FAA History: 1993

Thursday, January 7, 1993:DOT announced its approval of a $450 million investment in Continental Airlines by Air Canada and Air Partners of Dallas, Tex. On April 28, Continental emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy (see December 3, 1990).
Wednesday, January 20, 1993:William J. Clinton became President, succeeding George Bush. FAA’s Administrator Thomas C. Richards left office with the Bush Administration, and Joseph M. Del Balzo became Acting Administrator (see August 10, 1993).
Thursday, January 21, 1993:Federico F. Peña became Secretary of Transportation, succeeding Andrew H. Card with the change of Administrations. A former member of the Colorado legislature and two-term mayor of Denver, Peña had been a strong advocate of the new airport under construction for his city (see May 17, 1988). He served as Secretary until February 14, 1997 (see entry for December 20, 1996).
Tuesday, February 9, 1993:Lt. Gen. Elwood R. Quesada died at the age of 88. Quesada had been FAA’s first Administrator (see November 1, 1958).
Monday, February 22, 1993:The first prototype of the McDonnell Douglas MD-90 series, a follow-on to the MD-80 series, made its initial flight. FAA type-certificated the MD-90 on November 16, 1994, and it entered commercial service on April 1, 1995, with Delta.
Saturday, March 13, 1993:A blizzard swept over the East Coast, halting or delaying almost all airline travel from Georgia to Maine. At one point during the two-day storm, which claimed over 100 lives, all major airports were closed north of Charlotte, N.C. The airspace system took several days to recover.
Thursday, March 25, 1993:Secretary of Transportation Federico Peña confirmed that he planned a reorganization separating aviation policy issues from the policy issues of other transportation modes. As documented in a directive issued on February 15, 1994, the change abolished the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs and established a new Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy and a new Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs.
Wednesday, April 7, 1993:President Clinton signed legislation creating a National Commission to Ensure a Strong, Competitive Airline Industry to study the problems facing the aviation industry. Former Virginia governor Gerald L. Baliles chaired the commission, which had 11 non-voting and 15 voting members. The commission met for the first time on May 24, and delivered its final report to the President on August 19. Among its recommendations was the creation of an independent federal corporate entity within DOT to manage and fund air traffic control and related functions (see September 7, 1993). Other recommendations included: establishment of an advisory committee to further the airlines’ financial health; bankruptcy code reforms; tax breaks for airlines; possible use of oil reserves when needed to control sharp increases in fuel prices; efforts to create a multi-national operating environment for airlines free of discrimination and restrictions; allowing foreign ownership of up to 49 percent of voting equity in U.S. airlines, providing this was part of a liberal and fair bilateral agreement; limiting the liability of general aviation aircraft manufacturers to 15 years from the date of manufacture (see August 17, 1994); and maintaining the Essential Air Service program.
Thursday, April 8, 1993:FAA released a study it had sponsored on the Age-60 rule on mandatory airline pilot retirement (see March 15, 1960). On the basis of accident data, the study’s authors concluded that there was “no support for the hypothesis that the pilots of scheduled air carriers have increased accidents as they near the age of 60.” The study did not deal with medical problems. FAA stated that any change to the Age-60 rule would have to be based on evidence that passenger safety would not be compromised. (See December 14, 1995.)
Monday, April 19, 1993:In testimony on Capitol Hill, Acting Administrator Del Balzo announced that FAA had modified its plan to consolidate its en route centers and Terminal Approach Control facilities (TRACONs) into 23 large facilities (see March 22, 1983). Instead, the agency planned to operate the 22 existing centers, 170-175 stand-alone TRACONs, and 5 consolidated TRACONs (see October 23, 1991).
Sunday, May 9, 1993:At the airport in Orlando, Fl., FAA commissioned the first of 133 ground interrogator systems for the Mode S radar beacon transponder (see October 5, 1984). On March 8, 1994, the agency commissioned its first monopulse beacon radar by upgrading the Mode S sensor at the same airport. While the older radar beacon system used a barrage of interrogation and required 16-20 replies to determine accurate position information, the monopulse technique obtained position information from a single transponder reply.
Tuesday, May 25, 1993:DOT announced a new U.S.-Russian aviation agreement, updating and expanding an accord signed in June 1990 (see entry for February 16, 1990). Under the pact, the U.S. obtained new rights to fly over parts of Russia to points in Asia, and Russia received rights to serve 11 new U.S. cities. (See June 17, 1992, and October 14, 1994.)
Monday, June 14, 1993:As mandated by legislation, FAA established the Civil Tiltrotor Development Advisory Committee to study the feasibility of civil tiltrotor transportation. Delivered to Congress on December 29, 1995, the Committee’s final report recommended an expansion of civil tiltrotor research and the establishment of a public/private partnership to address issues associated with the concept.
Friday, July 2, 1993:Mississippi River flooding that began to disrupt air traffic control operations on this date closed 36 general aviation airports and two FAA towers. One heavily damaged Automated Flight Service Station remained closed for several months after the flood. FAA response to the disaster included activation of a temporary tower in the St. Louis area.
Sunday, August 1, 1993:A new collective bargaining agreement between FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) went into effect. The four-year agreement covered all operational air traffic control specialists in terminals and centers. (See May 1, 1989.)
Tuesday, August 10, 1993:David R. Hinson became FAA’s thirteenth Administrator, succeeding Thomas C. Richards (see June 27, 1992). Hinson took the oath a second time in a public ceremony on August 24. The new Administrator’s nomination had been announced on May 13, made formal on June 30, and confirmed by the Senate on August 6. A native of Oklahoma, Hinson held a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington. He served as a naval aviator and as a pilot for Northwest Airlines. In 1961, he became a flight instructor for United Airlines. Hinson later became a captain and director of flight training for West Coast Airlines, eventually becoming director of flight standards and engineering for West Coast’s successor, Air West. In 1973, he founded Hinson-Mennella, Inc., a partnership whose acquisitions included Flightcraft, Inc., the Beech aircraft distributor in the Pacific Northwest. He was one of four founders of Midway Airlines in 1978, and served as chairman and chief executive officer from 1985 until the airline ceased operations in 1991. When selected to head FAA, Hinson was executive vice president for marketing and business development with Douglas Aircraft, a subsidiary of McDonnell Douglas. (See November 9, 1996.)
Thursday, August 12, 1993:The Clinton Administration announced that air traffic controllers fired for participation in the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization strike (see August 3, 1981) could apply for reemployment. (Since December 1981, the fired controllers could apply for any federal position except for jobs in the FAA and certain related positions in the Defense and Treasury Departments.) At the time of the announcement, FAA had already imposed a hiring freeze because of budget restrictions. The agency estimated that once the freeze ended it would hire fewer than 200 new controllers per year over the next few years. In January 1995, a rehired group of 26 former strikers began training, and about 14 others were rehired during that year. (See February 22, 1996).
Thursday, September 2, 1993:FAA announced that it planned to require air carriers to have proof that freight forwarders followed FAA-approved security programs or else to inspect all cargo sent to them by the freight forwarders. The compliance date of January 31, 1974, was subsequently extended to April 1, 1974.
Tuesday, September 7, 1993:Vice President Albert Gore released the report of the National Performance Review, a study of the operations of the Federal government that Gore had led during the past six months. The report made recommendations intended to streamline government and make it more cost beneficial. Proposals concerning aviation included: terminating Federal grant funding for FAA higher education programs; cutting Essential Air Service subsidies; increasing FAA fees for inspection of foreign repair facilities; and contracting for the operation of low activity (Level 1) air traffic control facilities. The report’s most far-reaching recommendation concerning FAA was its proposal for creating a government-owned corporation to provide air traffic control services (see January 6 and May 3, 1994).
Wednesday, September 8, 1993:An administrative law judge recommended that DOT deny the application of Friendship Airlines, later renamed ATX, to operate as an air carrier. The company had been founded by former Texas Air chairman Frank Lorenzo. Although DOT ordered the judge to reopen hearings, he reconfirmed his recommendation on December 22. On April 5, 1994, DOT rejected the application, citing past safety and regulatory compliance problems experienced by airlines run by Lorenzo.
Wednesday, October 6, 1993:The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) held a ground breaking ceremony for the expansion of Dulles airport’s main terminal, a project completed on September 5, 1996. On November 17, 1993, meanwhile, MWAA officially broke ground for a new terminal for Washington National as part of a major improvement of the airport.
Tuesday, October 26, 1993:An FAA Beech Super King Air crashed into mountainous terrain near Front Royal, Va., killing all three persons aboard. The National Transportation Safety Board cited the probable cause as pilot error and deficiencies in the agency’s management of its flying program. In response to the accident, FAA made extensive changes in training, procedures, and oversight relating to its flight operations.
Tuesday, November 2, 1993:FAA dedicated the new Leased Interfacility National Airspace Communications (LINCS) telecommunications system following an initial installation that took about nine months. LINCS connected 20 air route traffic control centers, replacing a network of more than 10,000 individual circuits. Expansion to other facilities was planned.
Thursday, November 18, 1993:American Airlines’ flight attendants went on strike, forcing the airline to cancel or delay flights. The disputed issues centered on scheduling, pay, and health benefits. On November 22, President Clinton interceded in the five-day old strike, persuading the union and the airline to agree to binding arbitration.
Tuesday, November 23, 1993:Linda H. Daschle became the Deputy Administrator of FAA. President Clinton had announced his intention to nominate Daschle on October 25, and the Senate had confirmed her appointment on November 20. Born in Oklahoma, Daschle began her career as a weather observer for FAA while attending Kansas State University. During the early 1980’s, she became the first woman to direct the Civil Aeronautics Board’s Office of Congressional, Community, and Consumer Affairs. Daschle later served as director of Federal affairs at the Air Transport Association of America. She was also active in civic affairs and in the campaigns of her husband, Sen. Tom Daschle (D.-S.D.). When chosen for the FAA post, she was senior vice president in charge of Federal and environmental affairs for the American Association of Airport Executives. (See November 9, 1996.)
Wednesday, November 24, 1993:A group of airlines and their trade associations formally asked DOT or FAA to prohibit Los Angeles officials from implementing a plan to deny airlines access to Los Angeles International Airport because of their refusal to pay higher landing fees. On November 30 and December 1, FAA Administrator David Hinson and DOT Secretary Federico Peña met with airline representatives and Los Angeles city officials to mediate the dispute. As a result, the airlines agreed to pay the higher fees, retroactive to July 1, while planning to pursue the issue through litigation. The airlines subsequently asked DOT to review the increases in accordance with legislation (see August 23, 1994) that provided a means of timely resolution of such disputes. On June 30, 1995, DOT ruled that the increases were largely valid but that the airlines were due a partial refund, a decision that remained under appeal at the end of 1996.
Tuesday, November 30, 1993:FAA Administrator Hinson announced that Joseph Del Balzo had been named Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives, bringing to four the number of Executive Directors (see November 26, 1991, and November 30, 1994). The position was discontinued after February 28, 1994, the date of Del Balzo’s retirement.
Wednesday, December 1, 1993:A Jetstream BA-3100 operating as a Northwest Airlink commuter flight crashed while approaching Hibbing, MN, in instrument weather conditions. The National Transportation Safety Board cited crew errors and loss of altitude awareness as the probable cause of the accident, which killed all 18 persons aboard. The crash increased public and congressional awareness of the issue of commuter airline safety. (See December 13, 1994.)
Friday, December 3, 1993:FAA’s first commissioning of an Airport Surface Detection Equipment model 3 (ASDE-3) took place at the Seattle-Tacoma airport. An improved ground surveillance radar system, ASDE-3 had been installed for testing at Pittsburgh in February 1990, and FAA had formally accepted the system for operational use in December 1991. (See December 23, 1983, and June 27, 1996.)
Monday, December 13, 1993:FAA Administrator David Hinson ordered an extensive review of the Advanced Automation System (AAS), a multi-billion dollar program designed to help modernize the nation’s air traffic control system. The contractor, IBM, was far behind schedule and had major cost overruns (see November 30, 1992). Hinson’s recommended review included conferring with IBM to determine the impact the company’s plan to sell its unit in charge of the AAS contract to Loral Corp., a sale subsequently concluded. On March 3, 1994, FAA announced initial actions as a result of the review that included a new AAS management team and suspension of the portion of the program designated the Area Control Computer Complex (ACCC). Subsequently, on June 3, 1994, FAA announced a major overhaul of the AAS program. The agency terminated ACCC. FAA also cancelled another AAS element, the Terminal Advanced Automation System (TAAS), stating that it would substitute a new procurement for modernization of terminal radar approach control facilities (see September 16, 1996). The agency reduced the number of towers planned to receive the Tower Control Computer Complex (TCCC). In addition, the agency planned to review the software for the Initial Sector Suite System (ISSS), a program to provide new workstations for en route controllers. On September 30, 1994, FAA announced that it would seek a proposal from Loral that would permit the company to move forward with this work under a new program, the Display System Replacement (DSR), which would replace ISSS. (See April 27, 1995.)
Wednesday, December 15, 1993:Five persons died when an Israel Westwind aircraft following a Boeing 757 encountered wake turbulence and crashed at Santa Ana, CA. The National Transportation Safety Board later found the probable cause to have been the Westwind pilot’s failure to maintain adequate separation behind the 757 and/or to remain above its flight path during approach. The Board considered a related factor to be inadequacy of air traffic control procedures regarding visual approaches and visual flight rules operations behind heavier airplanes. On December 21, meanwhile, FAA required air traffic controllers to issue wake turbulence advisories to aircraft following 757s in all cases for which such advisories would be issued for jets heavier than the 757. On December 22, FAA sent a letter to licensed pilots alerting them to accidents and incidents involving 757 wake turbulence and urging attention to existing guidance on avoiding wake hazards. (See December 18, 1992, and May 20, 1994.)
Friday, December 17, 1993:Continental Express began the first FAA-approved use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) for non-precision airport approaches in operations at Aspen and Steamboat Springs, Colo. Four days later, DOT announced the report of a joint DOT/DOD task force on the GPS. The task force recommended that DOT should take a stronger role in managing the DOD-controlled system, and that technical steps be taken to improve the integrity and availability of GPS for all transportation modes. (See October 14, 1992, and February 17, 1994.)
Friday, December 31, 1993:The end of this day completed a calendar year in which major (Part 121) scheduled airlines experienced no passenger or air crew fatalities. The only fatal accident in Part 121 scheduled operations involved a ground crewmember struck by a propeller. The fatal accident rate for this segment of aviation was 0.013 per 100,000 departures, the lowest since 1980 (see December 31, 1980).
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.