FAA History: 1995

Monday, January 9, 1995:DOT and FAA opened a two-day “summit” Aviation Safety Conference on ways to improve safety measures and increase public confidence in airline transportation. More than 950 government and industry representatives attended the event, at which Transportation Secretary Federico Peña and FAA Administrator David Hinson urged cooperation to achieve a goal of zero accidents. Participants formed workshops and produced recommendations on six key areas: crew training; air traffic control and weather issues; safety data collection and use; applications of emerging technologies; aircraft maintenance procedures and inspections; and flight operating procedures. In response, FAA on February 9 published an Aviation Safety Action Plan that identified 173 safety initiatives. In publishing the plan, the agency noted that many airlines were voluntarily establishing safety offices reporting to their chief executives. The agency stated its intention to require airlines with aircraft seating more than nine passengers have independent safety offices. Among the action plan’s many features were emphasis on Advanced Qualification Program (AQP) training (see September 26, 1990) and on increased sharing of safety data. At the same time that it released the plan, FAA announced that it had reached agreement with the Air Line Pilots Association and Air Transport Association on a Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) program. The FOQA would permit the use of information from Flight Data Recorders to analyze safety trends rather than merely to investigate accidents and incidents. FAA would have access to the data, with pilot identities deleted. (See December 6, 1995.)
Wednesday, February 15, 1995:Commissioning of the final Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) capped FAA’s flight service modernization plan. On this date, all AFSSs also had the Model 1 Full Capacity system. By fiscal 1995’s end, 286 flight service stations had been consolidated into 61 AFSSs, 31 auxiliary stations, and one remaining conventional station. (See November 8, 1991.)
Friday, February 24, 1995:FAA announced a strengthened campaign against the use of suspected unapproved parts (SUPs) in aviation. The agency had expanded its SUP program in recent years, but its efforts had been criticized by Department of Transportation Inspector General A. Mary Schiavo. On February 27, FAA published a notice warning of its policy to enforce full compliance with relevant regulations and giving non-complaint firms until May 30 to apply for approval to manufacture aviation parts. On May 24, the agency announced a plan for an industry-operated accreditation program for aircraft parts brokers and distributors. On October 12, FAA issued a task force report that proposed a SUP program plan and the establishment of a national Suspected Unapproved Parts Program Office. This office was established on November 13, and its creation was formally documented in a directive issued on January 2, 1996.
Tuesday, February 28, 1995:At Denver International Airport’s opening day, air traffic controllers at the state-of-the-art facility cleared three aircraft to make the world’s first triple simultaneous landing. By this date, FAA had provided Airport Improvement Program grants totaling $267.6 million for the project, and had committed over $200 million more in Letters of Intent. In a February 1996 report on the airport’s first 11 months in operation, FAA stated that the facility had achieved a flight delay rate five times less than the airport it replaced, Stapleton International. (See May 17, 1988.)
Friday, March 31, 1995:FAA announced its first certification of an aircraft type designed and manufactured in the People’s Republic of China, the Model Y-12 Harbin. During the 1980s, FAA had provided certification expertise to Chinese authorities in connection with McDonnell Douglas’ manufacture of aircraft in China. The United States and China had concluded a bilateral airworthiness agreement on October 14, 1991, and a later expansion of this agreement permitted U.S. acceptance of small aircraft, such as the Y-12 Harbin, and certain aircraft components. (See March 15, 1986.)
Friday, April 14, 1995:Four FAA officials signed an agreement on the Integrated Product Development System (IPDS), greatly broadening the application of a new management approach. (The signers were the Associate Administrators for: Research and Acquisition; Regulation and Certification; Air Traffic Services; and Airports.) The IPDS called for the use of Integrated Product Teams (IPTs) as part of a tiered system of teams in research, acquisition, and the management of equipment life-cycles. The IPTs were multidisciplinary and cut across organizational lines to bring together customers and suppliers with the goal of improving products and services and expediting their delivery. The IPDS became a prominent feature of FAA’s new acquisition system (see April 1, 1996).
Wednesday, April 19, 1995:A bomb blast at the Alfred P. Murrah federal office building in Oklahoma City killed more than 160 persons and injured hundreds of others. FAA personnel participated in relief efforts.
Friday, April 21, 1995:FAA issued a rule establishing minimum combined experience levels for two airline pilots flying together and also upgrading operational experience requirements. The agency had proposed the rule in March 1993 in response to accidents and incidents in which a contributing factor was the pairing of inexperienced pilots.
Sunday, April 23, 1995:Effective this date, many government-owned aircraft became subject to FAA safety standards and procedures for the first time. The change resulted from legislation, enacted on October 25, 1994, that established a more restricted definition of “public aircraft.” It affected more than 5,000 planes and helicopters owned by Federal, state, and local governments and used for transporting officials or other passengers. The new statute also continued to require that FAA regulate air operations for which governments received compensation from other governmental entities. Aircraft remaining in the public-use category, and hence exempt from FAA oversight, included those used in fire fighting, search and rescue, aeronautical research, and law enforcement, as well as those operated by the armed forces or intelligence agencies.
Thursday, April 27, 1995:FAA announced an agreement with Loral Corp. on contract modifications regarding air traffic control modernization under the former Advanced Automation System program (see December 13, 1993). Loral would develop and implement the Display System Replacement (DSR), new automated workstations for controllers at en route centers and other key sites. On December 5, 1996, FAA announced that Loral had delivered the first DSR to the Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center, ten months ahead of schedule. The April 1995 agreement with Loral also included delivery of the first Tower Control Computer Complex (TCCC), with a future agreement for additional TCCC systems to be negotiated. The TCCC program was subsequently restructured, however, to provide modular upgrades to towers on an “as needed” basis.
Wednesday, May 10, 1995:Effective this date, DOT suspended rules requiring transportation companies to conduct pre-employment alcohol testing for safety-sensitive workers (see February 3, 1994). A Supreme Court decision of April 5, 1995, had vacated the Federal Highway Administration’s rule on this subject and raised questions about the validity of similar rules issued by FAA and the Federal Railroad Administration. At DOT’s request, Congress amended the relevant legislation to permit such tests rather than to require them. On May 9, 1996, DOT accordingly published a rulemaking proposal to harmonize the regulations with the legislation by making pre-employment testing voluntary for employers.
Sunday, May 28, 1995: Effective this date, DOT gave the Office of Airline Statistics the new name Office of Airline Information and transferred it from the Research and Special Projects Administration to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, a multi-modal agency which had been established in December 1992.
Thursday, June 8, 1995:FAA issued a number of safety tips on traveling with children by air and announced a coming campaign to promote use of child restraint systems, known as CRSs (see December 17, 1996). At the same time, FAA reconfirmed its decision not to require CRS use for children under 2 years of age. Such children were still allowed to fly on parent’s laps, customarily without tickets. The agency based its position on new research, released on the same day as part of a report to Congress. This research supported FAA’s view that a rule requiring CRS use would kill more children than it saved because the resulting increase in air travel costs would force many parents to choose modes of travel less safe than aviation. The agency also announced a proposal to ban certain inadequate CRS types (see September 21, 1994), an action accomplished in a final rule published on June 4, 1996.
Tuesday, June 13, 1995:FAA unveiled the National Plan for Civil Aviation Human Factors, a joint FAA-DOD-NASA initiative. The Plan outlined a national agenda to eliminate aviation accidents caused by human error. Its elements included: identifying needs and problems involving human performance; guiding research programs to address the human element; involving the nation’s top scientists and aviation professionals; and sharing the resulting information with the aviation community.
Tuesday, June 20, 1995:A series of encounters with turbulence on this date and June 25 and June 26 injured a total of over 40 airline passengers and crew members. On June 27, Secretary of Transportation Peña directed FAA to review recent turbulence incidents and determine whether new seat belt rules are needed. The next day, FAA issued a public advisory instructing airline passengers to use seat belts whenever seated. (See December 17, 1996.)
Wednesday, June 21, 1995:FAA and Australia’s Qantas Airlines completed the first in a series of operational trials of a satellite-based communication, navigation, and surveillance system. Known as the Future Air Navigation System (FANS) , the system was designed to improve communication between controllers and pilots on oceanic and remote flights. Other events related to oceanic aviation in 1995 included FAA’s July 26 announcement that the first component of the prototype Oceanic Data Link (ODL) system was operational at the Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center. Single sector air-to-ground communications using ODL became operational at Oakland in October. On September 22, meanwhile, FAA announced the award of a contract to Hughes Aircraft Company to develop the Advanced Oceanic Automation System (AOAS) to upgrade and automate the agency’s oceanic air traffic control systems. (See December 14, 1989.)
Wednesday, June 28, 1995:FAA directed airlines and airports in California to increase security measures and warned passengers to be alert for suspicious baggage and parcels. The precautions responded to a threat from the so-called “Unabomber” received by the San Francisco Chronicle on June 27. Postal authorities also implemented certain temporary restrictions on mailing packages from California. The Unabomber’s alleged crimes included several related to aviation, among them responsibility for an explosion in an American Airlines cargo hold on November 15, 1979, that caused 12 persons to suffer smoke inhalation. On April 3, 1996, Federal agents detained Theodore Kaczynski as a suspect in the Unabomber case.
Friday, June 30, 1995:At the Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center, FAA commissioned the first Voice Switching and Control System, known as VSCS (see October 21, 1986). The project was completed for all 21 en route centers on February 18, 1997, when VSCS became operational at the Jacksonville ARTCC. Meanwhile, on August 8, 1995, FAA had announced a contract with Denro, Inc, to build and install the Enhanced Terminal Voice Switch (ETVS). This system would provide to towers and approach control facilities the same benefits that VSCS gaves to en route centers. On November 1, 1995, FAA commissioned its 100th Small Tower Voice Switch (STVS), a system also produced by Denro.
Thursday, July 13, 1995:FAA announced that it and 11 airlines would establish a consortium to develop the framework for a worldwide Aeronautical Telecommunication Network (ATN).
Tuesday, August 1, 1995:FAA announced a decision to go forward as quickly as possible with the Display Channel Complex Rehost (DCCR) project to replace aging IBM 9020E computers at five Air Route Traffic Control Centers: Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Washington, Cleveland, and New York. The centers had experienced 20 display channel complex failures in the past four months. On August 9, loss of electrical power at the Oakland center highlighted another type of outage problem. On August 11, a DOT/FAA announcement described steps to combat equipment service interruptions, including reviews of the problem by both FAA and outside experts, additional training, and hiring of 116 more maintenance technicians. On August 30, FAA announced award of a contract to Loral Corp. for DCCR production and installation. Highly-publicized outages at the Chicago center and other facilities prompted DOT and FAA statements during the next two months describing remedial actions and assuring the public that the air traffic control system was safe. On October 25, FAA awarded a five-year contract for new emergency electrical systems to provide backup power to air traffic facilities nationwide. (See April 1, 1996.)
Tuesday, August 1, 1995:DOT announced the availability of a Global Positioning System (GPS) signal specification defining performance standards for civil aviation use. On August 3, a consortium led by Wilcox Electric received an FAA contract to develop and field the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) to enhance GPS signals. (See June 2, 1994 and March 29, 1996.)
Wednesday, August 2, 1995:DOT and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) released to Congress a joint study on aviation inspection programs. The study concluded that USDA actions during 1994 had reduced to a minimal level duplication between FAA inspections and USDA’s inspections of its aviation activities.
Monday, August 7, 1995:DOT announced that the Office of Commercial Space Transportation would move from the Office of the Secretary to FAA, effective October 1, 1995. The change was part of a larger DOT reorganization aimed at streamlining the Department in accordance with the National Performance Review (see September 7, 1993). The transfer of the office was delayed, however, until sanctioned by legislation (see November 15, 1995).
Wednesday, August 9, 1995:DOT stated that the Clinton Administration had directed Cabinet agencies to review their security practices. As a result, FAA had determined a need for, and was requiring, increased security by all airports and air carriers in the United States. The action was based on information from intelligence and law enforcement agencies but did not reflect a specific threat. On October 1, DOT announced a further heightening of aviation security. The Department again stated that the measure was not based on a specific threat, but press reports linked it such factors as the conviction on the same day of Islamic militants accused of a conspiracy to bomb locations in New York. (See July 17, 1996.)
Thursday, September 7, 1995:FAA announced that it was putting into operation a new Safety Performance Analysis System (SPAS), an automated decision support system designed to aid in targeting inspection and certification resources. By the end of fiscal 1996, the SPAS operational test system was in use by selected inspectors at 58 FAA offices.
Tuesday, September 12, 1995:Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) introduced a bill to reform FAA while keeping it within DOT. The bill gave the agency more flexibility in personnel and acquisition matters (an approach that was also part of a bill to provide DOT’s fiscal 1996 appropriation: see November 15, 1995). The McCain bill also provided for a system of financing FAA that emphasized fees for services. The Secretary of Transportation and FAA Administrator immediately endorsed the bill, a position that marked the Clinton Administration’s shift away from its drive to create a government corporation for air traffic control (see May 3, 1994).
Wednesday, September 13, 1995:The United States and the Netherlands signed the world’s first bilateral aviation safety agreement (BASA), a new type of agreement aimed at promoting safety by creating a regulatory partnership. The BASA included provisions on increased cooperation in such areas as aircraft certification and the approval and/or monitoring of airmen, training, flight operations, and maintenance facilities. By the end of 1996, the United States had concluded five more BASAs with Britain, Germany, France, Malaysia, and Switzerland.
Saturday, September 16, 1995:Pres. Clinton declared Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands disaster areas due to Hurricane Marilyn. Aviation-related effects of the storm included severe damage to the tower at Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas. FAA worked with the Air Force to transport a mobile tower to the island, and took other actions to restore air service.
Tuesday, September 26, 1995:FAA issued a rule on investigations of persons seeking unescorted access to secure areas of airports, requiring disqualification of applicants who had been convicted of certain crimes in the past 10 years. The new rule, which replaced a less stringent November 1985 regulation, fulfilled a provision of the Aviation Security Improvement Act (see November 16, 1990).
Friday, October 6, 1995:FAA issued a rule requiring manufacturers of new design transport category rotorcraft to minimize the adverse effects of turbine engine rotor failure.
Friday, October 27, 1995:The first Alaskan “Alliance for Safety” meeting took place in Anchorage, with participants from FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the military, the aviation community, and related industries. A committee formed at this meeting developed a sample safety program for use by the state’s numerous and diverse air taxi and commuter operators. In March 1996, the program was presented at a convention of the Alaskan air carriers. Meanwhile, on November 28, 1995, NTSB issued a report on Alaskan aviation safety that contained a variety of recommendations for FAA, the National Weather Service, and state authorities. In comparing the state’s fatal accident rates in recent years with that of the rest of the nation, the report concluded that in Alaska: commuter airline fatal accident rates remained greater despite improvement; air taxi fatal accident rates had fluctuated but were generally greater; and general aviation fatal accident rates were comparable.
Tuesday, October 31, 1995:FAA announced its final decision on the New Jersey Environmental Impact Statement (see March 11, 1991). The agency rejected a plan to reroute many flights over the ocean, but accepted a measure known as the Solberg Mitigation Proposal for implementation in early 1996. This measure involved routing changes to reduce noise in the Scotch Plains and Fanwood areas.
Monday, November 13, 1995:At midnight on this date, funding for much of the Federal government lapsed with the expiration of a continuing resolution that had been approved by the Congress and President in October. As instructed by the Office of Management and Budget, Federal agencies implemented shutdown plans by 12:30 pm on November 14. Employees were placed on furlough, with the exception of those exempted because their positions: directly affected safety or the protection of property; were necessary for the orderly shutdown of operations; or did not require further congressional action for their funding. About 7,800 FAA employees were furloughed, but most of the agency’s personnel were exempted. (See November 15, 1995.)
Wednesday, November 15, 1995:President Clinton received from Congress and signed the fiscal 1996 DOT appropriations bill, allowing all furloughed DOT employees to return to work on the morning of November 16. (The furlough ended government-wide on November 20.) The DOT appropriations legislation provided $8.216 billion for FAA, and included important provisions for FAA personnel and procurement reform (see April 1, 1996). It also cleared the way for the transfer of the Office of Commercial Space Transportation from the Office of the Secretary of Transportation to FAA (see August 7, 1995). The transfer became effective on November 16, and the director of this new FAA line-of-business organization became an Associate Administrator reporting to the Administrator.
Friday, November 17, 1995:DOT announced a plan to implement congressionally-mandated reductions in Essential Air Service subsidies in a manner designed to maintain the highest possible level of service to communities eligible under the program, which had been established by the Airline Deregulation Act (see October 24, 1978).
Wednesday, December 6, 1995:DOT and FAA opened a two-day Aviation Safety Initiative Review meeting to evaluate safety actions since the earlier “summit” conference (see January 9, 1995) and set the safety agenda for 1996. Some 300 aviation safety experts attended the event. On the second day of the meeting, airline representatives announced a January 22 launch date for the new Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) program to share data from flight recorders (see September 18, 1996). Following the meeting, FAA published an updated Aviation Safety Action Plan in February 1996. Another meeting in December 1996 was followed by a revised plan issued in 1997.
Thursday, December 14, 1995:FAA announced the Commuter Safety Initiative, a group of new rules aimed at providing a single level of safety for travelers on airliners ranging from “ten-seaters” to jumbo jets. The Commuter Safety Initiative represented one part of a three-point program unveiled a year earlier (see December 13, 1994), and was based on a proposal issued on March 16 in an accelerated rulemaking effort. The new rules required many commuter airlines formerly operating under Federal Aviation Regulations Part 135 to operate under the stricter Part 121 governing major airlines. This change applied to scheduled passenger operations using airliners with 10 to 30 passenger seats or using turbojets. The rules also contained provisions on standards for airplane performance and for flightcrew training and qualifications. In addition, the regulations extended to commuter airline pilots the age-60 rule on mandatory retirement, which had formerly applied only to airline pilots flying larger aircraft (see March 15, 1960). Finally, the Commuter Safety Initiative included a notice of proposed rulemaking on new common standards regarding rest requirements and limitations on duty and flight time for airline flightcrew members.
Wednesday, December 20, 1995:An American Airlines 757 crashed into a mountain while attempting an approach to Cali, Colombia, killing 159 of the 163 persons aboard. The Colombian accident report cited the probable cause as errors by the flightcrew, who had entered incorrect data into their Flight Management System (FMS). Alerted by the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS), the crew tried to pull up but failed to retract the speedbrakes. In response to the crash and to National Transportation Safety Board recommendations, FAA undertook efforts aimed at improvements in FMSs and their use as well as in charting and pilot training. The agency began evaluations of possible regulatory requirements for: automatic speedbrake retraction for situations requiring maximum thrust and climb; visual “angle-of-attack” indicators to aid pilots in safely obtaining maximum climb; and Enhanced GPWS (see November 6, 1996).
Sunday, December 31, 1995:Authority to collect aviation user taxes expired at midnight. By this date, the tax levels had risen to: domestic airline passenger ticket tax; 10 percent; international departure tax, $6 per passenger; domestic air cargo tax, 6.25 percent of the freight waybill; non-commercial jet fuel, 17.5 cents per gallon; and non-commercial aviation gasoline tax, 15 cents per gallon (14 cents of which continued to be collected and deposited in the Highway Trust Fund). Loss of this revenue quickly reduced the amount of money in the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. Legislation enacted on August 20, 1996, temporarily reinstated these taxes, effective August 27, but they expired again at the end of CY 1996.
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.