FAA History: 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009:FAA certified Embraer’s largest executive jet, the Lineage 1000. The aircraft won type certification in December 2008 from Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency as well as the European Aviation Safety Agency.
Monday, January 12, 2009:FAA issued instructions (Notice 8900.63) to agency inspectors with oversight of HEMS operators to find out how many operators had adopted FAA recommended best practices. With reports in from all 74 operators surveyed, the percentages that had adopted various programs were:
  • Decision-making skills and risk assessment programs – 94 percent
  • Response to FAA guidance on Loss of Control (LOC) and Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) avoidance – 89 percent
  • Integration of operation control center – 89 percent
  • Installation of Flight Data Recorders and devices that can re-create a flight. – 11 percent
  • TAWS equipage – 41 percent
  • Use of radar altimeters – 89 percent
  • (See November 14, 2008; October 12, 2010.)
Thursday, January 15, 2009:United Airlines Flight 1549 struck a flock of birds after departing New York LaGuardia Airport en route to Charlotte, NC. Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger successfully ditched the aircraft into the Hudson River. All onboard survived.
Thursday, January 15, 2009:FAA awarded Thales ATM a contract to install and test a low-cost ($500,000 or less) ground surveillance system that the agency planned for small- and medium-size airports. Kansas-based Thales ATM was among several companies that submitted proposals in response to FAA’s August 2007 Call to Action to reduce risk of runway incursions. The low-cost system was radar-based and would provide surface movement information to controllers, who in turn would advise flight crews of potential collisions. (See January 24, 2008; July 1, 2009.)
Friday, January 16, 2009:Acting Administrator Robert Sturgell resigned with the change in presidential administrations. Lynne Osmus, acting deputy administrator, became the acting administrator. (See February 7, 2008; March 27, 2009.)
Tuesday, January 20, 2009:Barrack Obama became the 44th President of the United States.
Friday, January 23, 2009:Ray H. LaHood became the 16th U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
Monday, January 26, 2009: Following up on an executive order signed on November 18, 2008, the Department of Transportation named Karlin Toner, Ph.D., as the chief multiagency liaison for the NextGen air traffic control modernization effort. Toner would serve as the senior staff adviser to the transportation secretary regarding NextGen and would be the senior liaison between the Department and the different agencies involved in the Joint Planning and Development Office. Toner was detailed to the secretary’s office from FAA, where she recently had been selected to head the human factors research and engineering group. Toner had 15 years of experience at NASA. She served as NASA’s director of airspace systems programs from August 2006 to December 2008 and had held several other NASA positions in aerospace and aeronautical planning and research. (See November 18, 2008; see February 26, 2010.)
Friday, January 30, 2009:Delta signed a memorandum of understanding with the Air Line Pilots Association and FAA to reinstate its Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) for Delta pilots. Under the program, pilots could report safety concerns without repercussions. Delta said it had formal ASAP programs in place for its dispatchers and technical operations employees, and other safety reporting programs for flight attendants and ground employees. The airline also planned to continue ASAP programs currently covering pre-merger Northwest pilots, dispatchers, and load planners. (See January 14, 2000; September 22, 2010.)
Monday, February 2, 2009:FAA called for the establishment of a new industry-based task force charged with developing an industry consensus for the midterm goals of the NextGen system. FAA asked the task force, the NextGen Mid-Term Implementation Task Force (TF5), carried out through RTCA, to complete its recommendations by August 2009. FAA charged the task force with:
  • identifying a specific set of operation capabilities that would be fully deployed and could deliver benefits by 2018;
  • determining steps necessary to reach the capabilities, including procedures, training, technical risk mitigation and policy changes;
  • recommending interim milestones;
  • suggesting ways to accelerate operational benefits, including preferred means to accommodate “mixed-equipage” operations; and
  • providing strategies to ensure that the intended benefits are delivered and to encourage operators to equip their aircraft.
  • (See September 9, 2009.)
Tuesday, February 3, 2009:Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) delivered Continental Airlines’ first winglet-equipped Boeing 757-300. Continental became the first U.S. major airline to order blended winglets when it ordered the modification for both retrofit on 757-200 and for production line fit on 737 Next Generations in April 2004. FAA awarded APB a supplemental type certificate for the winglet upgrade on the 757-200 in May 2005, and APB officially launched the retrofit for the 757-300 in June 2008 when it won orders from Continental and German tour operator Condor.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009:FAA suspended Miami-based AAR Landing Gear Services’ repair station certificate because the company had not followed manufacturer maintenance manual procedures for conducting liquid penetrant exams, shot peening, and cadmium plating before returning to service a variety of airliner landing gear parts. The agency said AAR employed defective processes and followed defective inspection protocols. FAA had inspected the Miami facility in early July 2008, and on July 16 had issued a written notice of alleged discrepancies, to which AAR said it responded with corrective actions on July 29. On November 7, AAR and FAA representatives met to discuss the company’s responses and its corrective actions. On January 30, FAA sent the company a follow-up letter identifying items that required further attention. AAR said it was in the process of responding to that request when it received the suspension notice. AAR had until February 20 to appeal the Emergency Order of Suspension. (See February 17, 2009.)
Thursday, February 12, 2009:Colgan Air (Continental Connection) Flight 3407, on a scheduled passenger flight from Newark, NJ, crashed while on approach to the Buffalo/Niagara International Airport. The twin-engine turboprop had been cleared for the ILS approach to runway 23 in icy weather conditions when it disappeared from radar approximately 5 miles northeast of the airport. Soon after, it was reported that the aircraft had crashed into a residence and exploded in flames near the Buffalo suburb of Clarence Center. All 49 passengers onboard the aircraft and one person on the ground were killed. (See June 9, 2009.)
Tuesday, February 17, 2009:AAR Landing Gear Services and FAA entered into a consent order that terminated the agency’s February 10 emergency suspension of the company’s repair station certificate. As a result of the consent order, AAR Landing Gear’s certificate now was in a state of “voluntary surrender.” To get it back, the company had to adhere to a list of agreed upon stipulations, including revisions to its manuals and procedures, stepped up non-destructive testing of components, greater FAA oversight, and enhanced training for its staff. (See February 10, 2009.)
Monday, February 23, 2009:Seattle-Tacoma International Airport became the first U.S. facility to install and test avian radar. The risk of bird strikes to aircraft was highlighted on January. 15 when Canada geese caused a dual-engine failure on US Airways Flight 1549. The FAA-funded research project at the airport is a collaborative effort with the University of Illinois. Sea-Tac’s experimental avian radar, installed on top of the airport office building, was used to monitor bird movements in the vicinity of the airport. The project was aimed at determining how airport operators could use the technology as an early warning detection system against aircraft-bird collisions. (See January 15, 2009.)
Monday, March 2, 2009:FAA reached a settlement agreement with Southwest Airlines to resolve outstanding enforcement actions. Under the agreement, Southwest Airlines would pay a $7.5 million civil penalty that would double to $15 million if the airline did not accomplish specific safety improvements outlined in the agreement. The agreement stemmed from a $10.2 million civil penalty FAA proposed on March 6 against Southwest Airlines for operating 46 airplanes on 59,791 flights without performing mandatory inspections for fuselage fatigue cracking. (See March 6, 2008.)
Thursday, March 5, 2009:FAA announced it had no plans to ground Eclipse Aviation’s EA500 despite the company’s recent announcement it had entered Chapter 7 liquidation. With all Eclipse operations (including certification, production, service centers, training centers, and dealers) closed, FAA issued a special airworthiness information bulletin (SAIB) that requested owners and operators of the Eclipse Model EA500 aircraft to report all unsafe conditions that may exist on the aircraft to its Airplane Certification Office in Fort Worth, Texas. Owners and operators could still fly their aircraft as long as it was in an airworthy condition in accordance with 14 CFR Part 91.
aiR-Note:How severely was safety ‘eclipsed’ in FAA’s handling of this specific aircraft, from design certification, through manufacture and the eventual handling of the bankruptcy? Some FAA Whistleblowers believe that Eclipse was one of the true lowest points in FAA’s history.
Monday, March 9, 2009:FAA announced it had convened a new Aviation Rulemaking Committee to develop recommendations for comprehensive Safety Management System (SMS) rulemaking. The ARC initially comprised 12 people from across the aviation industry, but membership was expected to grow as working groups formed to delve into the application of SMS to the various industry sectors. FAA planned to release an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking later in the year that would provide a starting point for the SMS rule. The ARC had a three-year charter. (See October 7, 2010.)
Wednesday, March 11, 2009:The President signed Public Law 111–8, Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009. That legislation provided several departments within the executive branch, including the Department of Transportation, with the funds to operate until the end of the fiscal year. The law contained a provision that prohibited the Secretary of Transportation from promulgating regulations or taking any action regarding the scheduling of airline operations that involved auctioning rights, permission to conduct airline operations at such an airport, or withdrawing a right or permission to conduct operations at such an airport (except when the withdrawal was for operational reasons or pursuant to the terms or conditions of such operating right or permission). The prohibition was limited to the fiscal year. (See December 22, 2008; May 14, 2009.)
Friday, March 27, 2009:The White House announced its intention to nominate J. Randolph Babbitt for FAA administrator. The President nominated Babbitt on May 11 and the Senate confirmed him on May 21, 2009. He was sworn in as FAA’s sixteenth administrator on June 1, 2009. Babbitt came to FAA from Oliver Wyman, an international management consulting firm where he served as partner. A veteran pilot, Babbitt had been a member of the agency’s Management Advisory Council since 2001. He was the founding partner of Eclat Consulting in 2001, and served as President and CEO until Oliver Wyman acquired Eclat in 2007. Babbitt began his aviation career as a pilot, flying 25 years for Eastern Airlines. A skilled negotiator, he served as President and CEO for the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). Lynne Osmus, who had served as acting administrator, became the acting deputy administrator. (See January 16, 2009; December 4, 2009.)
Monday, April 27, 2009:FAA announced a bilateral aviation safety agreement between the United States and Japan that allowed for the reciprocal certification of aircraft and aviation products. (See November 2007.)
Thursday, May 14, 2009:FAA proposed to rescind the October 10, 2008, final rules regarding slots at three New York airports citing the impact of the Omnibus Appropriations Act on the rule and the state of the economy in general. The comment period closed June 15, 2009. FAA received five sets of comments, all of which supported rescission of the rule. (October 9, 2009, FAA rescinded the final rules. (See March 11, 2009; June 17, 2009.)
Monday, May 18, 2009:Mediation aimed at ending an ongoing contract dispute between FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) began. Both parties signed a process agreement to move the negotiations forward. The agreement provided for extensive mediation sessions and for binding resolution of any unresolved issues, guaranteeing a new collective bargaining agreement between the parties. Jane Garvey, former FAA administrator, led the mediation as part of a three-member panel that also included Richard Bloch and George Cohen. (See December 2007; August 13, 2009.)
Tuesday, June 9, 2009:Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt announced they had ordered FAA inspectors to immediately focus attention on training programs to ensure that regional airlines were complying with federal regulations. Secretary LaHood and Administrator Babbitt also announced plans to gather representatives from the major air carriers, their regional partners, aviation industry groups, and labor in Washington, DC, on June 15 to participate in a “call to action” to improve airline safety and pilot training. (See February 12, 2009; June 15, 2009.) [..reaction to Colgan..]
Thursday, June 11, 2009:FAA announced the runway status light system was operational at Los Angeles International Airport. The system used a series of red lights embedded in the pavement to warn pilots if it was unsafe to enter or cross a runway, or to take off. Los Angeles World Airports paid for the $7 million system and FAA installed the system and would maintain it. The runway status light system was connected to the airport’s ground radar system. The lights turn red if the ground radar detected a potential conflict between two aircraft or an aircraft and a vehicle. Los Angeles was the third U.S. airport to get runway status lights following several years of successful tests at Dallas-Fort Worth and San Diego. It was the first airport to have the lights installed on multiple runways. (See October 16, 2008.)
Monday, June 15, 2009:Senior officials from U.S. airlines, pilot unions, and FAA agreed on several major actions to improve safety programs and pilot training. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt hosted the “Call to Action” to identify immediate steps to strengthen and improve pilot hiring, training, and testing practices at airlines that provided regional service as well as at the country’s major air carriers. The participants agreed on best practices for pilot record checks that would result in a more expansive search for all records available from a pilot’s career. The airlines and unions would also review existing pilot training programs over the next several months to see how they could be strengthened. Airline and union officials recommended developing pilot mentoring programs that would expose less experienced pilots to the safety culture and professional standards practiced by more senior pilots. The programs could pair experienced pilots from the major airlines with pilots from their regional airline partners. To address concerns about pilot fatigue, Babbitt said FAA would start the rulemaking process to rewrite the rules for pilot flight and duty time to incorporate recent scientific research about the factors that lead to fatigue. Babbitt also asked airlines to operate safety reporting systems, such as Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) and the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP), to provide better data about safety issues. In addition, FAA and industry representatives agreed to hold as many as 10 similar meetings throughout the country to assure that every carrier and pilot union had the opportunity to commit to these actions and to identify and share best practices. (See December 14, 1995; November 23, 2009.)
Wednesday, June 17, 2009:FAA published a proposal to extend an earlier order limiting operations at New York’s LaGuardia Airport to 71 scheduled operations and three unscheduled operations per hour from October 2009 to October 2010. This would allow the agency to consider options with regard to managing congestion at the airport on a longer-term basis. Options under consideration would provide a means for carriers to either commence or expand operations at the airport, thereby introducing more competition and service options to benefit the traveling public. (See May 14, 2009.)
Thursday, June 18, 2009:Controllers at the Salt Lake City Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) were the first to control operational traffic with the new the En Route Automation Modernization System (ERAM) . The goal of the operational test was to place ERAM in limited use during a period of low air traffic activity and record how the technology worked in an operational environment. ERAM, which will replace the HOST system, processed flight surveillance data, provided communications, and generated display information to air traffic controllers. It also supplied crucial flight plan information to terminal radar and control tower facilities. When fully operational at the ARTCC, the new technology will provide additional capabilities, such as the ability to process data from 64 radars instead of the current 24. (See September 30, 2007.)
Wednesday, July 1, 2009:FAA awarded Northrop Grumman Corp. a contract for the first U.S. installation of low-cost ground surveillance (LCGS) systems designed to help manage airport surface traffic. The contract was for an initial LCGS system at the Reno, NV, airport and included options for additional airports. (See January 15, 2009; December 1-3, 2009.)
Monday, August 3, 2009:FAA announced new certification standards for transport category airplanes. Under the certification standards, new transport aircraft designs had to use one of three methods to detect icing and to activate the airframe ice protection system:
  • An ice detection system that automatically activated or alerted pilots to turn on the ice protection system;
  • A definition of visual signs of ice buildup on a specified surface (e.g., wings) combined with an advisory system that alerted the pilots to activate the ice protection system; or
  • Identification of temperature and moisture conditions conducive to airframe icing that would tip off pilots to activate the ice protection system.
  • The standards further required that after initial activation, the ice protection system must operate continuously, automatically turn on and off, or alert the pilots when the system should be cycled. (See April 26, 2007.)
Saturday, August 8, 2009:Nine people died when a sightseeing helicopter collided with a small plane near New York City. The single-engine Piper had taken off from Teterboro Airport in NJ, and the helicopter, operated by Liberty Helicopter, had taken off from West 30th Street in Manhattan. Wreckage from both aircraft landed in the Hudson River. (See August 14, 2009.)
Tuesday, August 11, 2009:Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced he had asked the Department’s General Counsel to look into whether Continental Airlines or its regional partner, Express Jet Airlines, had violated any laws in connection with the lengthy tarmac delay on their Houston-Minneapolis flight on August 8 during which passengers were stuck in a small plane for seven hours. August 21, 2009, Secretary LaHood announced the Department had concluded the preliminary phase of its investigation and had determined that the Express Jet crew was not at fault. While the crew of the ExpressJet flight did all it could to assist the passengers, more senior personnel within Continental or ExpressJet should have become involved in an effort to obtain permission to take the passengers off the plane. The representative of Mesaba – the only carrier able to assist Continental at the airport – had said at the time of the incident that the airport was closed to passengers, apparently because there was no one from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) available to screen passengers. In fact, TSA procedures allowed passengers to get off the plane, enter the terminal and reboard without being screened again as long as they remained in a sterile area. LaHood said the Department was considering the appropriate actions to take as it completed the investigation, which it expected to conclude within a few weeks. The Department would use the findings from this investigation to formulate a final rule that would provide better protection for airline passengers. (See November 24, 2009; April 29, 2010.)
Thursday, August 13, 2009:FAA announced that mediation with NATCA had resulted in a draft labor agreement. NATCA members had 45 days to ratify the many agreed-upon issues in the proposed agreement. The five issues decided by arbitrators, including compensation, were not subject to ratification by members. The agreement provided employees with greater flexibility in their work schedules, childcare support, a new grievance review process, and a variety of other gains. At the same time, it gave FAA flexibility to more effectively redeploy labor to congested airports using controller incentive pay. The agreement also restored a more equitable pay standard, to benefit new hires as well as veterans nearing retirement. The associated costs would be phased in over the three years of the contract. (See May 18, 2009.)
Friday, August 14, 2009:FAA convened a New York Airspace Working Group to review current operating procedures over the Hudson and East Rivers and recommend safety improvements within two weeks. August 28, the working group made a number of recommendations to FAA. One of the most significant recommendations suggested dividing the airspace into altitude corridors that separated aircraft flying over the river from those operating to and from local heliports or seaplane bases. This new exclusionary zone would be comprised of three components:
  • It would establish a uniform “floor” for the Class B airspace over the Hudson River at 1,300 feet, which would also serve as the “ceiling” for the exclusionary zone.
  • Between 1,300-2,000 feet, it would require aircraft to operate in the Class B airspace under visual flight rules under positive air traffic control, and to communicate on the appropriate air traffic frequency.
  • Between 1,000-1,300 feet, it would require aircraft using VFR to use a common radio frequency for the Hudson River. Aircraft operating below 1,000 feet would use the same radio frequency.
  • In addition, new pilot operating practices would require pilots to use specific radio frequencies for the Hudson River and the East River, would set speeds at 140 knots or less, and would require pilots to turn on anti-collision devices, position or navigation equipment and landing lights. Existing common practices that took pilots along the west shore of the river when they were southbound and along the east shore when they were northbound would become mandatory. In addition, pilots would be required to have charts available and to be familiar with the airspace rules. September 2, 2009, FAA announced it would modify the airspace over the Hudson River by revising procedures to create safe, dedicated operating corridors for all the aircraft that fly at lower altitudes around Manhattan. It also would propose standardized procedures for fixed-wing aircraft leaving Teterboro to enter the Class B airspace over the Hudson River or the exclusionary zone. (See August 8, 2009; November 16, 2009.)
aiR-Note:The effect is to further compress helicopters downward to impact people on the ground. There is no element of this solution (yet) that is eliminating helicopter air tourism and other non-essential flying within a congested and dangerous airspace.
Monday, August 17, 2009:FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to update FAR Part 23 standards to accommodate new light and very light jets. The proposal would eliminate the exemptions, special conditions, and equivalent levels of safety findings the agency used to certify this class of aircraft under Part 23. The proposal would codify the current practice of certificating multiengine turbojets weighing up to and including 19,000 pounds.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009:The RTCA NextGen Mid-Term Implementation Task Force submitted its final report to FAA. The Task Force developed a short list of actionable operational capability recommendations in five problem areas (Surface, Runway Access, Metroplex, Cruise, Access to NAS) and two cross-cutting areas (Data Communication Applications and Integrated ATM). The Task Force also made four overarching recommendations that were considered essential to the implementation of any of the prior recommendations. (February 2, 2009; January 31, 2010).
aiR-Note:NextGen may really prove to be just a process for enabling airlines to sidestep decades-old rules and procedures intended to protect the Public from aviation environmental impacts.
Saturday, September 12, 2009: [A new wide-area multilateration surveillance system began operating at Colorado’s Yampa Valley-Hayden, Craig-Moffat, Steamboat Springs, and Garfield County Regional-Rifle airports. The system allowed air traffic controllers to track aircraft not covered by radar in remote, mountainous regions. FAA and the Colorado Department of Transportation shared the cost of the system. (See May 4, 2010.)
Thursday, September 17, 2009: As part of a strategy to reduce emerging aviation risks using national safety data, FAA’s Office of Aviation Safety established a new Accident Investigation and Prevention Service that integrated the work of the Offices of Accident Investigation and Safety Analytical Services. The new organization consolidated resources so FAA could better understand current and emerging risks across the aviation community through the use of data from accident and incident investigations, historical accidents and incidents, and voluntarily submitted information from industry programs, such as Aviation Safety Action and Flight Operational Quality Assurance programs. FAA also announced the creation of a new Office of Audit and Evaluation. The office, which reported to the FAA Chief Counsel, consolidated into one organization:
  • Administrator’s Hotline — gave FAA employees a way to get high-level management attention for concerns unresolved by established procedures.
  • Aviation Safety Hotline — provided an outlet for anyone to express concerns about unsafe aviation situations without fear of reprisal.
  • Public Inquiry Hotline — responded to and referred inquiries from the public about aviation matters.
  • Whistleblower Protection Hotline — coordinated with the Department of Labor on safety disclosures made by private-sector aviation workers, including government contractors.
  • Safety Issues Reporting System — established in April 2008, allowed Office of Aviation Safety employees to report safety issues they believed had not been addressed by other FAA processes.
  • (See June 21, 2010.)
Monday, September 21, 2009:FAA announced approval of Honeywell’s Smartpath Precision Landing System, which provided precise navigation service based on the global positioning system (GPS). The first U.S.-approved system would be located in Memphis, TN, and would become operational in early 2010. The ground-base system (GBAS) augmented GPS to provide precision approach guidance to all qualifying runways at an airport. It monitored the GPS signals to detect errors and augment accuracy by transmitting correction messages to aircraft via local radio broadcast. GBAS would initially supplement the legacy Instrument Landing Systems used at airports. FAA’s NextGen Implementation Plan had identified GBAS as an enabler for descent and approach operations to increase capacity at crowded airports. The Honeywell system was approved for precision approach operations down to 200 feet above the surface. (See December 8, 2008.)
Friday, October 16, 2009:FAA published new regulations for manufacturers of aircraft and aviation products that updated and standardized FAA requirements to better align them with the global manufacturing environment. The regulations, which would become effective on April 14, 2010, included:
  • Standardization of quality control system requirements for all aviation manufacturers.
  • Updated export requirements to facilitate global acceptance and documentation of parts.
  • Standardization of part marking and identification requirements so they aligned with other countries’ rules, and consolidation of the requirements into one regulation.
  • Updated and standardized language in the regulations for production approvals, exporting, and identification marking.
Monday, October 19, 2009:FAA officials helped break ground on the Aviation Research Technology Park located adjacent to the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, NJ. The Park will be a high-technology aviation facility that provides the opportunity for FAA partners to perform research, development, testing, integration and verification of new technologies for the Next Generation Air Transportation System. The seven-building, multi-million dollar project is expected to create more than 2,000 jobs.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009:FAA announced revocation of the licenses of two Northwest Airlines pilots who overflew their destination airport on October 21, 2009, while operating Flight 188 from San Diego to Minneapolis. Air traffic controllers and airline officials repeatedly tried to reach them through radio and data contact, without success. The emergency revocations cite violations of a number of Federal Aviation Regulations. Those included failing to comply with air traffic control instructions and clearances and operating carelessly and recklessly.
Monday, November 16, 2009:FAA finalized a rule, effective November 19, 2009, that separated low-altitude, local aircraft flights over the Hudson River from flights transiting through the river airspace. The rule required pilots to follow safety procedures that were previously recommended, but were not mandatory. In a new Special Flight Rules Area over the Hudson and East Rivers, pilots must:
  • Maintain a speed of 140 knots or less.
  • Turn on anti-collision and aircraft position/navigation lights, if equipped.
  • Self-announce their position on specific radio frequencies.
  • Carry current charts for the airspace and be familiar with them.
  • In an exclusion zone below 1,300 feet over the Hudson River, announce their aircraft type, position, direction, and altitude at charted mandatory reporting points and stay along the New Jersey shoreline when southbound and along the Manhattan shoreline when northbound.
  • When transiting the Hudson River, fly at an altitude between 1,000 feet and 1,300 feet and operate local flights in the lower airspace below 1,000 feet.
  • The rule also incorporated provisions of an October 2006 Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) that restricted fixed-wing aircraft in the exclusion zone over the East River to seaplanes landing or taking off on the river or those specifically approved by FAA air traffic control. (See August 14, 2009.)
Friday, November 20, 2009:FAA published a notice of proposed rulemaking proposing limits on airlines and other operators from hiring FAA safety inspectors and their managers for two years after those employees left the agency. The proposed rule would prohibit air carriers, flight schools, repair stations, and other certificated organizations from employing or contracting with former FAA inspectors and managers to represent them in agency matters if the former employee had any direct oversight of the certificate holder in the preceding two years. The rule would apply to anyone who owned or managed a fractional ownership program aircraft. The rule would not keep operators from hiring former inspectors to serve in other positions (e.g., aircraft dispatcher, flight attendant, maintenance technician, pilot, or training instructor) as long as they did not represent the operator in FAA matters. (See September 10, 2008; December 21, 2009.)
Monday, November 23, 2009:FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require scheduled airlines to either retrofit their existing fleet with ice-detection equipment or make sure the ice protection system activated at the proper time. For aircraft with an ice detection system, FAA proposed that the system alert the crew when they should activate the system. The system would either turn on automatically or pilots would manually activate it. For aircraft without ice-detection equipment, the crew would activate the protection system based on cues listed in their airplane’s flight manual during climb and descent, and at the first sign of icing when at cruising altitude. FAA estimated the rule would cost operators about $5.5 million to implement. Operators would have two years after the final rule was effective to make the changes. The proposed rule would apply only to in-service aircraft with a takeoff weight less than 60,000 pounds, because most larger airplanes already had equipment that met the requirements. (See April 26, 2007; December 1, 2009.)
Monday, November 23, 2009:FAA withdrew a previously published notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) designed to establish consistent and clear duty period limitations, flight time limitations, and rest requirements for domestic, flag, supplemental, commuter, and on-demand operations. In June 2009, FAA had chartered the Flight and Duty Time Limitations and Rest Requirements Aviation Rulemaking Committee, comprised of labor, industry, and FAA representatives, to develop recommendations for a rule based on current fatigue science and a thorough review of international approaches to the issue. (See June 15, 2009; August 1, 2010.)
Monday, November 23, 2009:FAA began using its automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) system in Louisville, marking the first time U.S. controllers used this technology for handling traffic on a continuous basis. (See November 24, 2008; January 12, 2010.)
Tuesday, November 24, 2009:The Department of Transportation levied a civil penalty of $100,000 against Continental Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines for their roles in causing the passengers on board Continental Express Flight 2816 to remain on the aircraft at Rochester International Airport for an unreasonable period of time (7 hours) on August 8, 2009. In addition, the Department assessed a civil penalty of $75,000 against Mesaba Airlines, which provided ground handling for the flight, for its role in the incident. (See August 11, 2009; April 29, 2010.)
Wednesday, November 25, 2009:Edward Stimpson, one of general aviation’s most respected advocates in Washington and founder of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), died at home in Boise, Idaho, from cancer. Stimpson was credited, along with former Cessna Chairman and CEO Russ Meyer, with championing the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994, which helped reinvigorate the industry by capping manufacturers’ product liability to 18 years. He went on to become chairman of the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF). Stimpson joined FAA at the invitation of then-Administrator Najeeb Halaby and served through much of the 1960s as its congressional liaison. He became head of GAMA shortly after it was founded in 1970 and he led the organization almost continuously for 25 years. President Bill Clinton later nominated Stimpson to represent the U.S. at the International Civil Aviation Organization. He served in that ambassadorial post from 1999-2004, ending his tenure at the United Nations agency as vice president of its Assembly.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009:FAA issued a final rule, effective February 1, 2010, that prohibited operations with polished frost on the wings and stabilizing and control surfaces of aircraft. Under the final rule, operators were required to remove any frost adhering to critical surfaces prior to takeoff. Additionally, the rule restructured language in parts 91, 125, and 135 to clarify that aircraft must have functioning deicing or anti-icing equipment to fly under IFR into known or forecast light or moderate icing conditions, or under VFR into known or forecast light or moderate icing conditions. (See November 23, 2009; June 29, 2010.)
aiR-Note:A review of ice-related accidents shows that FAA delayed for more than four decades before implementing this common sense rule. This seems like a profound example of FAA’s regulatory capture impeding timely safety actions. Follow the 42-year thread of fatal crashes, from the 3/12/67 takeoff accident at KLMT, through the 1/13/82 Air Florida takeoff crash at KDCA, to the 2/12/09 Colgan crash at KBUF.
December 1-3, 2009:FAA, in cooperation with the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and the MITRE Corporation, held its first International Runway Safety Conference in Washington, DC. Nearly 500 people attended the conference, which focused on ways to reduce and eventually eliminate runway incursions and excursions. (See January 24, 2008.)
Friday, December 4, 2009:FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt announced the retirement of acting deputy administrator, Lynne Osmus, effective January 3, 2009. Effective this day, Osmus returned to her permanent post as assistant administrator for security and hazardous materials and David Grizzle, FAA general counsel, became the acting deputy administrator. (See March 27, 2009; December 8, 2009.)
Tuesday, December 8, 2009:FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt called for the establishment of a group comprised of both FAA and non-agency members to assess the FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI) outage that caused widespread air traffic delays across the country. An FTI software configuration problem interrupted automated flight plan processing and other electronic traffic flow management tools for four hours on November 19, 2009. While critical safety systems and radar and communications services were unaffected, controllers and flight data communications specialists had to manually input data, which resulted in delays. The panel was tasked with producing two reports by early 2010: one focused on the outage with suggestions for any immediate changes to the FTI system and the other focused on the FTI architecture as it related to future FAA systems. Panel members included: U.S. Navy Vice Admiral (retired) Nancy Brown, former Joint Staff director of command, control, communications and computer systems; Amr ElSawy, President and CEO of Noblis, a nonprofit science, technology, and strategy organization; Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra; Department of Transportation Chief Information Officer (CIO) Nitin Pradhan; FAA CIO Dave Bowen; and FAA’s Air Traffic Control Organization CIO Steve Cooper. (See April 18, 2008; November 12, 2010.)
Tuesday, December 8, 2009:The White House nominated Michael Huerta to be FAA deputy administrator. The White House had announced its intention to nominate Huerta the day before. Huerta had his own consulting firm, which advised clients on transportation policy, technology, and financing. Until April 2009, Huerta was Group President of the Transportation Solutions Group of Affiliated Computer Services, Inc., a technology services provider supporting transportation agencies worldwide. Before joining ACS, he was a managing director with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic Winter Games of 2002. From 1993 to 1998, Huerta served in two senior positions at the Department of Transportation under President Bill Clinton. He also held senior positions in the cities of San Francisco and New York. Huerta has a master’s degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Riverside. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America and served as a member of President Obama’s transition team for the U.S. Department of Transportation. (See December 4, 2009; June 23, 2010.)
Wednesday, December 9, 2009:FAA announced a new service to provide the public information about airport delays. The Airport Status and Delays web service, registered on Data.gov, combined FAA information about ground delays, airport closures, ground stops, and arrival or departure delays with local weather data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Sunday, December 13, 2009:An American Airlines Boeing 737’s wingtips touched the ground during landing at Charlotte, NC, when the part of the plane’s landing gear veered off the runway while touching down in low visibility. On December 22, an American Airlines flight overshot the runway during heavy rain in Jamaica. The Boeing 737 broke into three sections; all passengers survived. On December 24 an American Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-80’s wingtip touched the ground while landing at Austin, Texas. On January 1, 2009, FAA issued a statement saying the Agency would conduct a review of the mishaps to determine if there was a larger issue with the airline.
Monday, December 14, 2009:FAA issued a type certificate for Embraer’s Phenom 300 light jet. Brazil certified the aircraft on December 3.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009: After over two years of delays, Boeing’s first new aircraft design in over 10 years, the 787 Dreamliner made its maiden flight.
Monday, December 21, 2009:The Department of Transportation announced new rules that prohibited U.S. airlines operating domestic flights from permitting an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without deplaning passengers, with exceptions allowed only for safety or security or if air traffic control advises the pilot in command that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations. U.S. carriers operating international flights departing from or arriving in the United States must specify, in advance, their own time limits for deplaning passengers, with the same exceptions applicable. Carriers were required to provide adequate food and potable drinking water for passengers within two hours of the aircraft being delayed on the tarmac and to maintain operable lavatories and, if necessary, provide medical attention. This rule was adopted in response to a series of incidents in which passengers were stranded on the ground aboard aircraft for lengthy periods and also in response to the high incidence of flight delays and other consumer problems. The rule also:
  • Prohibited airlines from scheduling chronically delayed flights, subjecting those who do to DOT enforcement action for unfair and deceptive practices;
  • Required airlines to designate an airline employee to monitor the effects of flight delays and cancellations, respond in a timely and substantive fashion to consumer complaints and provide information to consumers on where to file complaints;
  • Required airlines to display on their website flight delay information for each domestic flight they operate;
  • Required airlines to adopt customer service plans and audit their own compliance with their plans; and
  • Prohibited airlines from retroactively applying material changes to their contracts of carriage that could have a negative impact on consumers who already have purchased tickets. (See November 20, 2009.)
Friday, December 25, 2009:A passenger on Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit tried to explode a device and was subdued by passengers and crew. The flight landed safety at Detroit where the individual was arrested. On January 3, 2010, the Transportation Security Administration issued new security directives to all United States and international air carriers with inbound flights to the U.S. effective January 4, 2010.
Thursday, December 31, 2009:FAA granted Delta Air Lines permission to integrate fully its Northwest Airlines subsidiary’s planes and flight crews into its fleet. Authority to fly under a single operating certificate allowed the airlines to use common technical manuals and organizational structure. Delta acquired Northwest for $2.8 billion in October 2008. (See October 30, 2008.)
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.