FAA History: 2002

Saturday, January 5, 2002:Fifteen-year-old Charles Bishop, a flight student, took off in a Cessna, leaving his instructor behind, and crashed the plane into the Bank of America Plaza in downtown Tampa, Florida. Bishop, the only fatality in the crash, ignored warnings from an intercepting Coast Guard helicopter to land. The crash rekindled the debate surrounding the security of general aviation, spurred another round of meetings among top security officials, and lead FAA to issue a Flight Standards Service notice proposing eleven recommendations for possible security enhancements around airports. The proposed enhancements included having separate ignition and door lock keys for aircraft, limiting student pilots’ access to aircraft keys until they reached a specific point in the training curriculum, keeping student pilots under supervision of a flight instructor at all times, establishing positive identification of any student pilot before every flight lesson, and requiring a parent or legal guardian to co-sign enrollment applications for students who were not legal adults. Other recommendations called for aircraft owners to take appropriate steps to secure unattended aircraft. (See December 20, 2001; January 15, 2002.)
Tuesday, January 15, 2002:Effective this date, FAA mandated new standards to protect cockpits from intruders and the effects of small arms fire or fragmentation devices, such as grenades. The Aviation and Transportation Security Act authorized the FAA to issue the final rule, which required operators of more than 6,000 airplanes to install reinforced doors by April 9, 2003. The agency also issued a special federal aviation regulation (SFAR) requiring operators to install temporary internal locking devices within 45 days on all passenger airplanes and on airplanes equipped with cargo cockpit doors. October 17, FAA issued a series of SFARs that authorized short-term door reinforcement by providing airlines and cargo operators with temporary relief from certain FAA standards. The major U.S. airlines voluntarily installed short-term fixes to the cockpit doors of 4,000 aircraft in 32 days. The SFAR stated that a long-term fix that meets FAA requirements must be installed within 18 months. (See January 5, 2002; January 18, 2002.)
Friday, January 18, 2002:Effective this date, airlines had to inspect all checked baggage for explosives. (See January 15, 2002; February 13, 2002.)
Saturday, January 26, 2002:FAA launched the User Request Evaluation Tool (URET), a software decision-support tool designed to aide controllers in providing direct routes to high altitude aircraft more quickly, at the Memphis Air Route Traffic Control Center. January 27, controllers began using URET at the Indianapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center and on January 30 at the Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center. With Kansas City center already up and running, four URET sites were then in service. (See December 2001; May 6, 2002.)
Tuesday, February 5, 2002:FAA proposed new certification requirements for light-sport aircraft, pilots, and repairmen. Previous FAA regulations had not addressed the sport pilot segment of general aviation. The proposal defined light-sport aircraft as simple, low performance, low-energy aircraft that would be limited to:
  • 1,232 lbs. maximum weight,
  • Two occupants,
  • A single engine (non-turbine),
  • Stall speed of 39 knots,
  • Maximum airspeed of 115 knots, and
  • Fixed landing gear.
  • FAA also included two new categories in the sport aircraft proposal – weight-shift control aircraft and powered parachutes. (See September 1, 2004.)
Wednesday, February 13, 2002:FAA issued an emergency rule enabling private flying to resume under new strict security procedures at three airports in suburban Maryland outside Washington, DC, which had been largely shut down since September 11, 2001. The reinstated airports were: College Park, Potomac, and Washington Executive/Hyde. (See January 18, 2002; February 17, 2002.)
Sunday, February 17, 2002:Effective this date, formal responsibility for aviation security transferred from FAA to TSA. (See February 13, 2002; March 13, 2002.)
Friday, February 22, 2002:FAA announced establishment of government/industry agreements with three companies for the development of technology that would integrate digital voice and data into air/ground communications. Under the agreements, Rockwell Collins Commercial Systems, Honeywell Aerospace Electronic Systems, and Avidyne Corp. would develop VHF digital link mode-3 (VDL-3) avionics. The FAA would partially fund industry development of the airborne components of Next Generation Air/Ground Communications (NEXCOM) program, which would replace the ground radio system currently used for air traffic control communications with state-of-the-art digital technology. (See July 31, 2001; July 15, 2002.)
Monday, February 25, 2002:FAA announced pilots could now receive up-to-date weather information in the cockpit via VHF data link mode 2 (VDL-2) avionics that supported flight information services broadcast. Pilots of properly equipped aircraft could receive text messages, including routine and special weather reports, terminal area forecasts, and pilot reports issued by the FAA or the National Weather Service at no cost. They could also receive graphic products such as weather maps, and other flight information services products available through a subscription service.
Thursday, February 28, 2002: The Department of Transportation Inspector General released an audit of FAA’s progress in acquiring the Weather and Radar Processor (WARP), which would provide meteorologists and air traffic controllers more accurate and reliable information to lessen the effects of bad weather. The IG found that FAA had experienced significant problems managing the development and deployment of WARP on controller displays – mostly because of human factors and technical problems. He also found the program’s current cost baseline was not realistic and the schedule was at risk. Since 1995, estimated program costs had increased from $227.8 million to $276.8 million. (See March 2002.)
Wednesday, March 13, 2002:Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced that flight operations at Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport would be authorized to return to their pre-September 11, 2001, capacity by April 15, completing full restoration of the nation’s commercial aviation system. Since the airport reopened on October 4, 2001, the facility had been returning in phases to full capacity, giving the Federal Government and local authorities a chance to implement enhanced security measures at all airports serving Reagan National. During the first phase of restored flights, service was allowed to eight cities. Phase 2, which had begun October 26, permitted service to an additional 18 cities. Phase 3, carried out in three stages, began January 2 with incremental increases on February 1 and March 1. Service to a total of 43 additional cities was restored during phase 3, during which approximately 620 daily flights were operated at the airport – 77 percent of its pre-September 11 total. With a return to full service, traffic would be able to grow to its previous total of approximately 800 daily flights. (See February 17, 2002; June 21, 2002.)
Thursday, March 21, 2002:The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 was the airplane’s departure from normal cruise flight and subsequent impact with the Atlantic Ocean as a result of the relief first officer’s flight control inputs. EgyptAir Flight 990, a Boeing 767-366ER, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts on October 31, 1999. The scheduled flight was being operated from John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, to Cairo International Airport, Cairo, Egypt. The 14 crewmembers and 203 passengers were killed and the airplane destroyed. Because the crash occurred in international waters, the Egyptian government had responsibility for the investigation under the provisions of Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. However, the Egyptian government delegated the conduct of the investigation to the NTSB under the provisions of Annex 13. (See October 31, 1999.)
Tuesday, March 26, 2002:Department of Transportation and Department of Defense (DoD) Secretaries Norman Mineta and Donald Rumsfeld announced the release of the 2001 Federal Radionavigation Plan. This plan included revised schedules for phasing down most land-based radionavigation systems to allow more time to transition to the global positioning system. Department of Transportation would continue to operate Loran-C in the short term while the administration continued to evaluate the long-term need for the system. Beginning with this edition, federal radionavigation information previously contained in a single document would be published in two separate documents, the Federal Radionavigation Plan, and a companion document entitled Federal Radionavigation Systems. The plan included the introduction, policies, operating plans, system selection considerations, and research and development sections, and would allow more efficient and responsive updates of policy and planning information. Sections relating to government roles and responsibilities, user requirements, and systems descriptions were moved to the companion document and would be updated as necessary. A joint product of the Department of Transportation and DoD, the radionavigation plan was mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 1998, which also required that the plan be revised and updated at least every two years. (See February 2000.)
Friday, March 29, 2002:In response to the En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) screening information request (SIR) issued March 15, Raytheon filed a formal protest of FAA’s sole-sourcing plans to judge bids for the ERAM contract. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin had been the only firms planning to bid on ERAM. Subsequently, an alternative dispute resolution process was set up, FAA shelved the sole-source proposal, and the agency worked with both companies to craft a new SIR. Late June 2002, FAA formalized an agreement between Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to resolve the ERAM contract dispute. Lockheed Martin was awarded the contract worth $10 million for the risk mitigation phase of the ERAM program, with Raytheon named as one of the subcontractors. At the same time, Lockheed Martin was named as a subcontractor to Raytheon on the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) project. If Lockheed Martin successfully executed the risk mitigation phase, it would secure the implementation contract for the full ERAM program. The total projected value for implementation and support was estimated at $1 billion through 2012. (See September 28, 2001; June 30, 2003.)
March 2002:FAA awarded a $26 million follow-on contract to Harris Corporation to maintain and support the Weather and Radar Processor (WARP). Under the original contract, a $72.5 million design and development award given to Harris in July 1996, FAA tasked the firm to develop, procure, install, and support 24 WARP systems at FAA air route traffic control centers and the Air Traffic Control System Command Center. The follow-on contract covered general support and hardware and software maintenance through September 2004. Future awards and options could increase the overall contract value to more than $125 million by 2004. (See February 28 2002; May 2002.)
Monday, April 1, 2002:Under contract to FAA’s Capstone Program Office in Anchorage, Alaska, General Dynamics Decision Systems, successfully demonstrated a direct small aircraft-to-satellite navigation communications data link capability. Using a Motorola hand-held satellite telephone in a University of Alaska Cessna 180, General Dynamics conducted its proof-of-concept demonstration, transmitting a live stream of aircraft position data, via the Iridium satellite system, to the Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center. The test flight departed Merrill Field, proceeded along the Knik Arm of Cook Inlet, past Pioneer Peak, and continued deep into the Knik Glacier valley. (See January 1, 2001; July 1, 2002.)
Wednesday, April 3, 2002:FAA announced it had issued space launch licenses to two U.S. launch vehicles, the Lockheed Martin Atlas V and the Boeing Delta IV rockets. Both were scheduled to fly before the end of the year, each carrying commercial satellite payloads. The new vehicles were highly advanced models of the Atlas and Delta vehicles which had served as the workhorses of U.S. government and commercial launches for many years. (See February 9, 2001; April 1, 2004.)
Monday, April 8, 2002:Department of Transportation Inspector General for Auditing, Alexis Stefani, testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Aviation Subcommittee on FAA’s oversight of passenger aircraft maintenance. Stefani stated that while FAA’s Air Transport Oversight System (ATOS) for monitoring air carriers was conceptually sound, it was not reaching its full potential at the original ten major carriers and had not been expanded to the remaining 129 passenger air carriers. FAA had a longstanding requirement for carriers to monitor their own maintenance. The carriers, however, placed limited emphasis on information derived from Continuing Analysis and Surveillance Systems, a subcomponent of ATOS used to monitor the effectiveness of their aircraft maintenance and inspection programs. As a result, weaknesses had gone undetected in air carrier maintenance systems. Stefani recommended FAA:
  • Finish developing key elements of ATOS – specifically, processes for analyzing inspection results and ensuring that corrective actions were implemented for weaknesses found in air carrier maintenance and operations systems,
  • Improve inspector training and locating qualified inspectors where they were most needed, and
  • Establish strong national oversight and accountability to ensure consistent ATOS field implementation. (See October 1, 1998.)
Saturday, April 27, 2002:A new terminal radar control facility (TRACON) began providing air traffic approach and departure control for the entire St. Louis metropolitan area. Airport traffic control tower facilities supported by the new TRACON included St. Louis Lambert International Airport (St. Louis); Spirit of St. Louis Airport; (Chesterfield, Missouri); St. Louis Regional Airport (Alton, Illinois); St. Louis Downtown Airport (Cahokia, Illinois); and Scott Mid-America Airport (Belleville, Illinois), a joint-use facility also responsible for directing air traffic for Scott Air Force Base.
Monday, May 6, 2002:FAA announced the successful deployment of the User Request Evaluation Tool (URET) at the Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center in Leesburg, Virginia. URET allowed pilots to select more direct routes to their destinations. The new digital system was one of many building blocks in the FAA Free Flight technology. In addition to Washington, URET was in use at five other air route traffic control centers (Kansas City, Cleveland, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Memphis). (See January 26, 2002; October 30, 2006.)
Thursday, May 9, 2002:FAA announced the operational use of the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) in El Paso, Texas. This upgraded version, referred to as full STARS, completely replaced the Automated Radar Terminal Systems (ARTS). Full STARS consisted of state-of-the-art displays and computers providing radar service and a backup service. The full system was being developed in phases so that the concerns of technicians and air traffic controllers could be addressed. In 1999, El Paso and Syracuse, New York, had received an early version of STARS, which had attached STARS to the ARTS processing system. (See January 12, 2000; June 12, 2002.)
Friday, May 10, 2002:FAA issued a proposed rule that would reduce the minimum vertical separation between aircraft from the current 2,000 feet to 1,000 feet for all aircraft flying between 29,000 and 41,000 feet, thus allowing more airplanes in the same volume of airspace. At the time, aircraft at those altitudes had to be separated by 2,000 feet vertically, meaning they could fly only at 29,000, 31,000, 33,000 feet and so forth. Implementing Reduced Vertical Separation Minima procedures was intended to increase the routes and altitudes available and lead to more efficient routings that would save time and fuel. (See December 10, 2001; October 22, 2003.)
May 2002:The Fort Worth Air Traffic Control Center became the first facility to go operational with the Weather and Radar Processor (WARP) on the controller displays. WARP displayed Terminal Doppler Weather Radar information directly to controllers on the same screen as aircraft position data, thus helping controllers to reroute air traffic to avoid areas of severe weather. FAA planned to install WARP at the other en route centers during June and July and have the system operational at all the center sites by the end of October. (See March 2002; January 23, 2003.)
Wednesday, June 12, 2002:FAA announced plans to purchase new radar automation display systems for some low- to medium-activity airports that currently lacked radar displays. The display systems were part of the FAA’s plan for providing interim tower displays in advance of the full national deployment of the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS). Called the ARTS IE (Automated Radar Terminal Systems IE) and STARS LITE (STARS local integrated tower equipment), the displays were based on existing air traffic control technology, enabling the FAA to minimize the need for additional testing, evaluation and training. (See May 9, 2002; September 17, 2002.)
Friday, June 14, 2002:GAO concluded FAA’s controller hiring plans were inadequate, and that the widely publicized problem of controller retirements was going to be even worse than the agency had predicted. Investigating controller attrition at the direction of Congress, the GAO reported that about 5,000 controllers might retire in the next five years, double the number who retired in the previous five years. Although the exact number and timing of the controllers’ departures had not been determined, attrition scenarios developed by both FAA and GAO indicated that the total attrition would grow substantially in both the short and long term. As a result, FAA would likely need to hire thousands of air traffic controllers in the next decade to meet increasing traffic demands and to address the anticipated attrition of experienced controllers.
Friday, June 21, 2002:FAA issued a notice of agency reconsideration of final rule regarding the charging of fees for providing air traffic services required by aircraft that fly in U.S.-controlled airspace but neither take off from, nor land in, the United States. Since August 1, 2000, the agency had been charging fees for these overflight services. Authorized by the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996, the fees were amended by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, enacted on November 19, 2001. The newer legislation further required that the fees be “reasonably,” rather than directly, related to costs. The 2001 Act provided that the determination of costs by the FAA Administrator was not subject to judicial review. On May 6, 2002, FAA published a notice of inquiry in the Federal Register seeking public comment on whether, and to what (if any) extent, these statutory changes required the agency to modify its final rule on fees. (See August 20, 2001.)
Friday, June 21, 2002:Effective this date, FAA required improved flightdeck security and operational and procedures changes to prevent unauthorized access to the flightdeck on passenger-carrying aircraft and some cargo aircraft operated by foreign carriers under the provisions of part 129. This final rule applied the same flightdeck security enhancements to foreign air carriers as applied to U.S. air carriers. (See March 13, 2002; October 28, 2002.)
Wednesday, June 26, 2002:FAA announced plans to upgrade the tower data link services (TDLS) to enhance the reliability of service between tower controllers and pilots. The upgrade would include changes to system hardware, software, and supporting technical documentation. Philadelphia and Boston Logan International airports would receive the upgrades first. Over the following 12 months, FAA planned to upgrade 58 high-density airport towers in the U.S. then using TDLS. In all, the system was used by 17 major airlines and two general aviation service providers who relayed flight information to 1,400 aircraft and two cargo carriers.
Monday, July 1, 2002:FAA announced that flight service station specialists in Anderson, South Carolina, had begun using the Operational and Supportability Implementation System (OASIS), part of the agency’s program to modernize 61 automated flight service stations in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The stations provided in-flight planning and up-to-date weather information to general aviation pilots. OASIS consisted of commercial-off-the-shelf hardware and software to combine weather, flight plan, and aeronautical database information within a single system. (See August 25, 1997.)
Monday, July 1, 2002:FAA announced it had completed the technical and economic evaluations of alternative ADS-B technologies and decided that ADS-B would use a combination of the 1090 MHz extended squitter ADS-B link for air carrier and private/commercial operators of high performance aircraft, and the Universal Access Transceiver ADS-B link for the typical general aviation user. ADS-B airborne systems would transmit an aircraft’s identity, position, velocity, and intent to other aircraft and to air traffic control systems on the ground, allowing for common situational awareness to all appropriately equipped users of the national airspace system. (See April 1, 2002; August 30, 2007.)
Monday, July 15, 2002:FAA announced that Harris Corporation had been awarded a contract to modernize, operate, and manage the telecommunications infrastructure that air traffic controllers use to communicate with each other and with pilots. The contract called for the replacement of FAA-owned multiplexing and switching networks, as well as telecommunications services leased from multiple providers. The performance-based contract consisted of a five-year base with options that could extend the period of performance up to 15 years. The FAA anticipated the contract value to grow beyond the initial evaluated cost of approximately $1.7 billion to an estimated $3.5 billion.
Monday, July 15, 2002:While lauding FAA’s initiative to develop new communications technologies that would support future air traffic management needs, a GAO report recommended the agency assess the possible impact of emerging technologies on the effort. Anticipated growth in air traffic would require more channels for voice communication than FAA’s current systems could handle, according to the report. The agency had undertaken its Next Generation Air/Ground Communications (NEXCOM) initiative to develop an integrated voice and data communications system that would keep pace with future needs. According to the GAO report, FAA eventually would require aviation users to buy new radios and other equipment to support the system. The agency estimated its long-term funding commitment to NEXCOM could reach $4 billion through fiscal year 2023. Members of the House Subcommittee on Aviation had asked GAO to determine to what extent the FAA’s current communications infrastructure could meet future needs, what FAA had done to ensure that the technology selected for NEXCOM would be adequate, and what issues the agency had to resolve before it made its final decision. (See February 22, 2002; February 5, 2003.)
Wednesday, July 17, 2002:The White House announced its intention to nominate National Transportation Safety Board Chair Marion Blakey to become FAA Administrator after Jane Garvey’s five-year term ended. Blakey, 54, had been at NTSB for less than a year, having been selected for the post in June 2001 and sworn in September. Before becoming NTSB chairman, Blakey, a native of Gadsden, Alabama, spent eight years – during the Clinton Administration – running her own public affairs consulting business, Blakey & Associates. Before that she held numerous government posts in Republican administrations, including jobs with the Departments of Commerce and Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the White House. She was Administrator of Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under the senior President Bush from 1992-1993. She was a 1970 graduate of Mary Washington College, and did graduate work in Middle East affairs while attending the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. (See August 2, 2002.)
Thursday, July 18, 2002:FAA awarded the Boeing Company a $23 million contract to examine the feasibility of incorporating satellite-based communications and air traffic management systems into the national airspace system. This was the first significant FAA contract for Boeing’s new air traffic management division.
Friday, August 2, 2002:Jane Garvey’s five year term as FAA Administrator ended. The Senate confirmation hearing for FAA Administrator-designate Marion Blakey, originally scheduled for this date, was postponed. Secretary Mineta named Monte Belger acting administrator. In an earlier memo to the FAA management team, the Secretary announced that Belger had agreed to stay on beyond his planned retirement date to aid in the transition. If Blakey had been confirmed, Belger would have been acting deputy administrator through August 30. (See August 4, 1999; November 8, 1999; July 17, 2002; September 13, 2002.)
Monday, August 5, 2002:FAA announced that it was providing pilots with Internet access to runway visual range (RVR) information, an electronic means to display how far a pilot with normal vision would be able to see down the runway during an approach. Pilots and flight operations centers used RVR in deciding whether to land at an airport when visibility was poor. Previously, RVR information had been available only to selected air carriers as part of the FAA’s CDM initiative, where it was used for traffic management planning.
Wednesday, August 7, 2002:Effective this date, FAA amended the noise certification standards for subsonic jet airplanes and subsonic transport category large airplanes. These changes were based on the joint effort of FAA, the European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA), and the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, to harmonize the U.S. noise certification regulations and the JAA requirements for subsonic jet airplanes and subsonic transport category large airplanes. The changes would provide nearly uniform noise certification standards for airplanes granted certificates in the United States and in the JAA countries. The harmonization of the noise certification standards would also simplify airworthiness approvals for import and export purposes.
Tuesday, August 27, 2002:FAA issued a final rule confirming interim final rules published on September 29, 1992, and December 30, 1993, requiring deicing operations in ground icing conditions. The interim final rules required Part 121 certificate holders to develop and comply with a FAA approved ground deicing/anti-icing program, part 125 certificate holders to provide pilot testing on conducting operations in ground icing conditions, part 135 certificate holders to provide pilot training on conducting operations in ground icing conditions, and part 125 and 135 certificate holders to check airplanes for contamination (i.e., frost, ice, or snow) prior to takeoff when ground icing conditions exist.
Monday, September 9, 2002:FAA announced plans to develop, and implement within the next year, a plan to establish an air navigation concept called Required Navigation Performance (RNP). Under RNP, the national airspace system would evolve from a ground-based design to one where aircraft could take full advantage of advanced technologies for precision guidance in the en route (high-altitude) and terminal (about a 40-mile radius of the airport) areas. Potential benefits would include allowing more precision approach and departure paths at airports and keeping aircraft clear of obstacles and terrain. Using RNP, flight paths could be developed that met operators’ preferred routes and environmental requirements. Parallel paths also could be developed to increase airspace capacity, both in en route and terminal operations. (See October 8, 2002.)
Friday, September 13, 2002:Marion C. Blakey was sworn in as the 15th Administrator of FAA. (See August 2, 2002.)
Friday, September 13, 2002:Monte Belger, long-serving acting FAA deputy administrator retired. Belger worked for FAA for more than 30 years. He joined the agency in 1972 as a security inspector in Tampa, Florida. From 1980 to 1988, he held three senior management positions in the Great Lakes region. In 1992, he was named executive director for acquisitions and safety oversight. Since 1995, Belger had been associate administrator for air traffic services, responsible for the daily operations of the national airspace system. In 1998, he was named acting deputy administrator. (See August 2, 2002; November 2, 2002.)
Sunday, September 15, 2002:FAA commissioned a new state-of-the-art air traffic control tower at the Orlando International Airport. The new tower, at 345 feet, became the tallest in North America.
Tuesday, September 17, 2002:The Department of Transportation Inspector General expressed concerns about progress on deploying the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) . The IG had pointed out that FAA had officially changed the cost, schedule, and requirements for STARS twice. In October 1999, FAA estimated the cost for its new approach at $1.4 billion, with a schedule to begin deploying STARS in 2002 at 188 facilities, with installation to be complete at all facilities by 2008. The second change occurred in March 2002, when FAA lowered its estimate from $1.4 billion to $1.33 billion, reduced the number of facilities receiving STARS from 188 to 74, and changed the date to complete installation at all facilities from 2008 to 2005. FAA responded to the IG concerns by stating it planned to follow its policy for testing STARS and addressing critical software problems. Because FAA had changed the date for deploying STARS at the first facility from 1998 to 2002, the agency was implementing interim systems to allow it to continue to meet demands for air traffic services. (See June 12, 2002; September 20, 2002.)
Friday, September 20, 2002:Raytheon defended the Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) in a statement responding to a recent GAO report that cited critical software problems with the system. FAA planned to introduce STARS at the Philadelphia TRACON on November 18. STARS would control live traffic there, with the current system serving as a backup. FAA expected to commission formally the new system in February 2003. (See September 17, 2002; February 4, 2003.)
Thursday, October 3, 2002:FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require FAA approved corrosion prevention and control programs to be included in the maintenance and inspection of all airplanes operated under part 121 of Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, all multiengine airplanes registered in the U.S. but operated in common carriage by foreign air carriers or foreign persons under 14 CFR part 129, and all multiengine airplanes used in scheduled operations under 14 CFR part 135.
Friday, October 4, 2002:FAA proposed a two-step program for getting more crash-resistant seats into airplane cabins. Once finalized, these steps would place current-standard “16g” seats in the U.S. fleet within 14 years. FAA proposed giving manufacturers of Part 121 and 135 aircraft four years to get the new seats onto production lines. In-service planes would require the upgrades within 14 years, or when seats were replaced as part of interior upgrades, starting four years after the rule’s publication. FAA would tackle the production lines first because new-build planes would have longer useful lives than inservice jets. A FAA study concluded that 16g seats – already in service on many planes – would prevent 114 passenger deaths and 133 serious injuries through 2020. The then current 9g minimum standard, established in the 1950s, used a static test to measure how much force could be applied to a seat before it broke. The new 16g standard was based on a dynamic test using real-life crash impact data.
Monday, October 7, 2002:Controller-Pilot Datalink Communications (CPDLC) became operational at the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center. The prototype system, which had been tested for one year at Miami, offered four services:
  • Transfer of communications (an obligatory data transfer process occurring with a flight’s hand-off from one sector to another).
  • Initial contact (an obligatory exchange of information occurring at the time of a crew’s first check-in with an air traffic control facility).
  • Exchange of altimeter setting information.
  • Exchange of “menu text” to determine what types of messages proved most beneficial to pilots and controllers. (See February 4, 2000.)
Monday, October 7, 2002:FAA published a final rule requiring Boeing 737 operators to install a newly designed rudder control system and make other changes to the aircraft to accommodate the new system. The new design increased the overall safety of the aircraft by simplifying the rudder system and eliminating a range of failure possibilities. Operators had six year to install the new system. (See November 13, 2001.)
Tuesday, October 8, 2002:In a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey announced that, within a month, FAA would approve Required Navigation Performance (RNP) procedures for San Francisco International Airport. Through the use of onboard technology, pilots would be able to navigate aircraft to any point in the world using only geographical coordinates. (See September 9, 2002; December 31, 2002.)
Monday, October 28, 2002:Effective this date, FAA revised the pilot certificate requirements to require a person to carry approved photo identification when exercising the privileges of a pilot certificate. Additionally, the rule required a pilot certificate holder to present photo identification when requested by authorities including a duly-authorized representative of the FAA, NTSB, TSA, or a law enforcement agency. (See June 21, 2002; February 10, 2003.)
Friday, November 22, 2002:The White House announced plans to nominate Robert Sturgell, senior counsel to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, to fill the vacant FAA deputy administrator post. (See September 13, 2002.)
Saturday, November 23, 2002:FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive for Boeing 737-600s and -700s, 700Cs, 900s, 747s, and 757s after two fuel tank pumps on separate 747s showed “extreme localized overheating of parts.” The AD gave carriers four days to comply. The parts in question were located in the priming and vapor pump section of the fuel pump. FAA said the likely cause of the overheating was friction between the pump parts but found no specific cause. (See June 6, 2001; July 30, 2004.)
Wednesday, November 27, 2002:FAA issued a final rule for air tour operators that called for development of site specific plans to protect the environment of U.S. national parks. The rule, crafted with input from the National Park Service (NPS), accommodated the varied interests of visitors to the parks, Native American tribes, and local air tour operators. The National Parks Air Tour Management Act of 2000 had directed the FAA, in cooperation with NPS, to establish an Air Tour Management Plan (ATMP) for any unit of the National Park System, or abutting tribal lands, where commercial air tour operations were conducted or planned. To continue air tour operations over any national park or abutting tribal lands, all existing air tour operators were required to submit an application to the FAA for operating authority by January 23, 2003. Existing operators who complied with all applicable federal requirements would be granted interim operating authority to continue air tour operations while developing their individual ATMPs. New entrant operators had to apply for and be granted operating authority before commencing air tours over any national park or abutting tribal lands. (See March 15, 2007.)
November 2002:A high-profile government report called for FAA to offer incentives to airlines to introduce the onboard technology necessary to support a modernized air traffic management (ATM) system, and recommended changes to the modernization process itself. The final report of the Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry said airline reluctance to equip their fleets with new technology could hinder ATM modernization. It said mandatory rules and operational benefits were insufficient to motivate the aggressive operator investments needed for system-wide improvements. Onboard technology should be regarded as part of national aviation infrastructure, and therefore federally funded, the report said.
Sunday, December 8, 2002:FAA issued an interim final rule requiring inspections and records reviews for most aircraft that had been in scheduled commercial service for 14 years or more. The rule, effective one year from this date, mandated that operators could not keep an airplane in service more than four years from the effective date unless the maintenance program for the aircraft included damage-tolerance-based inspections and procedures for certain parts. The rule affected operators of multi-engine airplanes in scheduled operations under Parts 121, 135, and 129 of the federal aviation regulations, as well as type certificate holders (for example, aircraft manufacturers). The rule did not apply to airplanes operated within the state of Alaska.
Sunday, December 8, 2002:FAA commissioned a new air traffic control tower at Miami International Airport. The tower could withstand 150-mile-per-hour winds generated by hurricanes. At 333 feet, the Miami tower was the second-tallest in the U.S. after Orlando International’s 345-foot tower.
Saturday, December 14, 2002:The new Potomac Consolidated TRACON began operations. The new state-of-the- art facility in Fauquier County, Virginia, consolidated five existing TRACONs and allowed the FAA to redesign the airspace in this area for more efficient, direct flight routings. (See March 6, 2000.)
Tuesday, December 31, 2002:FAA signed an industry-championed change, eight years in the making, adding Required Navigation Performance (RNP) instrument approach procedures to the rolls of the terminal instrument procedures document and other publications. In about one year from the nondescript event, operators would be permitted to begin flying scaled-downed versions of the futuristic RNP instrument approaches used by Alaska Airlines in remote locations. The RNP rating system defined an aircraft’s ability to know its own position in terms of nautical miles. The lower the aircraft’s RNP number, the more airspace access – particularly in new or reduced minimums approaches – would be available to it. The role of FAA in the new regime would be to set the required accuracy levels and criteria for routes or procedures, after which users could decide if the rewards of participating were worth the effort of their participation. (See October 8, 2002; July 25, 2003.)
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.