Tuesday, January 30, 2007:In a luncheon speech at the National Press Club, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey proposed a rule change that would allow pilots to fly until they were 65 years of age. Under the proposal, if one pilot on a flight were older than 60, the other pilot in the cockpit would have to be younger than 60. This would be a change from the mandatory retirement age of 60, which had been in effect since 1960. Before this change could become official, FAA would have to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking and ask for public comment. The agency cautioned it could take years to pass new regulations. December 11, 2007: the House of Representatives approved a bill to let pilots fly until they reached the age of 65 provided they took medical tests twice a year. It also mandated that airlines must perform additional proficiency checks on pilots over 60. December 12, the Senate passed a similar bill allowing pilots to fly until age 65. The new law would take effect immediately if signed by President George W. Bush. (See December 13, 2007.)
Wednesday, February 14, 2007:FAA unveiled a proposal to finance its operations and air traffic control modernization through a complex system of user fees and fuel taxes, plus new authority to issue bonds. The proposal was included in a draft FAA reauthorization bill containing financial provisions would last for ten years and other provisions with a three year life. In October 2008, after the first year of the reauthorization, the FAA would drop the current taxes and fees that provided revenue to the aviation trust fund – mainly a 7.5 percent excise tax on airline tickets. In place of these revenue sources, the agency it would initiate user fees that would raise 53 percent of its total budget; retain and increase fuel taxes that, with reduced international passenger taxes, would provide an additional 28 percent; and rely on the general fund – derived from government-wide taxes and other revenues – for the remaining 19 percent of the budget. Under the proposal, as the airline’s share of revenues decreased, aviation’s total business share, derived from fees paid by corporate operators, would grow. Additionally, general aviation would pay a higher fuel tax – raised from 20 cents to about 70 cents per gallon.
Thursday, February 15, 2007:Effective this date, FAA established regulations governing the design, operation, and maintenance of certain airplanes that flew long-range, regularly scheduled commercial routes over remote areas. The rule changed the current limitations and opened routes for twin-engine passenger and cargo planes. It also set uniformly high standards for all commercial passenger planes flying routes more than three hours from an airport. The final rule codified FAA policy, industry best practices and recommendations, as well as international standards designed to ensure safety on longrange flights. To ease the transition for current operators, this rule delayed the compliance dates pertaining to certain requirements applicable to Extended Range Operation with Two-engine Airplanes, or ETOPS. (See November 10, 2003.)
Friday, February 23, 2007:Russ Chew, FAA Air Traffic Organization Chief Operating Officer resigned from the agency. Administrator Marion Blakey assigned COO responsibilities to deputy administrator Robert Sturgell as collateral duties. (See June 10, 2003; October 1, 2007.)
Wednesday, March 7, 2007:FAA released an updated plan to hire air traffic controllers over the next ten years. The plan provided a range of authorized controller staffing numbers for each of the FAA’s 314 staffed facilities across the country, giving the agency greater flexibility to match the number of controllers with traffic volume and workload. The agency had planned to hire and train more than 15,000 controllers over the next decade, and the updated plan called for hiring nearly 1,400 new controllers by year’s end. (See August 24, 2006.)
Thursday, March 15, 2007:Effective this date, FAA implemented a final rule setting safety and oversight rules for a broad variety of sightseeing and commercial air tour flights. The rule standardized requirements for air tour operators and consolidated air tour safety standards. It required operators, including some who were not previously covered, to meet the safety requirements in the expanded national air tour safety standards of the federal aviation regulations. These provision included requirements for enhanced passenger briefings before takeoff, life preservers and helicopter floats for certain over water operations, and the submission of helicopter performance plans. The rules also applied to the growing air tour industry offering tours of national parks. (See November 27, 2002.)
Friday, March 23, 2007:FAA dedicated its newest air traffic control facility in Guam. With oversight responsibility for nearly 200,000 square miles of airspace in the South Pacific, the new Guam Center would consolidate a number of air traffic functions in a single location. It would house en route and terminal radar air traffic control, a new air traffic control tower for the local international airport, and a technical operations division.
March 2007:FAA selected Naverus Inc., as the first FAA-approved Required Navigation Performance (RNP) consultant to help airlines qualify to fly RNP procedures in the U.S. Intending to accelerate the transition from ground-based to satellite-based navigation, the agency had decided to allow third parties to become involved. Broadening the use of RNP would allow minimums to be lower than otherwise possible during instrument approaches and would eventually allow reduced separation of aircraft. Naverus would advise airlines on how to qualify to fly RNP procedures, as outlined in FAA Advisory Circular 90-101. (See July 2006.)
Monday, April 2, 2007:Runway 7R/25L opened at Los Angeles International Airport.
Tuesday, April 3, 2007:FAA announced completion of Advanced Technologies and Oceanic Procedures (ATOP) deployment with the installation at the Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center. ATOP was already deployed at FAA centers in Ronkonkoma, New York, and Oakland, California, providing air traffic service over the Atlantic and Pacific regions respectively. This technology enabled controllers to separate aircraft in areas outside radar coverage or direct radio communication, such as over oceans. It also detected conflicts between aircraft and provided satellite data link communication and position information to air traffic controllers. (See June 23, 2005.)
Friday, April 6, 2007:FAA released new guidelines allowing developers to obtain one-year experimental launch permits for reusable spacecraft. These provisions would give businesses the opportunity to fly and test their vehicles before applying for a FAA launch license. A permit would cover multiple vehicles of a particular design and could be used for an unlimited number of launches. Applicants would have to provide FAA a program description, a flight test plan, operational safety documentation (including a hazard analysis), and a plan for responding to any mishap. None of the flights covered by an experimental permit could be flown for profit, and the permits could be renewed following a favorable FAA review. The agency would determine what kind of design changes could be made to a vehicle before its permit would be invalidated. (See December 15, 2006.)
Wednesday, April 11, 2007:FAA dedicated the new $90 million, 324-foot tall air traffic control tower at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport. The new tower featured state-of-the-art equipment and design. At 850 square feet, it was twice as tall as the old Phoenix Tower, built in 1977, and could accommodate 11 controllers in a cab three times the size of the previous one. The new TRACON section of the structure, with work stations for 22 controllers, replaced a 50-year old leased building that had accommodated only 13 controllers.
Thursday, April 26, 2007:FAA proposed new standards to ensure timely activation of airframe ice protection systems on Part 25 aircraft. The proposal would require manufacturers to provide a means to alert the flight crew when an ice protection system should be activated. The proposal stipulated three options for hazard detection and activation of the ice protection system: supplying a primary ice detection system that would activate automatically to alert the flightcrew of realized danger; supplying visual cues that, together with an advisory ice detection system, would alert the flight crew of the first signs of ice accretion; or supplying technology that would identify external conditions conducive to icing and advise the flightcrew to be prepared to activate the protective system.
April 2007:FAA awarded a production certificate to Eclipse Aviation for the Eclipse 500, one of the first very light jets to be certified. (See July 27, 2006.)
April 2007:The precision runway monitoring system became operational at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. The system allowed controllers to land planes almost simultaneously on parallel runways, saving time and simplifying operations.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007:FAA and NASA formalized an educational partnership aimed at developing the next generation aviation and aerospace workforce.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007:FAA released the Future Airport Capacity Task (FACT) 2 report. The study identified six airports and four metropolitan areas in the national airspace system that, despite the effect of currently planned improvements, were likely to be capacity constrained by 2015 and 2025. It recommended airport planning and development to increase the capacity of the system to meet these anticipated future aviation demands.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007:FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and her counterparts from Canada and Mexico signed a formal agreement establishing a cooperative NextGen strategy group. The agreement encouraged all three countries to share information regarding strategic roadmaps, technologies, and environmental metrics, as well as to coordinate harmonization efforts between North America and the International Civil Aviation Organization. (See July 18, 2006; June 13, 2007.)
Wednesday, May 23, 2007:FAA announced its annual Spring/Summer Plan, called the airspace flow program. The program gave airlines the option of either accepting delays for scheduled flights that would have to fly through storms or flying longer routes to maneuver around adverse conditions. The agency successfully launched the program in 2006 at seven locations in the Northeast. On bad weather days at major airports in the region, delays fell by nine percent compared to the year before. The 2007 plan targeted 18 locations around the country where heavy traffic and weather created the most system delays.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007:FAA announced deployment of adaptive compression, a new software program that would help to ensure that airports affected by bad weather would receive as many flights as could safely fly to them. When storms caused flights to be delayed or canceled, the software program would fill automatically vacant arrival slots with the next available flight. Deployed in March, the software tool effectively reduced delays to save time and money for airlines and passengers.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007:FAA published a final rule in the Federal Register modifying Part 158. The change added debt service and air carrier bankruptcy requirements and other miscellaneous changes mandated by the Vision 100 – Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act.
Thursday, May 24, 2007:FAA and the National Association of Government Employees Local signed a contract covering over 200 air traffic assistants who provided support for air traffic operations in terminal and en route facilities.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007:FAA announced release of the “NextGen Concept of Operation,” a document which laid out the blueprint for the development and execution of the NextGen system. (See May 16, 2007; June 2007; September 26, 2007.)
Friday, June 22, 2007:Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, and Minister Praful Patel from the Ministry of Civil Aviation in India signed a memorandum of agreement that established the U.S.-India Aviation Cooperation Program, a U.S. government and industry initiative to promote aviation relations and cooperation with Indian counterparts. (See April 6, 2004.)
June 2007:FAA published the first version of its expanded Operational Evolution Partnership (OEP), which laid out the agency’s path to NextGen through 2025. The OEP, launched in 2001 to improve capacity, was extended in duration as well as broadened in scope to include FAA’s NextGen-related activities. (See June 7, 2001; June 13, 2007.)
Wednesday, July 18, 2007:FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) signed the NATCA multi-unit agreement covering approximately 1,200 engineers and architects responsible for the planning, design, and installation of facilities, systems and equipment. Negotiations took place over the course of nine months before the agreement was overwhelmingly ratified by the union membership. This development was expected to help ensure the continuing safety of the national airspace system. (See July 10, 2005.)
Thursday, July 26, 2007:FAA announced it was modifying the restricted airspace over the National Capital Region to make it safer, more secure, and easier for pilots to navigate. The new, circular 30-nautical-mile-radius restricted area eliminated the “mouse ears” shape of the previous air defense identification zone and allowed pilots to use a single navigational aid instead of four. The change, which went into effect on August 30, 2007, freed 33 airports and helipads from difficult restrictions affecting approximately 1,800 square miles of airspace. (See February 10, 2003.)
Monday, August 6, 2007:Effective this date, FAA amended its regulations to reflect technological advances supporting Area Navigation, or RNAV. The new provisions updated the use of suitable RNAV systems for navigation and made them more consistent with those of the International Civil Aviation Organization. The regulations also removed all reference to the middle marker, a previously required component of instrument landing systems, and clarified airspace terminology. (See July 2006.)
Wednesday, August 8, 2007:FAA announced an airport surface detection equipment program known as ASDE-X had begun an operational suitability demonstration at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. ASDE-X used ground surveillance data collected from a variety of sources, including traditional radar, the Automatic Dependent Surveillance — Broadcast system, and aircraft transponders. Controllers in the tower saw the information presented as a color display of aircraft and vehicle positions overlaid on a map of the airport’s runways, taxiways, and approach corridors. The system continuously updated a map of all airport surface operations that controllers could use to spot potential collisions. The FAA planned to commission the system in about a month. ASDE-X was first tested by the FAA in June 2003 at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The system was declared ready for national deployment several months later. (See February 29, 2004; December 5, 2007.)
Wednesday, August 15, 2007:FAA Administrator Marion Blakey assembled a meeting of over 40 aviation leaders to brainstorm short-term remedies for reducing runway incursions. The one-day meeting involved senior FAA officials and industry executives. Blakey asked the meeting participants to consider solutions in four areas: cockpit procedures, airport signage and markings, air traffic procedures, and technology. The aviation community agreed to a five point short-term plan:
- Within 60 days, teams of FAA, airport operators, and airlines would begin safety reviews at the airports where wrong runway departures and runway incursions were the greatest concern.
- Within 60 days, disseminate information and training across the entire aviation industry.
- Within 60 days, accelerate the deployment of improved airport signage and markings at the top 75 airports, well ahead of the June 2008 mandated deadline.
- Within 60 days, review cockpit procedures and air traffic control clearance procedures.
- Implement a voluntary self-reporting system for all air traffic organization safety personnel, such as air traffic controllers and technicians.
- By focusing new procedures and technology on mid- to long-term goals, maximize situational awareness, minimize pilot distractions, and eliminate runway incursions.
- (See June 24, 2008.)
Thursday, August 30, 2007:FAA selected ITT Corporation as the prime contractor for the Automatic Dependent Surveillance — Broadcast (ADS-B) system. Under the terms of the approximately $1.8 billion contract, ITT would build the ADS-B ground stations and would own and operate the equipment. FAA would pay subscription charges to ITT for the transmission of ADS-B broadcasts to suitably equipped aircraft and air traffic control facilities. Along with air traffic displays, ADS-B would provide pilots graphical weather information, terrain maps, and flight information that would include temporary flight restrictions and notices to airmen. The system would alert controllers and pilots alike to the precise location of aircraft, enabling them to negotiate more direct flight routes that would enhance airspace efficiency, reduce delays, and – most importantly – improve safety. (See July 1, 2002; October 2, 2007.)
August 2007:The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) issued its rulings on three unfair labor practice complaints filed by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) in April, July, and September 2006. The charges related to the negotiation and implementation of the contract. FLRA concluded that there was no merit to NATCA’s claims, FAA had bargained in good faith, and the agency’s implementation of the contract was lawful. (See April 3, 2006; December 2007.)
Tuesday, September 4, 2007:FAA approved collection of almost $1.3 billion of Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) revenue at Chicago O’Hare International Airport to finance various projects, including new runways and a runway extension associated with the O’Hare Modernization Program at Chicago, Illinois.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007:FAA issued a final decision for redesigning the New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia metropolitan area airspace as part of efforts to reduce delays, fuel consumption, aircraft emissions, and noise. FAA held more than 120 public meetings in five states to complete the environmental planning process. The airspace redesign involved a 31,000-square-mile area over New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Connecticut with a population of 29 million residents. Twenty-one airports were included in the study.
Thursday, September 13, 2007:Marion Blakey left FAA after serving her five-year term. Robert Sturgell became acting administrator. (See September 13, 2002; September 24, 2007; October 23, 2007; February 7,2008.)
Tuesday, September 18, 2007:FAA dedicated the new air traffic control tower at Washington Dulles International Airport. The new facility, which had become operational about two months before, supplanted a tower that had been in service since the airport opened in 1962.
Thursday, September 20, 2007:FAA told airlines it planned to impose a new “level 2” international designation on New York’s Kennedy and Newark airports – a classification that would require carriers to supply their summer schedules by October 11. This earlier deadline would apply to flights coming to the area between March 9 and November 1, although FAA would accept schedules that coincided with the International Air Transport Association scheduling season of March 30 through October 25. Level 2 airports were defined by IATA as facilities “where there is considerable potential for congestion at some periods . . . which is amenable to resolution by voluntary cooperation between airlines.” New York’s LaGuardia and Chicago O’Hare were the only U.S. airports designated as level 3.
Monday, September 24, 2007:Ruth Leverenz, FAA assistant administrator for centers and regions, became acting deputy administrator. (See September 13, 2007.)
Wednesday, September 26, 2007:House aviation subcommittee Chairman Jerry Costello (D-IL) accused FAA of not acting aggressively enough to prevent airline over scheduling, and suggested the focus by the agency and airlines on the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) air traffic control system was a red herring. The chairman said he was pleased, however, FAA asked airlines to supply their summer schedules in advance for New York Newark and Kennedy airports. (See June 13, 2007; March 10, 2008.)
Sunday, September 30, 2007:FAA announced it had accepted early delivery of a crucial en route air traffic control system from manufacturer Lockheed Martin. The En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) system had passed all FAA requirement tests. The next phase of operational testing would be primarily conducted by FAA at the William J. Hughes Technical Center. FAA stressed the government acceptance milestone was achieved within budget and ahead of time. ERAM would replace the current host system at the 20 air route traffic control centers. (See June 30, 2003.)
Monday, October 1, 2007:Henry P. Krakowski became the FAA ATO COO, replacing Russ Chew who left the agency in February. Krakowski came to the FAA from a 29-year career at United Airlines. (See February 23, 2007.)
Tuesday, October 2, 2007:FAA proposed an initial set of aircraft avionics requirements designed to enable the transition to the next generation satellite-based air transportation system. The proposal would require all aircraft flying in the nation’s busiest airspace to have satellite-based avionics by 2020 so air traffic controllers could use the satellite-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance — Broadcast (ADS-B) system to track them. Aircraft not flying in controlled airspace would not be required to have ADS-B avionics. The proposed rule was open to public comment for 90 days, and was scheduled to become final by late 2009. The proposed compliance date of 2020 would give the industry more than ten years to equip aircraft with ADS-B avionics. (See August 30, 2007; March 10, 2008; May 27, 2010.)
Friday, October 19, 2007:FAA announced the expansion of Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) coverage into Canada and Mexico, increasing capacity at thousands of general aviation airports across the North American continent. WAAS had already improved the accuracy and integrity of Global Positioning System satellite signals, and provided highly precise approaches that could be used regardless of the weather. Nine new international wide-area reference stations were brought online under the expansion. The Canadian locations included Goose Bay, Gander, Winnipeg, and Iqaluit. The Mexican locations included Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Merida, Tapachula, and San Jose del Cabo. Cooperation on the expansion project was carried out with Canadian and Mexican aviation authorities under the auspices of the North American Aviation Trilateral Agreement. (See March 24, 2006.)
Tuesday, October 23, 2007:The White House announced its intention to nominate Robert Sturgell for a five-year term as FAA Administrator. (See September 13, 2007.)
Thursday, October 25, 2007:FAA announced that 23 schools were now participating in the agency’s air traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) program, part of a broader effort by the agency to recruit, train, and hire controllers. CTI schools were accredited to offer a non-engineering aviation degree in aviation programs. To the original 14 CTI institutions, FAA added nine schools: Arizona State University; Community College of Baltimore County (Maryland); Florida Community College-Jacksonville; Green River Community College (Washington); Lewis University (Illinois); Kent State University (Ohio); the Metropolitan State College of Denver (Colorado); Middle Georgia College, and the University of Oklahoma. These nine schools joined fourteen others that renewed their commitment to the program, which was first established in 1990 at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.
Thursday, November 8, 2007:FAA issued a final rule amending regulations for the certification and operation of transport category airplanes to mitigate conditions that put airlines at risk for wire failures, smoke and fire. The new rule enhances the safety requirements for design, installation and maintenance of electrical wiring in new and existing airplane designs, including the following:
- new maintenance, inspection, and design criteria for airplane wiring to address conditions that put transport airplanes at risk of wire failures, smoke and fire;
- requirements for those aerospace manufacturers holding type certificates, which indicate airworthiness, to analyze the zones of their airplanes for the presence of wire and for the likely accumulation of contaminant materials before 2010;
- requirements for those aerospace manufacturers holding type certificates to develop maintenance and inspection tasks to identify, correct, and prevent wiring conditions that introduce risks to continued safe flight, and that these tasks are included in new Instructions for Continued Airworthiness for wiring and compatible with Instructions for Continued Airworthiness for fuel tank systems while avoiding duplication or redundancy, by 2010; and
- requirements for operators of transport-category airplanes to incorporate maintenance and inspection tasks for wiring into their regular maintenance programs before 2012.