assigned to the War Air Service Program. It excluded air carrier services provided to the Department of Defense under the Civil Reserve Air Fleet Program. Under the agreement, FAA had responsibility for: assessing enemy-inflicted damage relating to air carriers; assisting air carriers in submitting claims for and restoring materials and services needed to resume air service deemed essential by CAB.
Thursday, January 27, 1972:Secretary of Transportation John Volpe announced that FAA had awarded contracts to six companies for the initial phase of a planned five-year development program for a microwave landing system (MLS) for use by civil and military aircraft. (See July 1971 and March 14, 1973.)
Saturday, January 1, 1972:FAA announced the Executive Development Program to identify and develop individuals in supervisory and managerial positions (GS-14 and -15) who had potential for occupying the agency’s executive positions. On September 17, an initial group of eight candidates began their training.
Wednesday, February 2, 1972:FAA published a rule requiring scheduled air carriers and certain commercial operators of large aircraft to implement a passenger and baggage screening system acceptable to the Administrator before February 6, 1972 (see July 17, 1970, and March 7-9, 1972). The agency stated its opinion that the “simple and inexpensive” system used by some carriers would have prevented the majority of recent hijackings if used to the fullest extent possible (see January 1969).
On the same day, at FAA request, the Federal Communications Commission issued a notice which informed broadcasters and FCC licensees that the Communications Act of 1934 prohibited unauthorized broadcast of FAA air-to-ground communications. This action followed instances in which FAA’s communications were monitored and rebroadcast, seriously hampering FAA’s efforts to control aerial piracy.
Monday, February 7, 1972:FAA announced that air traffic controllers fired for their activist roles in the 1970 strike could apply for re-employment. Of the 52 controllers dismissed, 46 applied and were rehired. (See January 29, 1971, and October 20, 1972.)
Thursday, February 10, 1972:FAA consolidated the National Airspace System Program Office (NASPO) with the Systems Research and Development Service. On July 26 FAA abolished NASPO, established in 1966 (see April 25, 1966). As the installation of NAS En Route Stage A at FAA’s ARTCCs was proceeding satisfactorily, there was no further need for a separate office to manage this program. Also, effective July 26, FAA transferred NASPO’s facilities systems and ARTCC building program functions to the Airway Facilities Service.
Tuesday, February 29, 1972:Following a nationwide election, the National Association of Air Traffic Specialists (NAATS) received Department of Labor certification as the national exclusive representative for all Flight Service Station specialists, some 3,000 employees. On June 1, 1972, FAA and NAATS concluded an agencywide collective bargaining agreement, the first such contract between FAA and a national labor organization and the first in a series of FAA/NAATS contracts.
Monday, March 6, 1972:FAA announced the establishment of an FAA-Industry Area Navigation Task Force to advise and assist the agency in the further application of its area navigation system. The action followed a January 24-25, FAA-sponsored international symposium on area navigation that pointed up a need to review FAA’s program. In subsequent months the task force conducted in-depth studies and tests to assess the system’s value and to determine how area navigation could most effectively be implemented. The test results generally confirmed the advantages previously supposed (see October 1, 1969) — that area navigation provided cost benefits by allowing an aircraft en route to stay higher longer and thus conserve fuel, and to arrive at the descent point at precisely the correct time for a letdown without delays. In addition, by extensively analyzing terminal area operations, the tests confirmed that area navigation equipment could be used to move traffic at the same level of efficiency as radar vectors while reducing controller workload by restoring greater responsibility to the cockpit. By the end of fiscal 1973, a nationwide system of high-altitude area navigation routes had been established consisting of approximately 156 route segments.
March 7-9, 1972:Sabotage incidents prompted new security measures. On March 7, a bomb planted as part of an extortion plot against Trans World Airlines was discovered and defused aboard an airliner at New York’s Kennedy Airport. On March 9, another bomb damaged a TWA airliner parked at Las Vegas, and a third was found aboard a United Air Lines jet at Seattle. That same day, President Nixon ordered into immediate effect an FAA rule published on March 7 that had required scheduled air carriers and certain commercial operators of large aircraft to submit written security programs no later than June 5, 1972. The President’s directive required the airlines to implement their programs immediately, and to submit them for formal approval by May 8. The programs were to prevent or deter unauthorized persons, baggage, or cargo from entering the carrier’s aircraft, and were to include the procedures the carrier intended to use in the mandatory passenger screening system (see February 2, 1972). The rule also specified certain procedures to be followed in the event of a bomb or air piracy threat.
On March 9, the President also ordered that new security rules for airport operators be expedited. On March 18, 1972, FAA published a rule applicable to operators of airports regularly served by air carriers using large aircraft. Such operators were required to take prescribed actions to prevent or deter unauthorized access to designated air operations areas, and to submit written security programs for FAA approval by June 16, 1972. (See January 3, 1989.)
On March 15, a cabinet-level task force formed by President Nixon and chaired by Transportation Secretary Volpe approved the following steps:
- Increased personnel for FAA’s Security Task Force.
- Deployment of sky marshals from airborne duty to posts at major airports.
- Increased research and development funding for weapons and explosives detection systems.
- Use of trained dogs for detection of explosives at major airports and the training of additional dogs.
- Expedited prosecution of extortion and hijacking suspects.