Tuesday, January 1, 2013:The Senate confirmed Michael Huerta as the new FAA Administrator. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood swore him in for a five-year term on January 9. (See March 27, 2012.)
Wednesday, January 2, 2013: Garmin announced it had received FAA’s Technical Standard Order (TSO) Authorization and Approved Model List Supplemental Type Certificate (AML STC) approval for the GDL 88 series, the industry’s first dual-link ADS-B solution for certified aircraft. With these certifications, FAA approved the GDL 88 for installation on most Part 23 fixed-wing aircraft. The dual-link capability allowed the GDL 88 to receive both the 978 MHz UAT and 1090 MHz frequency bands. (See March 14, 2011; April 4, 2013.)
Monday, January 7, 2013:A Japan Airline 787 Dreamliner that had flown into Boston Logan from Tokyo caught fire while parked at the gate due to a malfunctioning battery. All passengers and crew from the plane had already departed the aircraft when the fire started. (See December 4, 2012; January 11, 2013.)
Friday, January 11, 2013:In light of a series of recent events with the Boeing 787, FAA announced it planned to conduct a comprehensive review of the Boeing 787 critical systems, including the design, manufacture, and assembly. FAA planned to validate the work conducted during the certification process to ensure the aircraft met FAA’s safety requirements. A team of FAA and Boeing engineers and inspectors conducted the joint review, with an emphasis on the aircraft’s electrical power and distribution system. (See January 7, 2013; January 16, 2013.)
Wednesday, January 16, 2013:FAA ordered all Boeing 787’s grounded. FAA’s emergency airworthiness directive required that the aircraft operator or Boeing had to prove the batteries safe before the aircraft could fly again. On this same day, All Nippon Airways Co. and Japan Airlines Co., the world’s largest users of Boeing 787 jets, grounded their entire fleets of Dreamliners after one of All Nippon’s 787s made an emergency landing in Japan the previous day because of smoke coming from the aircraft. (See January 11, 2013; March 12, 2013.)
Wednesday, January 16, 2013:In his weekly message to ATO employees, COO David Grizzle announced plans to combine the Terminal and En Route service organizations into a new Air Traffic ervices (AJT) organization. The reorganization would be effective on October 6, 2013, pending congressional approval. He also announced that the ATO would no longer support its own communications office, and FAA’s Office of Communications would handle ATO needs. As part of the reorganization the Eastern, Central and Western service areas were divided into northern and southern regions, with each of those six new areas reporting to a vice president (VP) of a newly formed Air Traffic Services division, rather than alignment based on facility type. This VP would oversee contract towers, and other contract operations and technical issues. In addition, a significant portion of Terminal and En Route headquarters functions would move into other service units – more than 40 current Terminal and En Route personnel would move to Mission Support Services, ten or more would move to Management Services, and several others would move to Safety and Technical Training, and System Operations Services. FAA received congressional approval the week of October 21 and the reorganization became effective on November 3. (See August 6, 2013; August 13, 2013.)
Tuesday, January 29, 2013:Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced that he would resign his post when the U.S. Senate confirmed his successor. (See April 29, 2013.)
Tuesday, February 12, 2013:FAA approved the Shanghai Hawker Pacific Business Aviation Service Center as an overseas repair station, making it the first aviation support facility in mainland China to hold Part 145 approval. (See November 20, 2009; August 12, 2014.)
Wednesday, February 13, 2013:FAA and the Spanish Aviation and Security Agency signed a declaration of cooperation to help develop alternative aviation fuels. (See October 21, 2010; June 11, 2013.)
Wednesday, February 13, 2013:American Airlines and US Airways agreed to a merger that would create the world’s largest airline. (See November 29, 2011; July 12, 2013.)
Thursday, February 14, 2013:FAA solicited proposals to create six drone sites around the U.S. in a major step toward opening U.S. airspace to unmanned drones. The tests sites would be used to determine the requirement needed to ensure that drones do not interfere with planes in the airspace or endanger people or property on the ground. (See March 7, 2012; June 19, 2013.)
Friday, February 22, 2013:Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood issued a statement which said that as a result of mandatory sequestration, the majority of the FAA’s nearly 47,000 employees would be furloughed for approximately one day per pay period until the end of the fiscal year. (See July 23, 2011; March 22, 2013.)
Tuesday, March 12, 2013:FAA approved the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company’s certification plan for the redesigned 787 battery system. The first step in the process to evaluate the 787’s return to flight, the certification plan required Boeing to conduct extensive testing and analysis to demonstrate compliance with the applicable safety regulations and special conditions. The plan established specific pass/fail criteria, defined the parameters that should be measured, prescribed the test methodology, and specified the test setup and design. FAA also approved limited test flights for two aircraft to validate the aircraft instrumentation for the battery and battery enclosure testing in addition to product improvements for other systems. (See January 16, 2013; April 19, 2013.)
Friday, March 22, 2013:FAA announced that 149 federal contract towers would close beginning on April 7 as part of the agency’s sequestration implementation plan. The agency made the decision to keep 24 federal contract towers open that it had previously proposed for closure because of national interest considerations. An additional 16 federal contract towers under the “cost share” program would remain open because Congressional statute set aside funds every fiscal year for those towers. FAA planned to begin a four-week phased closure of the 149 federal contract towers beginning on April 7. (See February 22, 2013; April 5, 2013.)
Monday, March 25, 2013:The U.S. and Guyana signed an agreement establishing an Open Skies air transportation relationship between the two countries. Prior to this agreement, U.S. Guyana aviation relations had been governed by the 1946 Air Transport Agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom. The Open Skies agreement established a liberalized aviation relationship that permitted unrestricted air service by the airlines of both countries. It eliminated restrictions on how often carriers fly, the kind of aircraft they may use, and the prices they charge. This was the 108th such agreement. (See December 13, 2011; May 28, 2013.)
Thursday, April 4, 2013:US Airways announced it had received FAA certification, the first airline to receive such approval, to use SafeRoute on its wide-body Airbus A330. The SafeRoute suite of four applications used Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology to provide pilots with more precise position information of the operating aircraft and other airplane traffic. It also included Interval Management (IM), In-Trail Procedures (ITP), Cockpit display of traffic information to Assist in Visual Separation (CAVS), and Surface Area Movement Management (SAMM). IM made use of onboard aircraft surveillance to provide flight deck spacing commands that enable aircraft to follow one another at the safest, most efficient interval possible, from cruise altitude to the runway. ITP improved situational awareness and enabled flight crews to perform desired altitude changes on a more frequent basis in oceanic or non-radar airspace. CAVS allowed the flight crew to continue visual approach procedures using the electronic display to maintain separation if they lost visual contact with Traffic-to-Follow due to hazy or night conditions. It also assisted the flight crew in properly timing the deceleration to final approach speed, configuring the aircraft for landing and properly spacing aircraft on the final approach segment just prior to landing. SAMM provided a moving map display of the airport surface in the cockpit that showed other traffic operating in the terminal, taxi, and runway areas. (See January 2, 2013; June 9, 2013.)
Friday, April 5, 2013:FAA announced it would delay the closure of all 149 federal contract air traffic control towers until June 15. The previous month, FAA had announced it would eliminate funding for these towers as part of the agency’s required $637 million budget cuts under sequestration. This additional time would allow the agency to attempt to resolve multiple legal challenges to the closure decisions. As part of the tower closure implementation process, the agency continued to consult with airports and operators and reviewed appropriate risk mitigations. (See March 22, 2013; April 23, 2013.)
Monday, April 8, 2013:In a settlement agreement and order made public on this date, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it would spend the next 12 months creating a dedicated aircraft rescue firefighting (ARFF) force at the four New York-area airports it owned and operated – John F. Kennedy (JFK), Teterboro, LaGuardia, and Newark Liberty International after acknowledging lapses that included allowing untrained Port Authority police officers to serve on active ARFF duty. PANYNJ paid $3.5 million in fines to settle the case and agreed to hire dedicated ARFF firefighters, facility captains, and a fire chief, as well as to set up a training academy to ensure they met basic standards. FAA’s investigation began when Port Authority officials could not supply training documentation during a routine inspection at JFK in December 2011. FAA then reviewed training at LaGuardia, Newark Liberty, and Stewart International, and found only Stewart – where DOD provided ARFF services – in compliance. FAA and Port Authority officials planned to meet monthly to review progress on meeting the milestones set out in the settlement, and FAA could impose an additional $1.5 million in fines, plus $27,500 daily for each additional violation, if PANYNJ violated the settlement deal.
Friday, April 19, 2013:FAA took the next step in returning the Boeing 787 to flight by approving Boeing’s design for modifications to the 787 battery system. Boeing’s changes addressed risks at the battery cell level, the battery level and the aircraft level. FAA subsequently planned to issue instructions to operators for making changes to the aircraft and to publish in the Federal Register the final directive that would allow the 787 to return to service with the battery system modifications. The FAA also required airlines that operate the 787 to install containment and venting systems for the main and auxiliary system batteries and to replace the batteries and their chargers with modified components. (See March 12, 2013; April 25, 2013.)
Monday, April 22, 2013:Eight months after becoming the first U.S. airline to obtain FAA approval to use Apple iPads on the flight deck during all phases of flight, American Airlines completed its rollout of the off-the-shelf electronic flight bags across its entire mainline fleet. Pilots of the carrier’s Boeing 757s and 767s completed a 30-day transition with the iPads as primary flight support and paper charts as backup. American first tested the iPad on a Boeing 777 in January 2011. (See March 14, 2011; June 26, 2013.)
Tuesday, April 23, 2013:As a result of employee furloughs due to sequestration, which began on April 21, FAA began implementing traffic management initiatives at airports and facilities around the country. FAA announced that travelers could expect to see a wide range of delays that would change throughout the day depending on staffing and weather related issues. For example, the FAA experienced staffing challenges at the New York and Los Angeles En Route Centers and at the Dallas-Ft. Worth and Las Vegas TRACONs. Controllers spaced planes farther apart so they could manage traffic with smaller staffs. This led to delays at airports including Dallas, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The FAA also expected delays at Newark and LaGuardia because of weather and winds. On April 21, FAA attributed more than 1,200 delays in the system to staffing reductions resulting from the furlough. 1,400 additional delays resulted from weather and other factors. (See April 5, 2013 April 24, 2013.)
Wednesday, April 24, 2013:FAA announced that due to employee furloughs as a result of sequestration, on April 23 the furlough caused more than 1,025 delays in the system. Weather and other delays caused more than 975 additional delays. The following day, FAA announced that on April 25, furlough-related staffing reductions at the New York, Washington, Cleveland, Jacksonville, and Los Angeles En Route Centers, the Potomac, Dallas and Southern California TRACONs and Detroit Tower contributed to more than 863 delays, and weather and other factors caused more than 1,269 additional delays. (See April 23, 2013; April 27, 2013.)
Thursday, April 25, 2013:FAA published a rule that lifted the grounding of the Boeing 787s operated by carriers based in the U.S. once those carriers installed modified lithium-ion batteries. The following day, Japanese authorities formally approved Boeing’s proposed fixes to the batteries and declared the aircraft fit for use. On April 27, a Boeing 787 flew from Ethiopia to Kenya, the first Dreamliner flight since the plane’s grounding in January 2013. United Airlines restarted its Dreamliner flights within the U.S. on May 20. (See April 19, 2013; June 23, 2013.)
Saturday, April 27, 2013:After Congressional action FAA suspended all employee furloughs. A typo in the legislation delayed getting the bill to the President, but President Obama signed it on May 1. The law allowed the FAA to move as much as $253 million within its budget to end furloughs and gave the agency enough flexibility to cancel the planned June 15 closing of 149 small airport control towers operated by contractors. (See April 24, 2013; May 9, 2013.)
Monday, April 29, 2013:President Barack Obama nominated Charlotte, NC, Mayor Anthony Foxx to succeed Ray LaHood as Transportation Secretary. (See January 29, 2013; May 22, 2013.)
Monday, April 29, 2013: Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo made its first powered flight. It broke the sound barrier in a test over the Mojave Desert. The flight lasted 10 minutes. It made its second powered flight on September 5. (See June 7, 2012; July 31, 2013; January 10, 2014.)
April 2013:FAA and other U.S. government agencies completed the third and final operational field test in a two-year, $8 million program to study the physical and electromagnetic interference between radar systems and wind turbine farms, and to identify mitigation techniques to address potential issues. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory analyzed data from the third Interagency Field Test and Evaluation of Wind Turbine-Radar to help develop long-term mitigation techniques. Interference with radar had been a safety concern for both the FAA and the military, as well as a key roadblock to developers of new wind turbine farms, both in the U.S. and abroad.
Friday, May 3, 2013:FAA proposed a new policy aimed at providing better handling of a wide range of certification applications. The draft policy set the maximum delay that the agency could apply to applications for type certificates, amended type certificates, supplemental type certificates and several other approvals, including parts manufacturer approval (PMA). Under the draft policy, all projects would be acted on when the FAA received an application, and the maximum delay in starting a project would be based on a metric each certification office set to perform a project, plus 90 days. First in the queue would be higher-priority projects, based on the highest value of a “safety index” developed by the FAA. FAA based the draft policy, in part, on input the agency received after posting a request for comments in September 2011. Congress had mandated a broader review of the agency’s certification processes under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. In response, the agency co-chaired an aviation rulemaking committee that reviewed existing processes and made recommendations in February. (See February 14, 2012; December 11, 2013.)
Wednesday, May 8, 2013:FAA announced that controllers at the San Francisco, Houston, and Memphis international airports would have a new tool to reduce delays beginning on May 15, May 20, and August 5, respectively, as part of a one-year FAA pilot program. The wake turbulence mitigation for departures (WTMD) is a crosswind-based system that enables closely spaced parallel runway departures to take place without wake turbulence constraints. The system allowed for the crosswind-enabled elimination of wake turbulence separation minima when Heavy/B757 aircraft depart the downwind runway and any aircraft follows departing on the upwind runway. WTMD requires favorable wind conditions for a specific airport’s runway configuration and a minimum ceiling and visibility of 1,000 feet altitude above ground level (AGL) and 3 statute miles (SM). The WTMD system uses wind information at the surface and incrementally up to about 1,200 feet AGL to ensure actual crosswinds and a conservative forecast of future crosswinds are sufficiently strong to allow the reduced separation operations. WTMD notifies ATC supervisors when one of the closely spaced parallel runway (upwind runway) could be used as wake independent from Heavy/B757 aircraft departing from the parallel (downwind) runway and allowed them to enable the WTMD procedure. (See November 1, 2012.)
Thursday, May 9, 2013:FAA announced it no longer planned to close 72 medium-sized air traffic control facilities overnight because of sequestration. The following day, on May 10, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the recently enacted Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013 would allow the FAA to transfer sufficient funds to end employee furloughs and keep the 149 low activity contract towers originally slated for closure in June open for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. The FAA also planned to put $10 million towards reducing cuts and delays in core NextGen programs and allocated approximately $11 million to partially restore infrastructure support in the national airspace system. (See September 28, 2012; April 27, 2013; May 20, 2013; August 14, 2013.)
Wednesday, May 15, 2013:The White House nominated Michael Whitaker, an airline industry veteran, to fill the deputy administrator role left vacant by Michael Huerta’s January 1 appointment as FAA administrator. Whitaker, who worked for the air transport division of Indian conglomerate InterGlobe Enterprises, had more than 20 years of experience in the airline industry, first with Trans World Airlines and then at United, where he worked for 15 years. Whitaker served as senior vice president for alliances, international, and regulatory affairs at United before joining InterGlobe in 2009. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood swore him in on June 3, 2013. (See June 23, 2010.)
Monday, May 20, 2013:The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated a lawsuit combining claims by airports groups and local communities against the FAA over plans to close the contract air traffic control towers. DOT and FAA asked the court to drop the suit, arguing it was moot given the decision to continue funding the contract tower program through fiscal 2013. (See May 9, 2013.)
Wednesday, May 22, 2013:The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee held a confirmation hearing for Anthony Foxx to become the next Secretary of Transportation. At the hearings, Representative John Thune (R-SD) placed a hold on the nomination until DOT and FAA answered the questions posed in letters he sent earlier in the year asking for information on budgets, budget cuts, and related decision-making processes. After Thune lifted his hold, the Committee approved the nomination on June 10. (See April 29, 2013; June 27, 2013.)
Tuesday, May 28, 2013:The U.S. and Saudi Arabia signed an Open Skies agreement, which, following a transition period would permit unrestricted air service by the airlines of both countries between and beyond the other’s territory, eliminating restrictions on how often the carriers fly, the kind of aircraft they use, and the prices they charge. This became the 109th such agreement the U.S. signed with other nations. (See March 25, 2013; July 8, 2013.)
Wednesday, May 29, 2013:State officials dedicated a new air traffic control tower at Kona Airport, Hawaii. The new tower replaced one constructed almost 43 years ago. Officials also formally broke ground for a new 24,000-squiare-foot aircraft rescue and firefighting facility. FAA and state funds covered the cost of the $14.5 million project.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013:Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport celebrated the completion of a $29 million project designed to support the expansion of its largest tenant, Gulfstream Aerospace, while making room for future aviation business. Announced in late 2010, the North Aviation Development project involved the realignment of Gulfstream Road, including construction of a tunnel; a new electrical vault; a taxiway bridge; Taxiway H; as well as the extension of existing Taxiway A. FAA grants and airport revenues funded the project.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013:The Office of Management and Budget told federal agencies to prepare their fiscal 2015 budget requests with three levels of spending in mind, including 5% and 10% cuts from the projection laid down in April with the 2014 request. The budget-crafting guidance represented the first formal recognition of the long-term effects of the 2011 Budget Control Act, whose first round of widespread, automatic sequestration rescissions took effect in March 2013.
Friday, May 31, 2013:FAA issued an updated version of its 10-year old advisory circular on wildlife collisions, AC 150/5200-32B. The update explained a number of recent improvements to the agency’s strike reporting system.
Monday, June 3, 2013:NASA awarded $38 million in contracts to Boeing, Honeywell, Rockwell Collins, and Saab Sensis to conduct research to develop and improve technologies and methods to improve situational awareness of real-time electronic information. The two-year contracts, with three one-year follow-on options would total $9.5 million if NASA exercised all contract options. NASA tasked the companies with studying the human factors designs of how information could be best presented on flight decks or at control stations, including developing human-machine interfaces that reduced uncertainties associated with real-time information presentation.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013:Santa Monica, CA-based start-up airline Surf Air announced it had been certified by the FAA. The new membership-based airline began flights on June 12. Surf Air offered all-you-can-fly service to its members. The airline had 150 members, each paying $1,350 per month to belong. The airline had another 4,000 people on its waiting list. The company flew Pilatus PC-12 aircraft, a single-engine turboprop plane, configured to seat six people. Its first route linked San Carlos and Burbank.
Sunday, June 9, 2013:JetBlue conducted its first ever automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) commercial flights from Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco. This was the first commercial aircraft that reached its destination using a route that relied primarily on ADS-B. FAA determined the route over the Gulf of Mexico based on the need for the aircraft to avoid turbulent weather. (See April 4, 2013; April 14, 2014.)
Monday, June 10, 2013:FAA asked the world’s fuel producers to submit proposals for fuel options that would help the general aviation industry make a transition to an unleaded fuel. The FAA hoped to develop a new unleaded fuel by 2018 that would minimize the impact of replacing 100 octane low-lead fuel for most of the general aviation fleet. The request came in response to the July 2012 Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee report to the FAA, which noted the currently unavailability of a “drop-in” unleaded replacement fuel. (See February 13, 2013; August 14, 2013; September 8, 2014.)
Tuesday, June 18, 2013:FAA announced the integration of the Traffic Analysis Review Program (TARP) at all en route centers. The TARP software automatically detected losses of aircraft separation and reported all such losses to the Comprehensive Electronic Data Analysis and Reporting program (CEDAR). The system that TARP replaced – the Operational Error Detection Patch – captured losses of separation but did not transfer them directly into CEDAR. With TARP, alerts automatically showed up in CEDAR as Electronic Occurrence Reports. CEDAR gathered both Mandatory and Electronic Occurrence Reports for analysis by ATO Safety and Technical Training’s Quality Assurance team, helping the FAA study data to validate and classify events, and then to take steps to prevent them from occurring again. TARP had been used at Terminal facilities since 2009.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013:In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged for the first time in public that the FBI had used small, unarmed and unmanned drones to conduct surveillance. The FBI released a statement following Mueller’s testimony explaining that the use of drones had allowed the agency to “learn critical information that otherwise would be difficult to obtain without introducing serious risk to law enforcement personnel.” The agency also noted that it only used drones to conduct surveillance on stationary objects. (See February 14, 2013; July 19, 2013.)
Wednesday, June 19, 2013:NTSB received a petition urging the agency to reconsider its investigation of the 1996 TWA 800 crash. A group of individuals who took part in a new documentary about the deadly crash initiated the petition. The documentary suggested that NTSB investigators had not interviewed any of the eyewitnesses “who claimed to have seen something like a missile leave the shore that night headed toward the” plane. On June 28, NTSB issued a statement and invited journalists to its training center on July 2, saying “Since the accident occurred 17 years ago, many who are now covering the petition filing are less familiar with the details and findings of the NTSB’s four-year investigation.” (See July 17, 1996.)
Thursday, June 20, 2013:Controllers began handling flights from a new, 236-foot tower at Oakland International Airport. The new tower replaced two existing towers – the first built in 1962 and the other approximately 10 years ago when a new hanger blocked controllers’ view of the north side of the airport. Having all controllers working in one tower reduced the amount of coordination required between the two towers and streamlined operations and procedures. (See October 15, 2010; November 22, 2013.)
Sunday, June 23, 2013:A United Airlines Boeing 787 flight from Houston to Denver returned to Houston shortly after takeoff because of an issue with the brake indicator. The previous Thursday, June 20, a United Boeing 787 from London to Houston made an emergency landing in Newark, NJ, because an indicator showed low engine oil. On Tuesday, June 18, a United Boeing 787 from Denver to Tokyo diverted to Seattle because of what the airline called an oil filter issue. (See April 25, 2013; July 25, 2013.)
Wednesday, June 26, 2013:JetBlue announced it had received regulatory approval from FAA to allow its pilots to use electronic flight bags during all phases of flight. JetBlue had tested the electronic flight bags with a limited number of pilots before gaining approval to equip all of it pilots. Like American Airlines it provided its pilots Apple iPads. (See April 22, 2013; February 10, 2014.)
Thursday, June 27, 2013:The Senate confirmed Charlotte, NC, Mayor Anthony Foxx as Secretary of Transportation. He was sworn in during a private ceremony on July 2. Vice President Joe Biden publicly swore him in on July 12. (See May 22, 2013.)
Tuesday, July 2, 2013:Effective this date, a new FAA rule amended design requirements in the airworthiness standards for transport category airplanes to minimize the occurrence of design-related flightcrew errors. The new design requirements enabled a flightcrew member to detect and manage his or her errors when the errors occurred. The rule eliminated regulatory differences between U.S. and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) airworthiness standards without affecting current industry design practices.
Sunday, July 7, 2013:Asiana Flight 214 from Seoul, South Korea, crashed at San Francisco International Airport when the plane hit a seawall upon landing. The Boeing 777 had more than 300 people aboard and the accident caused 3 deaths and over 180 injuries.
Monday, July 8, 2013:The United States and the Republic of Suriname signed an Open Skies agreement, which, following a transition period would permit unrestricted air service by the airlines of both countries between and beyond the other’s territory, eliminating restrictions on how often the carriers fly, the kind of aircraft they use, and the prices they charge. This became the 110th such agreement the U.S. signed with other nations. (See May 28, 2013.)
Friday, July 12, 2013:US Airways’ planned merger with AMR Corp. was approved by the company’s shareholders. The vote, cast after the company’s annual general meeting in New York, returned a more than 99% approval of the deal, which still had to be approved by AMR’s bankruptcy court and U.S. regulators. (See February 13, 2013; August 13, 2013.)
Monday, July 15, 2013:A new FAA regulation went into effect requiring a second in command (first officer) in domestic, flag, and supplemental operations to hold an airline transport pilot certificate and an airplane type rating for the aircraft to be flown. An airline transport pilot certificate required that a pilot be 23 years of age and have 1,500 hours total time as a pilot. (See December 21, 2011; November 5, 2013.)
Tuesday, July 16, 2013:FAA issued a final policy statement that permitted general aviation airports to enter into residential through-the-fence (RTTF) agreements with property owners or associations representing property owners. To gain access, the property owner was required to pay access charges; bear the cost of building and maintaining the infrastructure necessary to provide access to the airfield; maintain the property for residential, noncommercial use for the duration of the agreement; prohibit airport access from other adjacent or nearby properties; and prohibit any refueling on the property. FAA clarified that sponsors of commercial service airports were not permitted to enter into RTTF arrangements. However, the sponsors of GA airports could enter into such an arrangement if the airport sponsor complied with certain requirements contained in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. (See February 14, 2012.)
Friday, July 19, 2013:FAA issued restricted category type certificates to a pair of UAS, a milestone that would lead to the first approved commercial UAS operations later in the summer. The newly certified UAS – Insitu’s Scan Eagle X200 and AeroVironment’s PUMA – were small UASs weighing less than 55 pounds. Each was about 4 ½ feet long, with wingspans of ten and nine feet, respectively. (See June 19, 2013; September 12, 2013.)
Thursday, July 25, 2013:FAA issued an airworthiness directive that advised airlines to inspect or remove emergency locator transmitters in Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner jets. The agency published the directive in the wake of a fire linked to one of the devices. (See June 23, 2013; July 26, 2013.)
Thursday, July 25, 2013:The new air traffic control tower in Palm Springs, CA, became operational.
Friday, July 26, 2013:An Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), convened by FAA, recommended a broad range of policy and regulatory changes that could significantly improve the safety of general aviation aircraft while simultaneously reducing certification and modification costs for those aircraft. The committee’s recommendations covered the areas of design, production, maintenance, and safety. The ARC’s goal was to identify ways to streamline the certification process, making it cheaper and easier for manufacturers to incorporate safety improvements into their products, allow for upgrades to the existing fleet, and provide greater flexibility to incorporate future technological advancements.
Friday, July 26, 2013:FAA issued an airworthiness directive (AD) giving Boeing 787 operators 10 days to inspect Honeywell emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) or remove them from service. The AD, triggered by the July 12 fire on an Ethiopian Airlines 787 at London Heathrow Airport, ordered checks of the ELT, its lithium-manganese-dioxide battery, and associated wiring for discrepancies. (See July 25, 2013; September 30, 2013.)
Wednesday, July 31, 2013:A new ground and satellite-based air traffic control system, the Wide Area Multilateration system went into operation at the Telluride airport in Colorado. The Colorado Division of Aeronautics, FAA, and a $110,000 contribution by the Telluride Regional Airport Authority funded the new system, which allowed controllers to track planes below 12,000 feet all the way to the ground. (See December 3, 2012.)
Wednesday, July 31, 2013:FAA released its draft “Established Practices for Human Space Flight Safety” for public comment. It updated the draft with its “rationale” on September 23, 2013. According to the report’s introduction, FAA developed “this document to share our thoughts about established practices for human space flight occupant safety. Ultimately, our goal is to gain the consensus of government, industry, and academia on established practices as part of our mandate to encourage, facilitate, and promote the continuous improvement of the safety of launch and reentry vehicles designed to carry humans. The outcome of this effort may also serve as a starting point for a future rulemaking project.” (See April 29, 2013; December 4, 2013; September 16, 2014.)
Sunday, August 11, 2013:Rockwell Collins announced it had agreed to purchase ARINC, Inc., for $1.39 billion. The purchase, when completed, would expand Rockwell Collins’ aerospace business by combining its avionics and cabin technologies with ARINC’s ground-based navigational networks. (See December 2, 1929.)
Tuesday, August 13, 2013:FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced that ATO COO David Grizzle would be leaving the agency in December. Grizzle’s last day at FAA was December 12, 2013. (See April 24, 2011; January 16, 2013; March 21, 2014EA.)
Tuesday, August 13, 2013:The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit that claimed the proposed merger between AMR Corp. and US Airways could be illegal on more than 1,000 domestic city pairs and must be dismantled to stop a clique of national carriers from manipulating services and ticket prices. The lawsuit was jointly filed by Justice, six states, and the District of Colombia. The states included Texas, where AMR is based, and US Airways’ home state of Arizona. In a review of the proposed merger, Justice’s lawsuit with the District Court for the District of Columbia cited numerous public comments and internal communications by senior US Airways executives—some dating to 2006—that it said proved that competition between U.S. airlines would be weakened should the merger be approved. Both airlines reacted immediately, issuing a joint statement calling the DOJ’s assessment “wrong,” and that stopping “this pro-competitive merger will deny customers access to a broader airline network that gives them more choices.” (See July 12, 2013; October 28, 2013.)
Wednesday, August 14, 2013:UPS Flight 1354, an A300 cargo plane en route from Louisville, KY, to Birmingham, AL, crashed approximately 1/2 mile north of Runway 18 on approach to Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport at about 6 am EDT, killing both pilots onboard.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013:NASA Administrator Charles Bolden unveiled a new strategic vision for the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate to align program activities and investments toward progress in six research and technology areas (see May 9, 2013; August 22, 2013):
- Safe, efficient growth in global operations, including NextGen and technologies to improve safety;
- Innovation in commercial supersonic aircraft, including work on lowering sonic boom impacts;
- Ultra-efficient commercial transports, including pioneering technologies for big leaps in efficiency and lessening environmental impacts;
- Transition to low-carbon propulsion and alternative fuels (See June 10, 2013; September 13, 2013.);
- Real-time, system-wide safety assurance, with emphasis on new integrated monitoring technology; and
- Breakthroughs in autonomy with high-impact applications.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013:FAA published its final policy regarding the procedures for aircraft owners and operators to ask the FAA to limit the dissemination of their Aircraft Situation Display to Industry data. Under the new policy, owners must document a legitimate security concern to justify the data-blocking. The FAA notice spelled out the exact information that had to be included in the request, such as the aircraft registration number and the requestor’s contact information.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013:FAA announced it had installed a new system, Time-Based Flow Management (TBFM) at all 20 en route centers. TBFM replaced the traffic management advisor. The time-based scheduling tool metered aircraft through all phases of flight to deliver the correct number of aircraft to airspace sectors and down to the runway at the exact pace at which the aircraft could be accommodated.
Thursday, August 22, 2013:Updates to FAA joint order 7210.3X, the agency’s operational guide to ATC facility management, took effect. Version three of the guide included a new paragraph that required facilities to develop procedures to ensure positive control during opposite-direction operations to reduce the likelihood of aircraft being placed in close proximity in a head-on conflict with high closure rates. Another change addressed the complexity of the risk of operations on closed runways. In another update, the well-used radio prefix “Lifeguard” was being replaced by the term “Medevac.”
Thursday, August 22, 2013:Federal and State officials dedicated the new south runway at Port Columbus International Airport. FAA funded 63 percent of the $140 million project.
Thursday, August 22, 2013:Paul Poberezny, founder of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), died at the age of 91. He started EAA as a club for those who built and restored their own aircraft in 1953, and grew the club into an association with more than 180,000 members.
Thursday, August 22, 2013:FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced the selection of Major General Edward L. Bolton, Jr. USAF (Ret.) as the new assistant administrator for NextGen. Bolton began his Air Force career as an enlisted cost and management analyst. He was commissioned in 1983 after completing an electrical engineering degree via the Airmen Education and Commissioning Program and graduating from Officer Training School. He had over twenty years of executive-level experience in acquisition, program management, systems engineering, requirements development, policy development, strategic planning, financial management and congressional engagement. Prior to joining FAA, he has served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller. He began his FAA duties on September 9. (See August 14, 2013; September 13, 2013.)
Thursday, August 22, 2013:FAA, working with the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), issued a final policy for improving workplace safety for aircraft cabin crewmembers. Aircraft cabin safety issues that fell under OSHA standards included information on hazardous chemicals, exposure to blood-borne pathogens, and hearing conservation programs, as well as rules on record-keeping and access to employee exposure and medical records. The FAA and OSHA planned to develop procedures to ensure that OSHA did not apply any requirements that could adversely affect aviation safety. On August 26 FAA clarified the policy, stating it covered “all aircraft operations that utilize at least one aircraft cabin crewmember” while the aircraft was in operation. Pilots were exempt from the policy. The new policy replaced ones from 1975 and became effective on September 26, 2013.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013:As part of a joint research effort with FAA, the Navy, and Army, NASA dropped part of a military helicopter from about 30 feet to test improved seat belts and seats at its Langley, VA, facility. Nearly 40 cameras positioned inside and outside the fuselage recorded the effects on the 13 crash dummies. The helicopter hit the ground at about 30 miles per hour under conditions meant to be severe, but survivable. (See July 30, 2003.)
Tuesday, September 3, 2013:FAA issued a final rule that prohibited, after December 31, 2015, the operation in the contiguous United States of jet airplanes weighing 75,000 pounds or less that did not meet Stage 3 noise levels as defined in 14 CFR Part 36. Operators of airplanes that did not comply with Stage 3 noise levels could choose to replace them, or to incorporate noise-reduction technologies that might be available to make the airplanes Stage 3 noise compliant. (See December 4, 2012.)
Thursday, September 12, 2013:ConocoPhillips made the first commercial flight of an unmanned aircraft. Under a restricted category type certification the FAA awarded in July, ConocoPhillips launched an Insitu ScanEagle from the research vessel Westward Wind in the Chukchi Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean west of Alaska, to monitor whale migrations and ice flows in the Chukchi Sea. FAA had an agreement with ConocoPhillips to collect data about the UAVs flight operations. (See July 19, 2013; October 15, 2013.)
Friday, September 13, 2013:Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced the selection of a team of universities to lead a new FAA Air Transportation Center of Excellence (COE) for alternate jet fuels and the environment. Led by Washington State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the COE would explore ways to meet the environmental and energy goals that were part of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). The FAA’s COE program was a cost-sharing research partnership between academia, industry and the federal government. The FAA anticipated providing this COE with $4 million a year for each of the 10 years of the program. Core team partners included Boston University, Oregon State University, Purdue University, the University of Dayton, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, the University of Hawaii, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Tennessee. (See August 14, 2013; August 22, 2013; September 18, 2013; December 3, 2013.)
Sunday, September 15, 2013:FAA began operations in the new, $33 million, 268-foot, air traffic control tower at the Boise Airport. The new tower replaced a 40-year old, 65 foot tall control tower. The new tower also housed a new TRACON. City officials formally dedicated the tower on November 17, 2013.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013:FAA issued an airworthiness directive (AD) identical to the August 26 Transport Canada Civil Aviation directive which required airlines to inspect Honeywell emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) by January 14, 2014, to prevent an electrical short and possible ignition source. The FAA AD affected about 4,000 airplanes at a total cost of approximately $325,720.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013:Richard Stockton College of New Jersey announced that the college’s board had authorized a three-year agreement making the aviation research park being planned near the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center an auxiliary organization of the college. The move was made in part due to a FAA request that the park, a registered nonprofit organization, find a stable development partner for the project first announced eight years ago. Long known as the NextGen Aviation Research and Technology Park, the college eliminated “NextGen” from the park’s name, instead calling it the Stockton Aviation Research and Technology Park. (See October 19, 2009.)
Wednesday, September 18, 2013:The FAA’s National Enterprise Management Center moved into its new building in Salt Lake City. The FAA established two such centers two decades ago in Atlanta and Salt Lake City to house redundant operations systems that that collect and distribute weather data and flight plans, manage telecommunications, and host the network security gateways for external stakeholders and international users. FAA completed a new Atlanta facility in January 2011.
Thursday, September 19, 2013:FAA dedicated a new air traffic control tower at Palm Springs International Airport. The $24.5 million project — paid for, in part, with $13.9 million in federal stimulus funds — got underway in June 2010. It replaced the control tower built in 1967.
Friday, September 20, 2013:FAA announced that Ukraine complied with international safety standards set by ICAO, based on the results of a July FAA review. FAA upgraded Ukraine to Category 1 from the Category 2 safety rating the country received from the FAA in June 2005. With the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Category 1 rating, Ukraine’s air carriers could add flights and service to the United States and carry the code of U.S. carriers. With the Category 2 rating, a country’s airlines can maintain existing service to the United States, but cannot establish new services. At the time of the announcement, Ukraine did not provide service to the United States. (See November 1, 2012; January 31, 2014.)
Friday, September 27, 2013:A United Airlines pilot suffered a fatal heart attack while flying en route from Houston to Seattle, He was 63 years old. The co-pilot safely landed the plane.
Monday, September 30, 2013:An advisory panel established by FAA to provide recommendations on the use of electronic devices on airplanes delivered its recommendations to the agency. The panel said that airline passengers should be allowed to use their personal electronic devices to read, play games or enjoy movies and music, even when planes are on the ground or flying below 10,000 feet. The panel said that restrictions should remain on sending text messages, browsing the Web or checking e-mail after the plane’s doors have been closed. Passengers can do that only when the aircraft’s Wi-Fi network is turned on, typically above 10,000 feet. The use of cellphones to make voice calls, which was not part of the review, will still be prohibited throughout the flight. After reviewing the recommendations, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta will determine next steps. (See August 27, 2012; October 31, 2013.)
Monday, September 30, 2013:General Dynamics announced that FAA had awarded it a $12 million task order to provide engineering, software design and development, infrastructure, and administrative support to the NextGen Integration and Evaluation Capability (NIEC) laboratory at the William J. Hughes Technical Center. FAA awarded the task order under the FAA’s System Engineering 2020 program, which was awarded to General Dynamics in 2010. (See September 13, 2013; October 31, 2013.)
Monday, September 30, 2013:Boeing Commercial Airplanes Marketing Vice President Randy Tinseth acknowledged ongoing reliability issues with the 787 Dreamliner at a press conference in Santiago, Chile. The aircraft had suffered an assortment of electrical and safety issues, the latest of which occurred on September 29 when a 787 operated by Poland’s carrier LOT had to land unexpectedly in Iceland because of a problem with the plane’s identification system. Over the same weekend, Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA grounded a brand new 787 Dreamliner and demanded that Boeing repair it after it suffered repeated breakdowns. Tinseth said the process of improving reliability could be a long one, but said the reliability of the 787 was better than 95 percent. (See July 26, 2013; November 22, 2013.)
Monday, September 30, 2013:DOT issued a notice of proposed rulemaking seeking comments on four new proposals to strengthen the legal protections provided to consumers of charter air transportation. First, this proposal would require air taxis and commuter air carriers that sell charter air transportation but rely on others to perform that air transportation to make certain consumer disclosures as recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). This proposal would also create a new class of indirect air carriers to be called “air charter brokers” to provide as principals single entity charter air transportation of passengers aboard large and small aircraft. In addition, this NPRM would codify the exemption authority granted to indirect air carriers to engage in the sale of air transportation related to air ambulance services. Finally, the NPRM would make clear and codify that certain air services performed under contract with the Federal Government are in common carriage. The public had until November 29, 2013, to provide comments on the proposals.
Monday, September 30, 2013:During the fiscal year that ended on this date, FAA installed 25 new aviation weather cameras in Alaska, bringing the total of installed cameras to 215. (See March 25, 2011.)
Tuesday, October 1, 2013:FAA discontinued direct-to-the-public individual sales of paper aeronautical charts and related paper products. FAA’s aeronautical paper products were now available through authorized sales chart agents.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013:The lack of fiscal year 2014 appropriations resulted in a partial government shutdown. The shutdown led to about 15,500 of the approximately 46,000 FAA employees being furloughed. Late on October 16, Congress passed and the President signed early on October 17 a continuing resolution funding the government through January 15. Employees began returning to work on October 17. Prior to the furlough ending, FAA had recalled approximately 3,000 safety inspectors.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013:Applied Research Associates Inc. (ARA) announced FAA had issued its Nighthawk IV micro-unmanned aircraft system a special airworthiness certificate, which would allow potential customers to apply for agency approval to operate the 2-lb. aircraft in the national airspace. Capable of being operated by one or two personnel, the Nighthawk IV can be hand-launched or launched from a tube. The vehicle flies autonomously while the operator directs the route using a touchpad display. Only four hours of training are required before an operator can conduct a flight, according to ARA. (See September 12, 2013; November 7, 2013.)
Tuesday, October 15, 2013:Air travel provider De Pere, Wisconsin-based MetJet informed the Department of Transportation that it planned to cease operations on October 26. MetJet offered flights from Austin Strauble International Airport in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin, to Orlando and Fort Meyers, Florida. MetJet’s contracted airline, Sun Country, is not ceasing operations.
Thursday, October 17, 2013:A 10,800 foot runway opened at O’Hare International Airport as part of a larger expansion project. The new runway, 10 Center/28 Center, became the airport’s only airstrip capable of accommodating the largest planes in the commercial fleet – the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental.
Monday, October 21, 2013:United Airlines announced plans to equip up to 397 of its aircraft over the next six years with avionics equipment necessary to provide the pilot-to-controller digital communications under the FAA NextGen data comm avionics equipage program. United became the first carrier to commit to such equipage. On September 20, 2012, FAA awarded Harris Corp., a $331 million Data Communications Integrated Services (DCIS) contract as part of the NextGen airspace modernization initiative. Among other things, the contract called for a data comm avionics equipage program, an $80 million fund to encourage equipping a minimum of 1,900 aircraft during the course of the first six years of the contract for Future Air Navigation Systems (FANS) 1/A. (See September 30, 2013.)
Tuesday, October 22, 2013:Chilton County Airport (Alabama) held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of a $2.6 million project that would include a new runway lighting system, a resurfaced runway, the installation of a new hangar housing 10 airplanes, and the clearing of six parcels of land to extend the runway to 4,000 feet. FAA and Alabama DOT grants funded the project.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013:NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey announced that starting April 13, the federal government would no longer print traditional lithographic (paper) nautical charts, but would continue to provide other forms of nautical charts, including print on demand charts and versions for electronic charting systems. While NOAA has the job of creating and maintaining the charts, beginning in 1999, the FAA became responsible for printing them. FAA informed NOAA earlier in October that it planned to stop printing the charts. FAA based its decision on several factors, including the declining demand for lithographic charts, the increasing use of digital and electronic charts, and federal budget realities.
Friday, October 25, 2013:DOT fined United Airlines $1.1 million for13 weather-related lengthy tarmac delays that took place at Chicago-O’Hare International Airport on July 13, 2012. DOT ordered the airline to cease and desist from future violations of the tarmac-delay rule. This was the largest fine assessed for a tarmac-delay violation since the rule limiting long tarmac delays first took effect in April 2010. Of the $1.1 million, United will pay the United States $475,000; the remainder covers mitigation measures for affected passengers and significant corrective actions by United to enhance future compliance with tarmac delay requirements.
Monday, October 28, 2013:American Airlines, US Airways, and the U.S. Justice Department said in a court filing they had agreed to use a mediator to try to settle the government’s lawsuit against the airlines’ proposed merger. If mediation failed, a trial would begin on November 25. The court filing also noted that most of the discovery in the case had been completed, with the airlines producing more than 1.3 million documents and the Justice Department producing 900,000 documents. The Justice Department argued that the merger would lead to higher fares, reduced competition, and a cut in services to smaller cities. American Airlines and US Airways said the merger would help them better compete with other airlines that have grown bigger through mergers of their own. Separately, the judge hearing the government’s antitrust case granted the request of four airports dominated by American and US Airways — Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International and Philadelphia International Airport — the chance to file friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the merger. (See August 13, 2013; November 12, 2013.)
Thursday, October 31, 2013:FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced the FAA would allow airlines to permit passenger use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight, and provided airlines with implementation guidance. The guidance helped airlines assess the risks of potential PED-induced avionics problems for their airplanes and specific operations. Before allowing use of PEDs, airlines had to evaluate avionics as well as changes to stowage rules and passenger announcements. Each airline also had to revise manuals, checklists for crewmember training materials, carry-on baggage programs, and passenger briefings before expanding use of PEDs. FAA then had to certify PED use for each model of airplane in an airline’s fleet. Each airline determined how and when they will allow passengers broader use of PEDs. FAA did not consider changing the regulations regarding the use of cell phones for voice communications during flight because the issue is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). On November 8, FAA approved JetBlue Airways and Delta Airlines use of PEDs and on November 3, approved American Airlines. By November 15, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines had joined the list of airlines approved for PED use. (See September 30, 2013; February 11, 2014.)
Friday, November 1, 2013:The City of McKinney, Texas, took over operations at Collin County Regional Airport, a general aviation airport established in 1979. The change included a new city-operated Fixed Base Operator, McKinney Air Center. On November 6, the McKinney City Council approved changing the name of the airport to McKinney National Airport.
Monday, November 4, 2013:DOT fined US Airways $1.2 million for failing to provide adequate wheelchair assistance to passengers in Philadelphia, PA, and Charlotte, NC. The fine was one of the largest ever assessed by DOT in a disability case. Under DOT’s rules implementing the Air Carrier Access Act, airlines must provide free, prompt wheelchair assistance upon request to passengers with disabilities. This included helping passengers to move between gates and make connections to other flights.
Monday, November 4, 2013:Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced that DOT, as part of its ongoing effort to ensure equal access to air transportation for all travelers, now required airline websites and automated airport kiosks to be accessible to passengers with disabilities. In addition, DOT allowed airlines to choose between stowing wheelchairs in a cabin compartment on new aircraft or strapping them to a row of seats, an option that would ensure that two manual, folding wheelchairs can be transported at a time. The new rules were part of DOT’s continuing implementation of the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986. (See May 7, 2008.)
Tuesday, November 5, 2013:FAA issued a final rule to improve pilot training. The final rule stemmed in part from the tragic crash of Colgan Air 3407 in February 2009, and addressed a Congressional mandate in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 to ensure enhanced pilot training. The rule is one of several rulemakings required by the Act, including the requirements to prevent pilot fatigue that were finalized in December 2011, and the increased qualification requirements for first officers who fly U.S. passenger and cargo planes that were issued on July 15, 2013 (see that date). The final rule required:
- ground and flight training enabling pilots to prevent and recover from aircraft stalls and upsets. These new training standards will impact future simulator standards as well (See December 3, 2014);
- air carriers to use data to track remedial training for pilots with performance deficiencies, such as failing a proficiency check or unsatisfactory performance during flight training;
- training for more effective pilot monitoring;
- enhanced runway safety procedures; and
- expanded crosswind training, including training for wind gusts.
Thursday, November 7, 2013:FAA released its first annual Roadmap outlining efforts needed to safely integrate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the nation’s airspace. The Roadmap outlined the FAA’s approach to ensuring that widespread UAS use is safe, from the perspective of accommodation, integration, and evolution. FAA planned to establish requirements that UAS operators would have to meet to increase access to airspace over the next five to 10 years. The Roadmap discussed items such as new or revised regulations, policies, procedures, guidance material, training and understanding of systems, and operations to support routine UAS operations. (See October 15, 2013; December 30, 2013.)
Tuesday, November 12, 2013:The Justice Department and American Airlines and US Airways settled the lawsuit brought by the Justice Department over the merger of the two airlines. The DOJ filed papers in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia to announce the settlement that avoided a trial scheduled to start November 25. Under the terms of the settlement, American and US Airways would sell 104 takeoff and landing slots at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, 34 slots at La Guardia Airport in New York, and two gates each at Boston’s Logan airport, O’Hare, Dallas Love Field, Los Angeles, and Miami. A judge overseeing American Airlines’ bankruptcy proceeding approved the merger settlement on November 27. The two airlines would continue to operate separately until FAA approved unified operations. (See October 28, 2013; December 7, 2013.)
Thursday, November 14, 2013:FAA certificated the Learjet 75, a light business jet with a maximum range greater than 2,000 nautical miles at cruise speeds up to Mach 0.81. The Learjet 75 aircraft can fly four passengers and two crew members non-stop from Los Angeles to Toronto and Mumbai to Bangkok. Additionally, it will be able to handle a range close to 1,950 nautical miles with eight passengers.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013:In an editorial published in the FAA’s Federal Air Surgeon’s Medical Bulletin, Federal Air Surgeon Fred Tilton said the agency would soon implement a new policy on obstructive sleep apnea. In particular, airmen and air traffic controllers with a body mass index of 40 or more would have to be evaluated by a physician board certified as a sleep specialist. Anyone diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea would then have to undergo treatment before being medically certificated. The policy resulted in growing criticism from the aviation community, and a bill introduced in the House of Representatives that would prevent FAA from implementing new rules pertaining to pilots with sleep apnea without adhering to the normal rulemaking process. On December 20, the Wall Street Journal reported the FAA put the policy on hold, while it worked with aviation stakeholder groups to provide clear guidance on the agency’s plan and that FAA planned to pursue a new approach to help physicians diagnose sleep disorders.
Thursday, November 21, 2013:FAA released a 279-page report that noted, although flying has never been safer, pilot confusion or inattention to cockpit automation has raised concerns in fatal crashes. “Pilots sometimes rely too much on automated systems and may be reluctant to intervene,” the report said. The use of technology for calculations and managing flights “is increasing, including implementations that may result in errors and confusion.” The report made 18 recommendations to improve safety, and the FAA has begun to take action on each one. Beyond the recommendations in the cockpit automation report, FAA Administrator Huerta announced FAA would establish a joint government and industry Air Carrier Training Steering Group early next year to prioritize outstanding recommendations from a variety of sources. He also asked participants at an industry meeting to provide him with the top five focus areas to improve air carrier training. Huerta wanted the new Air Carrier Training Steering Group, comprised of safety experts from the airlines, crew-member unions, government and the aviation community, to consider the recommended focus areas as the first order of business when it convened.
Friday, November 22, 2013:FAA dedicated a new, 236-foot tall air traffic control tower at Oakland International Airport. A $33.2 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant helped pay for constructing the tower and a 14,000-square-foot base building. The grant was the FAA’s largest single ARRA award. The new control tower replaced two air traffic control towers that served Oakland International Airport for more than 40 years. A 158-foot-tall tower on the southern portion of the airfield was built in 1962 as a part of a terminal expansion project. In 1972, construction of a large hangar blocked some views from the south tower, requiring the Port of Oakland to build a second tower to handle traffic on the north runways. The total cost of the new tower, including site preparation, electronics, air traffic control equipment, utilities, and installation of equipment was $51 million. (See October 15, 2010.)
Friday, November 22, 2013:Boeing issued a notice urging carriers to avoid flying 747-8 and 787 Dreamliner planes with engines made by General Electric at high attitude within 50 nautical miles of thunderstorms that may contain ice crystals. The move followed six incidents from April to November involving five 747-8s and one 787 when aircraft powered by GE’s GEnx engines suffered temporary loss of thrust while flying at high altitude. The problem was caused by a build-up of ice crystals, initially just behind the front fan, which ran through the engine, said a GE spokesman, adding that all of the aircraft landed at their planned destinations safely. (See September 30, 2013; November 27, 2013.)
Saturday, November 23, 2013:China declared an “East China Sea Air Identification Zone,” and said unannounced flight in the area would face “defensive emergency measures.” On November 29, the U.S. State Department issued a statement saying U.S. airlines should respect a Chinese order to notify Beijing of flights through international airspace where the country recently claimed jurisdiction.
Monday, November 25, 2013:Officials at Barnes Regional Airport in Westfield, MA, opened a new $13.5 million runway. The project, announced in July with groundbreaking in August, was financed with $8.7 million in federal funds toward the total $20 million job that in addition to the runway includes auxiliary lighting and concrete pads for the F-15 jets.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013:FAA issued an airworthiness directive requiring airlines that operate Boeing 787s and 747s with GE engines steer clear of thunderstorms with clouds more than 60 miles across. The FAA reported it knew of nine instances where ice was sucked into an engine causing it to lose power and that two of those incidents caused engine damage. (See November 22, 2013; March 19, 2014.)
Wednesday, November 27, 2013:President Barack Obama signed the Small Airplane Revitalization Act of 2013 into law. The legislation directed the FAA to issue a final rule to advance the safety and continued development of small airplanes by reorganizing the certification requirements to streamline the approval of safety advancements. It also required the final rule to meet certain consensus-based standards and FAA Part 23 Reorganization Aviation Rulemaking Committee objectives, including: (1) establishment of a regulatory regime for small airplane safety; (2) the establishment of broad, outcome-driven objectives that would spur small plane innovation and technology adoption; (3) the replacement of current, prescriptive requirements under Part 23 with performance-based regulations; and (4) the use of FAA-accepted consensus standards to clarify how Part 23 safety objectives may be met using specific small plane safety designs and technologies.
Friday, November 29, 2013:Evergreen International Airlines, Inc., a cargo airline based in McMinnville, Oregon, ceased operations because of financial difficulties. The airline flew its final flight on December 2, from Travis Air Force Base in California to Victorville, California.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013:Shell announced it had become the first major oil company to develop a lead-free replacement for aviation gasoline (Avgas 100 and 100LL). The formulation was successfully evaluated in industry laboratory engine (bench) tests by Lycoming and in a flight test by Piper. Shell planned to engage the aviation industry, regulators and authorities, including the FAA, American Society for Testing and Materials, and European Aviation Safety Agency to obtain approvals for the unleaded Avgas. Shell also planned to work with other OEMs to continue the testing and refinement program as the approvals process progresses. (See September 13, 2013; September 8, 2014.)
Wednesday, December 4, 2013:Pam Underwood, FAA deputy division manager at Kennedy Space Center, announced that NASA astronauts will fly as “space flight participants” aboard commercial spaceships being developed to taxi crews to and from the international space station. FAA’s definition of crew required them to be employees of the licensee or subcontractor licensee. NASA astronauts are neither, so they will be flying under the category of space flight participant, under current FAA regulations. The ruling did not limit the scope of the work government-employed astronauts could perform aboard commercial space taxis, including piloting the vehicle, aborting launch if necessary, overseeing emergency response, and monitoring and operating environmental controls and life support systems. (See August 14, 2013.)
Saturday, December 7, 2013:A consumer group, concerned that the American Airlines and US Airways merger would lead to increased fares and fewer choices for fliers, filed for an emergency stay to block the merger in a federal appeals court in New York. When the court denied the stay, the group appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg declined to hear the stay request. (See November 12, 2013; December 9, 2013.)
Monday, December 9, 2013:FAA renewed Spaceport America’s license to host suborbital and horizontal rocket launches. The renewal became effective on December 15 and would last through December 15, 2018. (See December 15, 2013.)
Monday, December 9, 2013:American Airlines exited bankruptcy and completed its merger with US Airways. The merged company, with its new stock symbol, AAL, began trading on the NASDAC. (See December 7, 2013; October 20, 2014.)
Tuesday, December 10, 2013:The New York ARTCC became the last of FAA’s three Oceanic Control Areas to implement reduced oceanic separation standards for aircraft that use advanced navigation technology and fly satellite-based routes. To qualify for the standards, planes traveling through the control area had to have:
- FANS-1/A avionics, which enabled controllers to communicate clearances to pilots, pilots to submit requests to controllers, and controllers to track aircraft positions;
- Controller-pilot data link communications, or CPDLC, which streamlined conversations between pilots and controllers via text messages;
- Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Contract, or ADS-C, which reported flight positions to the center within approved timeframes.
- The Ocean21 automation system at the ARTCC collected data from the aircraft’s equipment so controllers knew what each aircraft could do, its location, flight path, and any potential future conflicts. Controllers could then separate qualified pairs of planes by either 30 nautical miles lateral and longitudinal or 50 nautical miles lateral and longitudinal. The 30/30 standard was applied to flights that use a category of navigation known as RNP-4. The 50/50 standard was for plane pairings that use RNP-10. RNP is short for required navigation performance, a term for procedures that used satellites to guide aircraft on more precise flight paths.