FAA History: 1994

Monday, January 3, 1994:As documented by a directive issued this date, the organization of the Associate Administrator for Airway Facilities included three Services: System Management (formerly System Maintenance), Operational Support, and NAS Transition and Implementation.
Thursday, January 6, 1994:DOT, FAA, and the Council of Economic Advisors held a press conference to unveil the Clinton Administration’s plan to revitalize the aviation industry. The plan entailed action on most recommendations of the National Commission to Ensure a Strong Competitive Airline Industry (see April 7, 1993). Included were efforts to move ahead with conversion of FAA’s air traffic control function to a government corporation (see September 7, 1993, and May 3, 1994). Other elements of the plan aimed at: bankruptcy reform; increased foreign investment in U.S. carriers, contingent on reciprocal opportunities; encouragement of new entrant carriers; heightened scrutiny of airline financial fitness; and promotion of employee ownership of airlines.
Monday, January 17, 1994:An earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale hit the Los Angeles area, briefly closing Los Angeles airport. The Van Nuys airport tower lost its window glass but continued to operate until a temporary tower was activated.
January 1994:Locality pay became effective for Federal workers, who received raises ranging from 6.52 to 3.09 percent. The percentage was determined by location in 27 metropolitan areas, plus a catchall “rest of the U.S.” locality. Certain employees who were already paid at special rates did not receive a raise unless the amount of the locality increase exceeded their pay differential.
Wednesday, February 2, 1994:FAA announced that 25 low activity towers (Level 1) would be converted to contract towers, beginning in September 1994. The agency had been contracting the operation of such towers since 1982, and 30 were run on this basis as of the end of 1993. On November 28, 1995, FAA announced that it would discontinue funding for 7 low-activity towers, including three contract towers and four FAA-operated facilities.
Thursday, February 3, 1994:DOT announced a group of new transportation-industry regulations on drugs and alcohol that had been developed in response to the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of October 28, 1991. Among these was an FAA rule, published on February 15, 1994, that established an aviation industry alcohol misuse prevention program. The program included pre-employment and random alcohol testing of safety-sensitive employees of airlines and certain other FAA-certificated operations (see May 10, 1995). In announcing the new rules, DOT also stated that its operating agencies would implement similar alcohol misuse prevention programs for their own safety-sensitive employees. At the same time, DOT unveiled a proposal to lower the minimum random drug testing rate for industries that record a positive rate of less than one percent for two calendar years and maintain that record during subsequent years. On November 22, DOT issued a final rule allowing such industries to test only 25 percent of safety-sensitive employees rather than 50 percent. Accordingly, FAA reduced the random drug testing rate for the aviation industry, effective on January 1, 1995.
Thursday, February 17, 1994:FAA announced that it was implementing civil use of the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) of the Global Positioning System (GPS) . IOC signified that the system’s 24 satellites were operating in their assigned orbit and providing signals. FAA also stated that it had granted approval for certification of two types of GPS signal receivers. (See December 17, 1993, and June 2, 1994.)
Monday, February 28, 1994:The National Weather Service commissioned the first Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) as part of a joint development program in which FAA was a participant (see June 8-14, 1983).
Thursday, March 10, 1994:FAA Administrator Hinson issued a memorandum announcing establishment of a Management Board with broader membership than that of the Executive Board (see January 28, 1989), which was disestablished. The new Board’s responsibilities included implementation of performance measures for FAA as well as oversight of tactical issues and of the agency’s strategic plan.
Thursday, March 17, 1994:DOT and the Department of the Interior published a joint advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on measures to reduce the impact of aircraft noise over the Grand Canyon and other national parks. In an Earth Day memorandum issued on April 22, 1996, President Clinton directed DOT to take both short- and long-term actions to restore natural quiet to national parks. In response, FAA on May 15 published a notice proposing several alternative methods of controlling aircraft noise in Rocky Mountain National Park. On July 31, the agency published a rulemaking proposal to modify the flight regime at the Grand Canyon (see March 26, 1987), followed by a final rule on December 31, 1996. Among other provisions, this final rule: modified the “flight-free” zones over the Canyon and established new ones; set curfews for commercial sightseeing operations; and established a cap on the number of commercial tour aircraft allowed to fly over the park. Also on December 31, FAA published a rulemaking proposal for a phased ban on noisier aircraft over the Canyon.
Thursday, March 17, 1994:FAA announced a multi-year strategy to help the general aviation industry, which was facing adverse economic conditions. The plan included a range of initiatives to lower the cost of flying, boost safety and technology, and guarantee fair and equal access to airways and airports. (See August 17, 1994.)
Wednesday, March 30, 1994:President Clinton signed the Federal Workforce Restructuring Act of 1994, legislation offering buyouts of up to $25,000 to personnel willing to leave Federal service. The act also targeted a reduction of 272,900 Federal employees between 1993 and 1999. The buyout was offered in conjunction with an early retirement option, authority for which had become available on March 14. FAA initially offered the buyout to its personnel between March 31 and May 3, 1994. Certain categories of employees received subsequent buyout offers, some with a deferred retirement option, during 1994 and 1995. More than 3,000 FAA employees eventually received buyouts. The buyouts were a major factor in the reduction of FAA’s full-time equivalent workforce, which fell from 52,352 in fiscal 1992 to 47,738 at the end of fiscal 1996.
Friday, April 15, 1994:FAA’s Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC) officially began operations in its new facility at Herndon, VA. The ATCSCC had moved from FAA Headquarters because of size and technological constraints (see April 27, 1970).
Monday, April 18, 1994:DOT stated that it had urged nations that mandate routine spraying of pesticides on board aircraft while passengers are present to reconsider the requirement. The practice had been discontinued in the United States 15 years earlier due to health concerns. In May 1995, DOT hailed a recommendation against such spraying by the Facilitation Division of the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Tuesday, May 3, 1994:Vice President Albert Gore and Transportation Secretary Federico Peña announced the Clinton Administration’s proposal to create a new Air Traffic Services Corporation to operate, maintain, and modernize the air traffic system. (See September 7, 1993, and January 6, 1994.)
Under the proposal, 38,000 FAA employees involved in providing air traffic services would become part of a new not-for-profit government corporation. Support for the corporation would be derived from fees levied upon commercial aviation, subject to approval by the Department of Transportation. The Department would maintain additional oversight through membership on the corporation’s board of directors, on which airspace users would also be represented. FAA would continue to exercise safety oversight over civil aviation, including the new corporation.
On the same day that Gore and Peña unveiled the plan, President Clinton wrote letters urging Congress to make the new corporation a reality. During the following months, however, Congress considered a variety of plans for restructuring FAA. These proposals included calls to make the agency independent of the Department of Transportation. (See September 12, 1995.)
Wednesday, May 4, 1994: In a joint memorandum, the Associate Administrator for Airway Facilities and the President of the Professional Airways Systems Specialists (PASS) advised employees of a proposed realignment of the Airway Facilities organization. The proposal envisioned a leaner organization with consolidation to be achieved gradually over a four-year period. Implementation of the plan involved steps to reduce five organizational levels to three: Regional Office, System Management Office, and System Support Center. In May 1995, the Southern Region was the first to declare that its headquarters realignment had been accomplished in accordance with the plan. During the following month, Central Region stated that both its System Management Offices were in place.
Friday, May 20, 1994: In a letter responding to a series of National Transportation Safety Board recommendations, FAA outlined an interim policy on Boeing 757 wake turbulence separations. Beginning July 1, controllers would maintain a four-mile separation for both large and small aircraft following 757s. The letter indicated that the agency would revise guidance to pilots concerning wake turbulence and would study further changes in air traffic rules relating to this hazard. On June 10, Secretary of Transportation Federico Peña and FAA Administrator Hinson ordered a review of the timeliness of FAA’s response to the 757 wake turbulence issue. FAA Deputy Administrator Linda Hall Daschle and DOT General Counsel Stephen Kaplan submitted the resulting report on July 26. Although supporting some aspects of FAA’s actions, the report stated that the 757 wake turbulence issue should serve as a “wake-up call” to the agency regarding its processes for addressing emerging safety issues. Recommendations included improved integration between FAA’s research and operations functions. (See December 15, 1993, and August 17, 1996)
Monday, May 23, 1994:FAA began operational testing of the Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS) at Memphis airport. ITWS was designed to combine data from FAA and National Weather Service sensors and radars. The system would present predictions on potentially hazardous weather to air traffic control personnel via easily-understood graphics and text. On January 29, 1997, FAA selected Raytheon to build ITWS and to install and maintain the system at 34 sites covering 45 airports.
Thursday, May 26, 1994:Enactment of the Airport Improvement Program Temporary Extension Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-260) renewed FAA’s authority to award Airport Improvement Program grants, the legislative mandate for which had lapsed on September 30, 1993. The new act authorized FAA to make grants through June 30, 1994 (see August 23, 1994). The law provided for the gradual phasing out of compensation that certain FAA employees had received under the Pay Demonstration Project after that project’s termination on June 17, 1994 (see June 18, 1989, and April 1, 1996). It also placed a temporary freeze on increases to certain airport fees charged to airlines and required DOT to study reforming the air traffic control system.
Thursday, June 2, 1994:Administrator Hinson announced that FAA would halt further development of the Microwave Landing System (MLS) for use under the more difficult visibility conditions rated Category 2 and 3 (see June 15, 1992). He stated that the agency instead would concentrate on the development of the Global Positioning System, known as GPS (see February 17, 1994). On June 8, FAA issued a request for proposals for an initial Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) for GPS. The initial WAAS would be a network of 24 ground stations and related communications systems that would enhance the integrity and availability of GPS signals (see entry for August 1, 1995). On July 16, Administrator Hinson and President Phil Boyer of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association landed at the Frederick, Md., airport using the first FAA-approved public “stand alone” GPS instrument approach. On October 17, the Administrator formally offered free use of GPS for 10 years to International Civil Aviation Organization member states, reconfirming a previous verbal offer (see entry for April 1, 1991). Other related events during 1994 included FAA’s December 8 announcement of approval of GPS as a primary means of navigation for oceanic/remote operations, subject to certain conditions.
Sunday, June 12, 1994:The Boeing 777, the first U.S. jetliner to use a “fly-by-wire” control system, made its first flight. The long-range, twin-engine transport was designed for a basic seating capacity of 375 passengers. On April 19, 1995, the aircraft received joint certification by FAA and Europe’s Joint Aviation Authorities. After an unprecedented testing program, FAA on May 30, 1995, approved the 777 to fly on long, over-water flights as far as three hours from a landing site. This was the first time that the agency had granted this Extended Twin-Engine Operations (ETOPS) authority without an extensive period of in-service operation. The 777 entered commercial service, with United Airlines, on June 7, 1995.
Saturday, July 2, 1994:A USAir DC-9 crashed while attempting to land at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, killing 37 of the 57 persons aboard. The accident illustrated the continuing problem of wind shear. As part of its ongoing efforts to combat this hazard, FAA on July 20 commissioned the first Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR). The agency had commissioned a total of 22 TDWRs by the end of CY1996. (See November 2, 1988.)
Tuesday, July 5, 1994:Public Law 103-272 re-codified certain laws pertaining to transportation, including the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, as amended, which was FAA’s basic enabling legislation. As a result of the re-codification, the Federal Aviation Act was superseded by provisions of Subtitle VII of Title 49, United States Code.
Tuesday, July 12, 1994:United Air Lines’ parent corporation announced that its shareholders had voted to transfer 55 percent majority ownership of United to the airline’s employees. The deal made United the largest employee-owned U.S. company.
Tuesday, July 12, 1994:FAA dedicated its National Aviation Safety Data Analysis Center (NASDAC). Located at national headquarters, NASDAC provided access to safety-related computer data bases and relevant reference material in printed form. A new and improved NASDAC formally opened on March 14, 1996.
Friday, July 29, 1994:Citing the rapid development of satellite technology (see June 2, 1994), FAA announced cancellation of plans to purchase up to 235 next generation Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) designed for specifically for Category 1 precision approaches. (Category 1 conditions are the least difficult of three categories defining visibility conditions for landing.)
Monday, August 15, 1994:FAA issued a regulation which, for the first time, set length of duty and rest requirements for airline flight attendants. Under the rule, attendants could remain on duty for as many as 14 hours within a 24-hour period, but would get a rest period of at least 9 hours after that duty period. Longer duty periods would be permitted, but in such cases FAA required that rest periods and the size of the flight attendant crew would increase. Due to litigation, FAA did not begin enforcing the rule until February 1, 1996.
Wednesday, August 17, 1994:President Clinton signed the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994. Under the new law, manufacturers could not be held liable for accidents happening more than 18 years after the production of general aviation aircraft, engines, or parts. The legislation was followed by an upturn for this sector of industry.
Tuesday, August 23, 1994:Enactment of the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 provided fiscal year 1994-96 funding and authorization for FAA’s programs. This included the awarding of Airport Improvement Program grants, which had lapsed at the end of June 1994 (see entries for May 26, 1994, and September 30, 1996). The act also required that airport fees be reasonable, and directed DOT to issue rules on resolving disputes between airlines and airports over such fees, and to establish policies to prevent diversion of airport revenues to activities unrelated to airports. In addition, the act established a five-year term of office for the FAA Administrator, and directed FAA to institute a joint aviation research and development program with other agencies.
Tuesday, August 30, 1994:Lockheed and Martin Marietta announced plans for a merger that was accomplished during 1995, creating Lockheed Martin. Lockheed had been formed in 1926, while Martin Marietta had been created in 1961 by a merger of the American-Marietta Company with the aircraft manufacturing firm founded by Glenn Martin in 1917.
Friday, September 2, 1994:FAA issued the first release of results of its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program, under which the agency evaluated the capability of nations to provide safety oversight for their air carriers. In rating 30 countries, FAA concluded that 17 were acceptable in their ability to ensure adherence to international safety standards, four were conditionally acceptable, and nine did not meet the standards. The agency continued to issue and to revise such ratings, with the goal of evaluating all nations with airlines serving U.S. airports. By the end of 1996, a total 64 countries had been assessed.
Thursday, September 8, 1994:A USAir Boeing 737 crashed in Aliquippa, Pa., as it approached Pittsburgh airport. All 132 persons aboard died in the accident, the cause of which proved difficult to determine. Prompted by this crash and an earlier one at Colorado Springs (see March 3, 1991), FAA conducted a critical design review of the 737 flight control system. On May 3, 1995, the review team reported that it had found no critical flaws but made a number of recommendations for improving the aircraft’s safety margin (see August 22, 1996). Following the accident, NTSB urged that upgraded Flight Data Recorders (FDRs) be required on 737s by the end of 1995 and on other large airliners by January 1, 1998. FAA, however, called for voluntary upgrading of FDRs on 737s while the agency developed comprehensive rulemaking on the FDR issue (see July 16, 1996).
Monday, September 12, 1994:A pilot flying a stolen Cessna 150 crashed a few yards from the White House, dying on impact.
Wednesday, September 21, 1994:FAA issued a warning concerning certain types of child restraint systems (CRSs) that were adequate for use in motor vehicles but not in aircraft. The statement was based on a research report by the agency’s Civil Aeromedical Institute. FAA announced that it would consider banning these CRS types, and would also: conduct further research; cooperate with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to revise CRS standards and labeling; and urge airlines to adopt cost-saving policies that would encourage parents to use CRSs. (See September 15, 1992, and June 8, 1995.)
Thursday, September 22, 1994:In response to a series of accidents, FAA issued a special rule tightening safety requirements for air tour operators in the state of Hawaii.
Friday, October 14, 1994:Following a joint evaluation of the Russian air transportation system, a U.S.-Russian team recommended immediate steps to shore up safety oversight. FAA worked with Russian authorities to assist implementation of these recommendations, and continued to participate in efforts to improve communications and routes for international flights in the area of Russia. On June 30, 1995, Vice President Gore and Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin signed a memorandum of understanding on strengthening technical cooperation toward a bilateral airworthiness agreement.
Monday, October 31, 1994:An American Eagle commuter flight crashed near Roselawn, Ind., with the loss of all 68 persons aboard. The aircraft, an Avions de Transport Regional ATR-72, had been in a holding pattern due to weather delays at Chicago. In a report issued on July 9, 1996, the National Transportation Safety Board cited the probable cause as a loss of control due to icing, the manufacturer’s failure to provide information on the icing hazard to the aircraft, and French aviation authorities’ failure to ensure its airworthiness under icing conditions. Deficiencies in FAA oversight were listed as contributory causes. Following the accident, meanwhile, FAA took a variety of steps to reduce hazards to ATR aircraft and, on December 9, 1994, prohibited flight by models 72 or 42 into known or forecast icing conditions. On January 11, 1995, FAA eased this ban, subject to certain requirements, to apply only to freezing rain and freezing drizzle. The agency also required the installation of improved deicing boots on the aircraft by June 1995. Subsequent FAA actions on the broader issue of combating icing included the issuance on May 2, 1996, of 18 new airworthiness directives affecting pilots of 29 different aircraft types. (See May 28, 1992, and December 13, 1994.)
October 1994:At FAA’s request, RTCA, Inc., convened a government/industry committee to study the Free Flight concept. (RTCA, Inc., was the official name of the former Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics: see June 19, 1935.) The Free Flight concept sought to employ new procedures and technology to provide much greater flexibility for Instrument Flight Rules operations at high altitudes. Currently, the pilots of such flights were obliged to follow specified routes, unless deviations were approved by air traffic controllers. Under Free Flight, in contrast, these pilots (or their airline managers) would be able to choose the routes that they considered most efficient. Controllers would intervene only to ensure safety or prevent congestion. In January 1995, a report by the RTCA committee defined Free Flight and the first steps for its implementation. This was followed in October 1995 by the more detailed report of an RTCA task force that had been formed at FAA request. On March 15 1996, FAA announced progress on Free Flight, stating that the agency and the aviation community would work together to phase in the concept over the next ten years. On January 15, 1997, the agency issued a fact sheet on a plan for a two-year evaluation of Free Flight in the airspace of Alaska and Hawaii, beginning in 1999. (See September 30, 1990.)
Wednesday, November 30, 1994:Administrator Hinson announced a reorganization aimed at structuring FAA along its key lines of business, making better use of resources, consolidating functions, and increasing management accountability. As documented in a directive issued on May 15, 1995, the reorganization eliminated a layer of management by abolishing the three remaining Executive Director positions (see November 30, 1993). The positions reporting to the Administrator and Deputy Administrator were now the following:
  • Chief Counsel.
  • Assistant Administrator for Civil Rights.
  • Assistant Administrator for Government and Industry Affairs.
  • Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, to which the public affairs functions in regions and centers now reported directly.
  • Assistant Administrator for System Safety, a new position charged with analyzing safety data and making recommendations for improvement. The position of Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, which had reported to an Executive Director, was abolished.
  • Assistant Administrator for Policy, Planning, and International Aviation, which was modified to include six Offices: Aviation Policy and Plans; Environment and Energy; International Aviation; Asia-Pacific; Europe, Africa, and Middle East; and Latin America-Caribbean.
  • Associate Administrator for Administration, a new position assuming the responsibilities of the abolished Assistant Administrators for Budget and Accounting and for Human Resource Management. Elements reporting to the new Associate Administrator included the Regional Administrators, the Director of the Aeronautical Center, and three Offices: Business Information and Consultation; Human Resource Management; and Financial Services, a new office established to consolidate the budget and accounting functions.
  • Associate Administrator for Airports, formerly an Assistant Administrator, responsible for two Offices: Airport Planning and Programming; and Airport Safety and Standards.
  • Associate Administrator for Civil Aviation Security, formerly an Assistant Administrator, responsible for three Offices: Civil Aviation Security Intelligence; Civil Aviation Security Operations; Civil Aviation Security Policy and Planning.
  • Associate Administrator for Regulation and Certification, which continued to control the Office of Rulemaking, Aircraft Certification Service, and Flight Standards Service, with the added responsibility for the Offices of Accident Investigation and Aviation Medicine. The Associate Administrator for Aviation Standards was abolished. Associate Administrator for Air Traffic Services, a new position responsible for the Air Traffic Service, the Airway Facilities Service, the Office of Independent Operational Test and Evaluation, and the Office of System Capacity and Requirements.
  • Associate Administrator for Research and Acquisitions, a new position responsible for the FAA Technical Center and six Offices: Acquisitions; Air Traffic Systems Development; Aviation Research; Communications, Navigation, and Surveillance Systems; Information Technology; and System Architecture and Program Evaluation. The Associate Administrators for NAS Development and for System Engineering and Development were abolished.
Friday, December 9, 1994:For the first time, FAA certified an explosives detection system, the Invision CTX-5000. The system used computed tomography and high-quality x-ray technology to automatically locate suspicious objects in baggage. (See December 23, 1996)
Tuesday, December 13, 1994:An American Eagle commuter flight crashed on approach to Raleigh-Durham, N.C., killing 15 of the 20 persons aboard the BAe Jetstream 3201 aircraft. Capping a series of fatal airline accidents during 1994, the tragedy heightened public concern about the safety of both commuter and major air carriers. The next day, DOT Secretary Peña announced a three-point safety initiative, including: acceleration of FAA efforts to increase commuter safety standards to the level for large airlines (see December 14, 1995); a government/industry meeting on airline safety (see January 9, 1995); and a national airline safety audit, subsequently completed in December 1995. In October 1995, the National Transportation Safety Board cited the probable cause of the accident as errors by the captain, who had resigned from another airline following adverse performance evaluation. The Board’s recommendations stemming from the crash included establishment of a system for airlines to share information on pilot qualifications.
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.