Friday, January 4, 1991:In the first of a series of telecommunications failures which created air traffic control problems during this year, the AT&T company’s maintenance workers accidentally cut a fiber-optic telephone cable in New Jersey, disrupting communications between air traffic control sites and delaying air travel for several hours in the New York area. Other significant delays occurred: on May 4, when a farmer cut a fiber cable, limiting operations at four air route traffic control centers; on September 17, when an AT&T equipment failure in New York City cut controller communications and disrupted airline travel in the Northeast; and on November 5, when AT&T maintenance errors disrupted New England long distance telephone service, delaying flight operations at Boston Logan airport. (See May 8, 1988.)
Tuesday, January 8, 1991:Pan American World Airways filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy laws. On August 12, 1991, a Federal bankruptcy judge approved a deal under which Delta Air Lines would acquire major Pan American assets and also own 45 percent of a downsized PAA. On September 1, Delta began operating Pan Am’s shuttle serving Washington, New York, and Boston. On October 18, DOT gave final approval to the sale of most of Pan Am’s remaining transatlantic routes to Delta. (See December 4, 1991.)
Sunday, January 13, 1991:An “interim geographic adjustment” gave an eight percent pay raise to 5,933 FAA employees at facilities in the New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco areas. The adjustment did not result in raises for those already receiving local special pay rates of more than eight percent, or for those already receiving a 20 percent retention allowance under the Pay Demonstration Project (see June 18, 1989).
Wednesday, January 16, 1991:One day after the expiration of a United Nations deadline for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, military aircraft of the U.S.-led coalition began Operation Desert Storm, striking targets in Iraq and occupied Kuwait. At 7:00 pm EST, shortly after the attacks began, FAA declared Level 4 airport/airline security, the highest domestic level ever imposed. On January 17, the Department of Defense activated Level 2 of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) program, calling upon U.S. airlines to provide additional transport aircraft. American and allied troops routed Iraqi forces in a ground assault that began on February 24, and a U.S.-proclaimed ceasefire took effect at midnight EST on February 27. (See August 17, 1990, and May 14, 1991.)
Friday, January 18, 1991:Eastern Air Lines ceased flight operations as of midnight on this date, after nine months under the control of a trustee appointed by a bankruptcy judge (see April 18, 1990). On January 24, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers ended their strike of over 22 months against the airline. On February 27, Eastern agreed to plead guilty to Federal charges involving falsification of aircraft maintenance records, and was fined $3.5 million, while prosecutors dropped other related charges. The case stemmed from a grand jury indictment on July 25, 1990.
Wednesday, January 23, 1991:The Department of Transportation announced that it would relax restrictions on foreign investment in U.S. airlines. Under the new policy, investment of up to 49 percent of total equity obtained from foreign sources would not generally, by itself, be considered an indicator of foreign control.
Friday, February 1, 1991:In a night approach to Los Angeles International Airport, a USAir 737 landed atop a Sky West commuter Fairchild Metroliner III. Both planes then slid into a building as fire began. Fatalities included all 12 persons aboard the commuter flight and 22 of the 89 aboard the USAir flight. On October 22, the National Transportation Safety Board listed the accident’s probable cause as air traffic control management deficiencies that lead to a controller’s issuing inappropriate clearances. FAA actions after the accident included assigning additional controllers to the tower and adjusting runway lights to prevent glare from obstructing the view from the tower. (See February 7, 1991.)
Thursday, February 7, 1991:FAA announced a Runway Incursion Plan to cut incursions through actions that included tests of advances in runway marking, lighting, and signs at four airports: Boston, Seattle-Tacoma, Pittsburgh, and the new Denver airport under construction (see January 15, 1989). On February 15, the agency also amended its ATC Handbook to prohibit controllers from authorizing aircraft to hold at a taxiway/runway intersection at night or when the intersection was not visible from the tower. The change was among several that FAA had been considering as the result of a ground procedures review, begun in early 1990, that also resulted in the Runway Incursion Plan. (See February 1, 1991.)
Friday, February 8, 1991:FAA’s first annual Capital Investment Plan (CIP) became effective, superseding the National Airspace System Plan, or NASP (see January 28, 1982). The new plan incorporated the NASP projects, over 86 percent of which were completed or in field implementation. The CIP was issued to the public on April 23.
Thursday, February 14, 1991:First Lady Barbara Bush took a commercial flight from Washington, D.C., to Indianapolis to reassure the public about the terrorist threat to airline security stemming from the conflict with Iraq. (See January 16 and May 14, 1991.)
Monday, February 18, 1991:FAA announced plans to build a new terminal radar control (TRACON) facility at Elgin, Ill., to handle air traffic in the Chicago metropolitan area. Construction began during fiscal year 1993, and the facility was dedicated on November 10, 1996.
Tuesday, February 26, 1991:The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority dedicated a new terminal for international arrivals at Dulles International Airport.
Friday, March 1, 1991:The United States and 39 other nations signed a pact requiring the addition of a chemical marking agent to plastic explosives during manufacture to assist their identification by use of vapor detectors.
Sunday, March 3, 1991:All 25 persons aboard a United Airlines flight died when their Boeing 737 crashed on approach to Colorado Springs airport. Reported theories as to the cause included a “rotor” mountain wind pattern or a mechanical flaw. The National Transportation Safety Board conducted an exhaustive investigation, but reported on December 8, 1992, that it could not explain the crash. (See September 8, 1994.)
Monday, March 11, 1991:FAA began a series of hearings in New Jersey to obtain public comment on the noise effects of air traffic changes under the Expanded East Coast Plan (EECP), which had been implemented in phases between February 1987 and March 1988 (see August 25, 1988). The meetings reflected strong citizen discontent with the EECP. On June 28, FAA announced a contract with PRC, Inc., to assist in developing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the effects of New Jersey flight patterns revised under the EECP. In October 1992, Congress acted to freeze the pay levels of certain FAA employees involved with the project until the final impact statement was completed. In a response to another congressional action, FAA on October 28 announced a series of public meetings in New York and Connecticut as part of an Aircraft Noise Mitigation Review for the New York metropolitan area (see November 20, 1992). On November 12, 1992, FAA released a Draft Environmental Impact Statment (DEIS) on the EECP’s effects on New Jersey. The agency scheduled public hearings and gathered public views on the DEIS during a comment period that was subsequently extended until November 23, 1993. (See October 31, 1995.)
Sunday, March 31, 1991:Construction of the Development Demonstration Facility to assess segments of the Advanced Automation System was completed in Gaithersburg, MD. FAA accepted the facility on May 31, and the first operational suitability demonstration began on August 13.
Monday, April 1, 1991:A Northwest Airlines 747 began a series of test flights in Soviet airspace as part of a cooperative program to develop a satellite navigation system in which aircraft would receive signals from both the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Soviet Global Orbiting Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS). A US/USSR exchange of receivers took place in Montreal on April 27. GPS was a satellite-based radio-navigation system controlled by the U.S. Department of Defense. When completed, it would include 24 satellites orbiting 11,000 miles above the earth. At an International Civil Aviation Organization meeting on September 5, 1991, FAA Administrator Busey announced that the United States was offering world civil aviation the use of its GPS for at least 10 years, starting in 1993 when the system was to be fully operational. (See May 23, 1983, and October 14, 1992.)
Thursday, April 4, 1991:FAA completed transfer of more than 600,000 square miles of oceanic airspace from the Miami and Boston en route centers to the New York center. The action completed the last phase of a larger restructuring begun in September 1989, with transfer of airspace from the San Juan center to the New York center.
Thursday, April 4, 1991:FAA issued a rule increasing protection against cabin fires by upgrading requirements for lavatory fire detectors, lavatory trash receptacles, and hand fire extinguishers. (See March 29, 1985.)
Friday, April 5, 1991:An Embraer 120 commuter plane crashed on approach to Brunswick/Glynco Jetport, Ga. All 23 persons aboard the Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight died in the accident, including former Sen. John G. Tower (R-Tex.). Citing several incidents, FAA during May required inspections of certain Hamilton Standard propellers used on the Embraer 120 and other aircraft In April 1992, the National Transportation Safety Board cited the probable cause of the crash as malfunction of the left propeller control unit. As contributory factors, the Board listed deficiencies in the design of the control unit and FAA’s approval of that design.
Tuesday, April 16, 1991:FAA announced that educators could now obtain information on the agency’s aviation education programs by using any modem-equipped personal computer to access the Federal Education Information Exchange System (FEDIX).
Wednesday, April 17, 1991:The Supreme Court ruled that passengers on international flights can not recover damages for purely emotional or mental injuries. March 11, 1991: The United States and the United Kingdom reached an agreement on airline service which included permission for United and American Airlines to succeed Pan American and Trans World Airways in serving London Heathrow. In return, British airlines received supplementary rights involving increased access to U.S. airports.
Wednesday, May 1, 1991:A majority of those aviation safety inspectors casting ballots voted for representation by the Professional Airways Systems Specialists, known as PASS (see December 31, 1981). On May 10, PASS was certified as the bargaining agent for this previously non-union group of 1,913 FAA employees.
Thursday, May 2, 1991:FAA ordered the Collins version of the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System used on some airliners taken out of service temporarily for correction of a computer problem that led to false traffic warnings.
Tuesday, May 14, 1991:DOT completed the LORAN-C long range navigation system by closing the mid-continent coverage gap. (See June 2, 1986.)
Tuesday, May 14, 1991:As the Gulf crisis waned, DOT announced that airport security measures would soon be adjusted to a modified Level 2, a transition that was completed by May 27. The Defense Department deactivated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) Level 2 on May 17, then deactivated Level 1 on May 24. During Operation Desert Shield/Storm, 27 U.S. carriers had flown 5,441 CRAF missions, carrying 709,000 people and 126,000 tons of equipment and supplies. (See January 16, 1991.)
Monday, May 20, 1991:In an effort to reduce the bird hazard to aircraft, U.S. Department of Agriculture biologists shot sea gulls at New York Kennedy airport between this date and August 8. More than 14,000 gulls were killed during the program, which was funded by the airport authority and lasted until August 8. Similar programs took place at the airport during the next three years, but the practice was suspended in 1995 due to litigation.
Wednesday, May 22, 1991:FAA issued a rule under which the agency could authorize airports to impose Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs) to finance airport-related projects, in accordance with the Aviation Safety and Capacity Expansion Act (see November 5, 1990). Airlines would be compensated for the service of collecting the fees from passengers departing and making connections. On January 31, 1992, FAA announced its first PFC program approval, which authorized Savannah (Ga.) International Airport to begin collecting a $3 fee on July 1.
Thursday, May 23, 1991:The FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, which had been established on February 5, 1991, held its first meeting.
Sunday, May 26, 1991:All 223 persons aboard an Austrian Lauda Air flight died when their Boeing 767 crashed after takeoff from Bangkok, Thailand. On June 6, FAA confirmed that the thrust reverser on one engine was found fully deployed among the wreckage (and a Thai government report later stated that uncommanded deployment of a thrust reverser was the accident’s probable cause). Beginning on July 3, 1991, FAA issued a series of directives requiring deactivation of the thrust reversers on 767s powered by Pratt & Whitney PW4000 series engines, as well as inspections and adjustments for these and certain other Boeing aircraft. In October, Boeing announced that it had received FAA approval for design changes to the aircraft affected by the reverser deactivation order. Subsequent actions stemming from the crash included a Boeing program, undertaken in 1992, to install an additional locking device to keep reversers properly stowed on nearly 2,000 of its aircraft.
Thursday, May 30, 1991:DOT announced a $5 million grant to Stewart International Airport, Newburgh, N.Y., the first award under the Military Airports Program mandated by the Aviation Safety and Capacity Expansion Act of 1990 (see November 5, 1990). The new program used Airport Improvement Program funds to assist former military airports and joint civil/military airports.
Sunday, June 2, 1991:As of this date, Pre-Departure Clearance (PDC) was operational at all 29 continental U.S. airports designated to receive the system, which used data link to speed departures and reduce voice radio frequency congestion. (An additional PDC system was planned for Honolulu.) Operational evaluation of the first PDC workstation had begun at Dallas/Fort Worth in July 1989.
Tuesday, June 11, 1991:FAA issued a rule requiring air carriers to notify aircrew members when there is a specific and credible security threat to their flight.
Saturday, June 15, 1991:The Philippines’ Mt. Pinatubo erupted, damaging airports within that country and emitting a huge ash cloud that disrupted aircraft operations over a wide area. Ash damaged at least 17 airliners in flight, most at distances over 600 miles from the volcano. The eruption lent urgency to the First International Symposium on Volcanic Ash and Aviation Safety, held on July 8-12 in Seattle. FAA, one of the symposium’s sponsors, reported on its work to improve volcanic hazard notification procedures. The problem was illustrated again when Alaska’s Mt. Spurr erupted on August 18, 1992, depositing almost a quarter inch of ash on Anchorage airport. One of the airport’s runways reopened the following afternoon, and the other reopened on August 20. Later FAA actions to combat this hazard included a December 1996 warning to airliners to avoid the Pavlov Volcano in the Aleutian Islands. (See December 14, 1989.)
Monday, June 17, 1991:The Supreme Court ruled that the law establishing the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority was unconstitutional (see October 30, 1986). The Court held that the legislation violated the separation of powers by giving a congressional review board veto rights over WMAA’s decisions. New legislation enacted on December 18, 1991, removed the veto rights.
Friday, June 21, 1991:FAA issued a security regulation on foreign air carriers operating into or out of the United States, requiring such carriers to provide a level of protection similar to that of U.S. carriers serving the same airports.
Friday, June 21, 1991:FAA awarded a contract to Bendix for two Microwave Landing Systems. The contract included an option for 26 additional units, which the agency subsequently ordered. (See December 6, 1989, and June 15, 1992.)
Thursday, June 27, 1991:America West Airlines filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. The Phoenix-based carrier had begun operations in August 1983, and was listed as a major airline by 1990. The airline emerged from bankruptcy on August 25, 1994.
Monday, July 1, 1991:Piper Aircraft Corporation filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code.
Monday, July 1, 1991:A new Braniff International Airlines began scheduled service. Legally a different entity from the earlier Braniff (see September 28, 1989), the small new airline flew for only a few weeks before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on August 7, 1991. It ceased operations on July 2, 1992.
Thursday, July 25, 1991:FAA announced the results of the first full year of drug testing (CY90) of employees in and applicants for safety/security positions in the aviation industry: of 230,621 tests, 966 (or 0.4 percent) were positive for drug use. The rate of positive findings in subsequent years remained below one percent. (See December 1, 1989, and February 3, 1994.)
July 1991:The first of two Mode S production systems was delivered to the Technical Center in preparation for formal acceptance of this new radar beacon ground interrogator system, 137 of which were to be implemented in the airspace system. (See October 5, 1984, and July 30, 1992.)
Tuesday, August 6, 1991:The FAA Technical Center, in conjunction with Sandia National Laboratories, opened an aging aircraft nondestructive inspection validation center at Albuquerque International Airport, N.M. The center, which studied improvements in nondestructive inspection systems, was dedicated on February 10, 1993.
Thursday, August 8, 1991:DOT ended all aviation sanctions against South Africa and said that it would consider applications for air carrier routes between the two countries. The action followed a DOT show cause order issued on July 11, the day after President Bush declared South Africa had met conditions set by the anti-apartheid law under which the sanctions were imposed (see November 16, 1986).
Tuesday, August 13, 1991:FAA held ground-breaking ceremonies for its Technical Center’s new Advanced Automation System Laboratory and its Aviation Security Laboratory. Construction was completed on both facilities during FY 1993.
Thursday, August 15, 1991:FAA issued a rule prescribing more stringent standards for hiring, training, and performance of airline and airport security personnel as mandated by the Aviation Security Improvement Act. (See November 16, 1990, and September 28, 1995).
Sunday, September 1, 1991:Barry Krasner became president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, having defeated Steve Bell in an election during the previous month. In August 1994, Krasner won a second three-year term.
Thursday, September 19, 1991:FAA adopted two rules that had been mandated by the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (see November 5, 1990). One rule required airlines, by the end of 1999, to eliminate Stage 2 noise-level aircraft (see February 18, 1980), and provided interim deadlines and options for transitioning to Stage 3. The companion rule set procedures for any new local restrictions on Stage 2 operations, and required that local restrictions on Stage 3 be achieved by voluntary agreements with the airlines or receive FAA approval. Secretary Skinner announced the new rules on September 24, saying that DOT had fulfilled its “promise to Congress and the American people to formulate a balanced national noise policy.” The Port Authority of New York and New Jersery and local governments in Los Angeles and Minneapolis-St. Paul considered plans for certain restrictions on Stage 2 aircraft in advance of the national phase-out; however, FAA successfully opposed the adoption of local rules that it deemed incompatible with national policy and legislation. Meanwhile, progress on eliminating noisier aircraft brought the percentage of Stage 3 planes in the U.S. airline fleet to 59.3 by the end of 1992 and 70.7 at the end of 1995.
Friday, September 20, 1991:A dedication ceremony for the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control Facility’s ARTS IIIE marked completion of Stage II of the upgrade of the TRACON’s Automated Radar Terminal System. (See March 26, 1986.)
Monday, September 30, 1991:Joseph Del Balzo became Executive Director for System Operations, and the position’s responsibilities were expanded. As documented in a directive issued on January 31, 1992, the reorganization gave Del Balzo’s new position responsibility for four Associate Administrators directing major agency functions (Air Traffic; Airway Facilities; Regulation and Certification; and Aviation Standards). Other elements reporting to Del Balzo were the: Office of System Capacity and Requirements; Aeronautical Center; and Regional Administrators. The reorganization also abolished the Executive Directors for Administration and Resource Management and for Regulatory Standards and Compliance, reducing the number of FAA’s Executive Directors from five to three (see February 21, 1990, and November 26, 1991). The Associate Administrators for Administration and for Human Resource Management were redesignated Assistant Administrators reporting directly to the Administrator. The Logistics Service was abolished and its functions divided between the Associate Administrator for Airway Facilities and a new Office of Acquisition Support under the Executive Director for System Development.
Monday, September 30, 1991:During fiscal 1991, which ended on this date, FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association began a Quality Through Partnership program aimed at improving operations and productivity.
Tuesday, October 1, 1991:The first Peripheral Adapter Module Replacement Item (PAMRI) became operational at the Seattle ARTCC. PAMRI was the initial element of the Advanced Automation System. (See July 26, 1988, and November 30, 1992.)
Tuesday, October 1, 1991:FAA inaugurated the Federal Security Manager (FSM) Program as mandated by the Aviation Security Improvement Act (see May 15, 1990, and November 16, 1990). The Federal Security Managers had responsibility for approving airport security programs, acting as focal points for FAA security operations at airports, coordinating government and law enforcement activities in domestic security areas, and providing security information to the aviation community at each of the 18 airports where FSMs were stationed.
Tuesday, October 1, 1991:FAA received 6 British Aerospace BAe-800 aircraft from the Air Force. The transfer was part of an agreement under which FAA would take over the last of the Air Force’s capability to conduct flight inspection of air navigation aids (see January 1962). FAA’s flight inspection fleet continued to evolve under a multi-year modernization plan. As of November 1, 1995, the flight inspection inventory included the 6 Bae-800s, 19 BE-300 Beechcraft, 1 BE-F90 Beechcraft, 3 NA 265-80 Sabreliners, as well as 5 other aircraft with disposal action pending. (Planning called for further disposals and for acquisition of Learjet 60 and Canadair 601 aircraft.) In addition, FAA’s inventory included 15 aircraft for training, research and development, and support functions. The total fleet consisted of 47 owned and two leased aircraft.
Wednesday, October 23, 1991:A ceremony in San Diego marked the start of construction of a new Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facility. Five existing TRACONs in the area were to be consolidated into the new facility, a process completed in September 1995. Meanwhile, FAA planned several similar TRACON consolidations. (See April 19, 1993.)
Monday, October 28, 1991:The Aging Aircraft Safety Act, enacted on this date, required FAA to undertake rulemaking requiring certain airworthiness reviews and inspections for airliners in service more than 15 years. The agency accordingly published such a proposal on October 5, 1993. The act also directed FAA to establish programs to insure that U.S. air carriers properly maintained their older aircraft and to encourage foreign airlines to so the same. Although the legislation did not specifically address commuter aircraft, FAA extended its aging aircraft program to that sector.
Friday, November 8, 1991:FAA notified Congress of an Auxiliary Flight Service Station Plan adding 26 permanent and five seasonal auxiliary stations to supplement the 61 automated flight service stations already planned (see October 2, 1981). The Aviation Safety and Capacity Expansion Act (see November 5, 1990) had mandated the project. (See February 12, 1986, and February 15, 1995.)
Wednesday, November 13, 1991:Midway Airlines ceased operations at midnight. (See November 1, 1979.) Earlier that day, Northwest Airlines had dropped plans to acquire Midway, which had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 26, 1991. On November 15, 1993, a smaller new carrier named Midway Airlines began service from Chicago Midway airport.
Thursday, November 14, 1991:The U.S. Justice Department indicted two Libyans for the bombing of Pan American Flight 103 (see December 21, 1988). Libya reportedly detained the suspects but refused to extract them. (See April 15, 1992.)
Wednesday, November 20, 1991:The White House announced the selection of FAA Administrator James Busey to become DOT Deputy Secretary, succeeding Elaine Chao, who left DOT on October 22 to become Peace Corps Director. On November 22, the White House announced the choice of Jerry R. Curry to succeed Busey as FAA Administrator. A retired Army major general, Curry was serving as Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Subsequently, Curry withdrew as nominee for the FAA post on March 20, 1992. (See December 4, 1991.)
Thursday, November 21, 1991:Secretary of Transportation Skinner and his Mexican counterpart signed an agreement expanding aviation opportunities. The accord permitted each country to designate a carrier to fly between any U.S. city and any Mexican city, a level of flexibility unique in U.S. international aviation relations.
Tuesday, November 26, 1991:Administrator Busey announced a reorganization at FAA headquarters, including:
- A new Assistant Administrator for Information Technology position with responsibility for administrative and operational information resources. The Office of Management Systems at headquarters was abolished and its former director became Acting Deputy for the new Assistant Administrator.
- A new Assistant Administrator for Budget and Accounting position with responsibility for the Office of Budget and the Office of Accounting. These two offices had previously reported to the Associate Administrator for Administration, a position which was abolished.
- Re-titling the Executive Director for Acquisition as the Executive Director for Acquisition and Safety Oversight and expanding this position’s responsibilities by the addition of: the Office of Aviation Safety, whose head was re-titled an Associate Administrator rather than an Assistant Administrator; and the appraisal functions of the former Deputy Associate Administrator for Appraisal. (See September 30, 1991, and November 30, 1993.)