Saturday, January 4, 2014:FAA’s new pilot rules (FAR 117) went into effect. Under the new rules, non-cargo pilots must get at least 10 hours of rest between shifts, of which 8 hours must involve uninterrupted sleep. In addition, pilots are only allowed to fly for 8 or 9 hours depending on their start times. (See December 21, 2011.)
Friday, January 10, 2014:Virgin Galactic successfully completed the third rocket-powered supersonic flight of its passenger-carrying reusable space vehicle, SpaceShipTwo. The spacecraft ascended to a record-breaking height of 71,000 feet, at a maximum speed of Mach 1.4. (See April 29, 2013; October 31, 2014.)
Saturday, January 11, 2014:FAA and the Academy of Model Aeronautics signed a memorandum of agreement to work jointly to ensure the continued safe operation of model aircraft in the national airspace system. (See June 19, 2013; January 2014; June 23, 2014.)
Monday, January 13, 2014:Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx appointed 10 new members to the FAA Management Advisory Council (MAC). The new members included: Steve Alterman, president, Cargo Airline Association; Bill Ayer, former chairman, Alaska Air Group; Montie Brewer, former president and CEO, Air Canada; Ray Conner, vice chairman, The Boeing Co., and president and CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes; Craig Fuller, president, the Fuller Co. and former president, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; Jane Garvey, Meridiam Infrastructure/MITRE board member and former FAA administrator; Mayor Michael Hancock, City of Denver, CO.; Lee Moak, president, Air Line Pilots Association; John “Jack” Potter, president and CEO, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority; and, Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO, Space X. Created by the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 1996, the MAC meets quarterly to assess and advise FAA on carrying out its aviation safety and air travel efficiency mission. Panel members serve three-year terms in a volunteer capacity and retain their private sector positions. By law the MAC has 13 members. The new appointments joined the three incumbent council members: Department of Transportation Acting Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez; Department of Defense Brig. Gen. Steven M Shepro; and Paul Rinaldi, president, National Air Traffic Controllers Association. (See July 11, 2001.)
Friday, January 17, 2014:President Barack Obama signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 (PL 113-76), which, among other things, eliminated funding for the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO). FAA had established the office in 2003 under the Vision 100-Century of Aviation legislation that launched the NextGen modernization program. Karlin Toner, who headed the JPDO, became FAA’s Director of Global Strategy within FAA’s Office of Policy, International Affairs, and Environment. In May 2014, FAA created a new interagency office to coordinate federal investment in the NextGen ATC modernization effort following the elimination of the JPDO. FAA said it established an Interagency Planning Office to replace the JPDO under the direction of Gisele Mohler. Consisting of employees from FAA and other federal agencies to replace the JPDO, the office “will plan, identify and prioritize key multi-agency research to drive consensus in the development of investment choices and decisions related to NextGen. Part of its mission is to improve efficiencies, reduce redundancy and ensure compatibility across federal agencies, while pooling resources and investments.” (See February 26, 2010; September 23, 2011.)
Tuesday, January 21, 2014:Per language in the 2014 omnibus spending bill signed by President Obama on January 17, DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration became the new Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014:FAA announced in a Federal Register notice that it had combined two divisions – the Aircraft Engineering division with the Production and Airworthiness division – to create the Design, Manufacturing, and Airworthiness Division within its Office of Aviation Safety. The new group, which assumed the old engineering division’s AIR-100 designation, had five branches: Certification and Procedures, Technical and Administrative Support, Systems and Equipment Standards, Operational Oversight and Policy, and Systems Performance and Development.
Friday, January 31, 2014:FAA down-graded India’s aviation-safety ranking from Category 1 to Category 2 because of safety deficiencies. The Category 2 rating signifies that India’s civil aviation safety oversight regime does not comply with ICAO safety standards. It also prohibits any new Indian carriers from starting service to the U.S. and opens up India’s aircraft to additional inspections from FAA. (See September 20, 2013; January 2014.)
January 2014:Colorado banned the use of drones in hunting and Montana followed suit in February. Idaho and Wisconsin had already included drones in their current prohibitions against the use of aircraft for hunting. (See January 11, 2014; March 7, 2014.)
January 2014:FAA announced that Ethiopia had passed the agency’s five-day-long safety audit, allowing the country to keep its Category 1 safety status. (See January 31, 2014; March 7, 2014.)
Wednesday, February 5, 2014:FAA simplified design approval requirements for a cockpit instrument called an angle of attack (AOA) indicator. AOA devices, common on military and large civil aircraft, can be added to small planes to supplement airspeed indicators and stall warning systems, alerting pilots of a low airspeed condition before a dangerous aerodynamic stall occurs, especially during takeoff and landing. An AOA is the angle between a plane’s wing and the oncoming air. If the angle of attack becomes too great, the wing can stall and lose lift. If a pilot fails to recognize and correct the situation, a stall could lead to loss of control of the aircraft and an abrupt loss of altitude.
Thursday, February 6, 2014:Aviation Partners Boeing announced it had received supplemental type certification (STC) from FAA for split scimitar winglets to be installed on Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The company planned to develop and certify the split scimitar winglet modification for all the Boeing 737-700, -800, and -900 series aircraft, including Boeing Business Jets. On February 19, United Airlines became the first U.S. airline to use the split scimitar winglets on commercial flights. The new winglet design demonstrated significant aircraft drag reduction over the basic blended winglet, which resulted in a 2.5 percent fuel savings. On October 10, the company announced it had received FAA STC covering the installation of the new winglets on three additional configurations of the Boeing 727-800. FAA approved use of the winglets on all Boeing 737-800 and 737-900ER aircraft.
Monday, February 10, 2014:FAA certified Ohana by Hawaiian, Hawaiian Airlines’ new turboprop subsidiary. Ohana planned to enter the inter-island market with flights between Honolulu International Airport and Molokai on March 11 and between Oahu and Lanai on March 18.
Monday, February 10, 2014:Microsoft announced it received FAA authorization for Surface 2 tablets to be used as electronic flight bags. (See June 26, 2013.)
Monday, February 10, 2014:FAA launched a 10-day campaign to recruit air traffic controller trainees. Candidates had to have a high school diploma or three years of work experience. FAA’s Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) program graduates had to reapply under the new program to be considered. All applicants had to pass the normal ATC aptitude test (AT-SAT), as well as a new “biographical” test. In addition, a single vacancy announcement would be used for all applicant sources, and a single nationwide referral list would be generated containing all candidates who met the qualification standards and passed the assessments. Location preferences would no longer be used as a determining factor for referral or selection. Centralized selection panels would no longer be convened to make selection from the referral list. Selection would now be fully automated, grouping candidate by assessment scores and veteran’s preference. FAA notified the 36 CTI schools of the impending change on December 30, 2014, and held a telecom with the schools on January 8, 2014, to discuss the changes. The changes in hiring policy came after FAA released a barrier analysis of air traffic control hiring in April 2013. (See March 7, 2007; April 4, 2010.)
Tuesday, February 11, 2014:FAA issued a final rule prohibiting flightcrew members in operations under Part 121 from using a personal wireless communications device or laptop computer for personal use while at their duty station on the flight deck when the aircraft is being operated. The rule became effective on April 14, 2014. (See October 31, 2013.)
Thursday, February 13, 2014:A federal judge threw out Santa Monica’s lawsuit to wrest control of its airport from the U.S. government. Santa Monica sued in October to free itself from a 1948 agreement that transferred ownership of the property and its 5,000-foot runway back to the city after World War II on the condition that it remain an airport unless the government approved a change in use. The judge ruled that Santa Monica had 12 years under the Quiet Title Act to sue to gain unconditional ownership, but that time has expired by 1960. The judge’s decision threw out another contention that the government’s control of the airport amounted to an illegal taking of municipal property without just compensation. The judge noted that the city failed to first seek compensation in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. On March 25, the Santa Monica City Council voted 6-0 in favor of a plan to take control of the city-owned portion of Santa Monica Airport, and voted to “scale back flight operations, cut the 5,000-foot runway by 2,000 feet, and reduce aviation related services.” The Council was open to repaying a $250,000 grant and prepared for additional legal battles to take control over the site and its use. FAA repeated its position that Santa Monica is required to operate the airport unless the agency grants a change.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014:FAA Administrator Michael Huerta unveiled his four strategic initiatives at a FAA-wide Town Hall event. He noted that while the transformational agenda will span beyond the next four years, he expected to see significant progress toward the vision in that timeframe. The four initiatives were titled: risk-based decision making; the NAS; global leadership; and workforce of the future. (See September 30, 2003.)
Thursday, February 20, 2014:FAA issued a final rule that required helicopter operators, including air ambulances, to have stricter flight rules and procedures, improved communications, training, and additional on-board safety equipment. Under the new rule, all Part 135 helicopter operators were required to:
- Equip their helicopters with radio altimeters.
- Have occupants wear life preservers.
- Equip helicopters with a 406 MHz Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) when a helicopter is operated beyond power-off glide distance from the shore.
- Use higher weather minimums when identifying an alternate airport in a flight plan.
- Require that pilots be tested to handle flat-light, whiteout, and brownout conditions and demonstrate competency in recovery from an inadvertent encounter with instrument meteorological conditions.
- In addition, all air ambulance operators were required to
- Equip with Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems (HTAWS).
- Equip with a flight data monitoring system within four years.
- Establish operations control centers if they are certificate holders with 10 or more helicopter air ambulances.
- Institute pre-flight risk-analysis programs.
- Ensure their pilots-in-command hold an instrument rating.
- Ensure pilots identify and document the highest obstacle along the planned route before departure.
- Comply with Visual Flight Rules (VFR) weather minimums, Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations at airports/heliports without weather reporting, procedures for VFR approaches, and VFR flight planning.
- Conduct the flight using Part 135 weather requirements and flight crew time limitation and rest requirements when medical personnel are on board.
- Conduct safety briefings or training for medical personnel.
- The rule was to be effective on April 22, 2014. On April 17, 2014, FAA extended the deadline to April 22, 2015, after the agency determined the rule’s original effective date did not provide adequate time for affected certificate holders to implement the new requirements. (See October 12, 2010.)
Tuesday, March 4, 2014:FAA issued a final rule that adopted more stringent noise certification standards for helicopters that are certificated in the U.S. The rule applied to applications for a new helicopter type design. It also allowed applicants to upgrade Stage 1 and Stage 2 helicopters to Stage 3 when applying for a supplemental type certificate. A helicopter type-certificated under this standard will be designated as a Stage 3 helicopter. This rule adopts the same noise certification standards for helicopters that exist in ICAO standards. The effective date of the new regulation was May 5, 2014. (September 18, 2013.)
Friday, March 7, 2014:FAA issued a notice appealing a March 6 decision by an NTSB Administrative Law Judge in the civil penalty case Huerta v. Pirker. That decision dismissed a proposed civil penalty for unauthorized use of an UAS. FAA proposed the $10,000 civil penalty in August 2011 against Raphael Pirker for acting as pilot-in-command of a Ritewing Zephyr UAS for compensation without possessing a pilot certificate. FAA further charged that the UAS was operated “in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.” Pirker appealed the decision to NTSB, arguing there is no valid rule in the Federal Aviation Regulations covering model aircraft flight operations. While FAA argued that model aircraft by definition are aircraft, NTSB says such an “interpretive argument would lead to a conclusion that those definitions include as an aircraft all types of devices/contrivances intended for, or used for, flight in the aircraft. The extension of that conclusion would then result in the risible argument that a flight in the air of, e.g., a paper aircraft, or a toy balsa wood glider, could subject the ‘operator’ to the regulatory provisions of FAA Part 91.” FAA appealed the decision of an NTSB Administrative Law Judge to the full NTSB, which has the effect of staying the decision until the Board rules. The agency expressed concern that the decision could impact the safe operation of the NAS and the safety of people and property on the ground. On April 7, FAA filed its Administrator’s Appeal Brief. (See January 2014; November 18, 2014.)
Friday, March 7, 2014:FAA granted the Republic of Azerbaijan a Category 1 rating for aviation safety after an assessment determined it complied with international safety standards set by ICAO. The country previously did not hold an International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) rating and no carrier of Azerbaijan had provided service to the U.S. According to an FAA statement, the Republic of Azerbaijan’s air carriers could now add flights and service to the U.S. and carry the code of U.S. carriers. (See January 2014; April 10, 2014.)
Saturday, March 8, 2014:Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Boeing 777, disappeared en route to Beijing with 239 people on board. On May 1, as the search for the missing plane continued in the Indian Ocean, the Malaysian government issued a preliminary report on the plane’s disappearance. The five-page report included the recordings of communication between the flight-crew and air traffic controllers, which appeared routine. It also noted that it took four hours for the Malaysian search and rescue center to be activated from the time Vietnam told Malaysia the plane was missing.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014:NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman announced she would be leaving the agency on April 24 to become president and CEO of the National Safety Council. March 19, 2014
Thursday, March 20, 2014:FAA issued its second study of general aviation (GA) airports called ASSET 2: In-Depth Review of the 497 Unclassified Airports. The original ASSET study, completed in 2012, categorized nearly 3,000 GA airports into four areas: national, regional, local, and basic. In addition, the study defined the vital and diverse roles small airports play in the national air transportation system. However, 497 airports did not fit into a category under the original study. In January 2013, FAA began working with airport sponsors, state aviation offices, and industry stakeholders to conduct an in-depth review of the unclassified airports to ensure all available information was considered. As a result of that work, FAA placed 212 airports into one of the four categories. The study also discovered four airports closed to the public or no longer serving as active airfields. The remaining 281 airports were unable to meet minimum criteria for an existing category. Although the agency could not determine a federal role for these airports, they will remain in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS as unclassified, and FAA will monitor their activity level and role for possible changes.
Friday, March 21, 2014:FAA extended the expiration date of the prohibition of flight operations within the Tripoli Flight Information Region (FIR) by all U.S. air carriers; U.S. commercial operators; and persons exercising the privileges of an airman certificate issued by FAA, except when such persons are operating a U.S.-registered aircraft for a foreign air carrier. FAA believed the extension of the expiration date to March 21, 2015, was necessary to prevent a potential hazard to persons and aircraft engaged in such flight operations.
Friday, March 21, 2014:FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced that he had selected acting ATO COO Teri Bristol as the new ATO COO. Prior to this appointment she had served as deputy COO; vice president for technical operation services; vice president for the service center; director of terminal mission support; director of terminal operations for the western service area; and the director of terminal program operations. (See August 13, 2013.)
Friday, March 21, 2014:FAA and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) announced an agreement for the next nine years under which FAA would provide, as it had in past years, air traffic control and other personnel for AirVenture, with the EAA covering the cost of travel, accommodations, and other expenses for air traffic control personnel.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014:NTSB cautioned airline pilots to exercise vigilance in the approach phase of a flight to avoid “potentially catastrophic mistakes.” The safety alert came after wrong-airport landings by Southwest Airlines in January and Atlas Air in November 2013.
Thursday, March 27, 2014:Facebook announced it had purchased Ascenta, a U.K.-based aerospace company for $20 million to help deliver the Internet to underserved areas by building drones, satellites, and lasers. On April 14, Google announced it had purchased Titan Aerospace, a New Mexico company that manufactured high-altitude drones.
Friday, March 28, 2014:FAA published a revised version of AC No: 20-138D that clarified and added new guidance material to the airworthiness approval process for a variety of GPS systems, including augmented GPS and RNAV equipment for required navigation performance (RNP) operations and baro-Vnav equipment. Several changes covered: the differences between equipment capability and installed limitations; clarification of the database configuration and equipment capability; adding step-down fixes to navigation databases; and a new appendix for demonstrating radius to fix (RF) leg capability and RNP prediction guidance for RNP authorization-required approaches.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014:FAA dedicated its new air traffic control facility at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas. The 47,500-square-foot terminal radar approach control (TRACON) facility replaced an outdated structure commissioned more than 40 years ago.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014:The Supreme Court ruled unanimously “an airline had the right to dump a frequent flier who complained too much.” The Court said airlines “have sole discretion to drop frequent fliers.” The case “involved Rabbi Binyomin Ginsberg, who was ousted from Northwest Airlines’ WorldPerks loyalty program for complaining too often about getting bumped from flights and repeatedly seeking compensation the airline considered unfair.” The airline argued that frequent-flier programs “operate at the sole discretion of the airline,” and that airlines “can’t tailor their programs to a patchwork of consumer laws in 50 states.” Writing for the court in overturning the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Samuel Alito said “that travelers have protection from being mistreated because they could sue for possible breach of contract, just not for covenants that Ginsberg had argued were implied by participating in a loyalty program.”
Thursday, April 3, 2014:FAA began using “climb via” phraseology for route transitions and/or the assignment of area navigation (RNAV) standard instrument departure (SID) procedures containing speed and altitude restrictions. These new and revised air traffic procedures were the result of a collaborative effort between the ATO, Flight Standards, NATCA, and industry stakeholders. Concurrent with climb via, FAA also implemented expanded guidance on speed adjustment phraseology. FAA implemented the new phraseology in FAA Order 7110.65V.
Thursday, April 10, 2014:FAA reinstated a Category 1 rating to the Republic of the Philippines following the agency’s determination in March that the country met international safety standards set by ICAO. The country held a Category 1 rating until January 2008 when FAA downgraded it to a Category 2 because of its failure to meet certain safety criteria. (See March 7, 2014; June 27, 2014.)
Monday, April 14, 2014:FAA issued a final rule prohibiting flightcrew members in operations under Part 121 from using a personal wireless communications device or laptop computer for personal use while at their duty station on the flight deck while operating the aircraft.
Monday, April 14, 2014:FAA announced the nationwide installation of the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) radio network that supported a satellite-based surveillance system that tracks aircraft with the help of GPS. Of the 230 air traffic facilities across the country, 100 were using the system to separate traffic. FAA expects to be connected and operating at all 230 facilities by 2019. By January 1, 2020, all aircraft operating in controlled airspace will be required to be equipped with ADS-B Out avionics that broadcast the plane’s location. (See June 9, 2013.)
Tuesday, April 15, 2014:American Airlines Group and American Eagle Airlines’ management changed the name of American Eagle Airlines to Envoy Air Inc. to differentiate the airline from other regional airlines flying as American Eagle.
Monday, April 21, 2014:FAA announced that the first of six test sites chosen to perform UAS research was operational more than 2 ½ months ahead of the deadline specified for the program by Congress. FAA granted the North Dakota Department of Commerce team a certificate of waiver or authorization (COA) to begin using a Draganflyer X4ES small UAS at its Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site. The COA will be effective for two years. The team planned to begin flight operations during the week of May 5. (See December 30, 2013; May 5, 2014.)
Monday, April 21, 2014:EquuSearch, a nonprofit organization that uses drones to search for missing persons, filed a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia asserting that an FAA inspector had wrongly ordered it in a February 2014 email correspondence to cease and desist search and rescue operations using its UAS. On July 18, a three-judge panel for a federal appeals court dismissed the lawsuit. In its ruling, the court said it could not review the case because the email Texas EquuSearch had received did not represent FAA’s final conclusion on the use of drones. Final rules on drone use were not expected until 2015.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014:Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis announced the designation of the 1956 Grand Canyon TWA-United Airlines Aviation Accident Site, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, as a national historic landmark. The designation may be the first landmark to commemorate something that happened exclusively in the air. On June 30, 1956, a Trans World Airlines Super Constellation L-1049 and a United Airlines DC-7 collided in uncongested airspace 21,000 feet over the Grand Canyon in Arizona, killing all 128 people onboard the two flights. The tragedy spurred an unprecedented effort to modernize and increase safety in America’s postwar airways, culminating in the establishment of the Federal Aviation Agency. (See June 30, 1956.)
Thursday, April 24, 2014:FAA issued a Federal Register notice seeking public comment on a proposed policy change to protect airspace for emergency operations when an aircraft engine fails during departure. Aircraft operators must plan for the potential of an engine failure (one engine inoperative, or OEI) during take-off in accordance with 14 CFR Parts 25, 121, and 135. An engine failure could prevent the aircraft from climbing at the normal climb rate and structures near an airport could, under such circumstances, create a safety risk. The agency evaluated certain airport clear zones assuming both engines are operating. The proposal wants to consider a common departure path for all aircraft in the event of a power failure. The 60-day comment period on the new policy closed on June 24, 2014.
Friday, April 25, 2014:FAA issued a Special FAR (SFAR) prohibiting “certain flight operations” in a portion of the Simferopol FIR by all U.S. airlines and commercial operators, and, with few exceptions, those with a U.S. airman certificate and operators of U.S.-registered civil aircraft. This prohibited area includes sovereign Ukrainian airspace over the Crimean Peninsula and the associated Ukrainian territorial sea, as well as international airspace managed by Ukraine over the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The SFAR will remain in effect for one year. FAA said the rule was prompted by the Russian Federation’s issuance of a NOTAM on March 28 “purporting to establish unilaterally a new FIR, effective April 3, 2014, in a significant portion of the Simferopol (UKFV) FIR,” following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. (See July 17, 2014.)
Wednesday, April 30, 2014:FAA issued a ground stop, stopping takeoffs at Southern California airports as a result of a problem with its en route automation modernization computer system at the Los Angeles ARTCC. The ground stop, lasting approximately one hour, led to the cancellation or delay of hundreds of flights. On May 5, both DOD and FAA said a U2 plane in the area created the computer problem. The ERAM system interpreted the U2 flight, flying at about 60,000 feet, as a more typical low-altitude operation, and began processing it for a route below 10,000 feet. The extensive number of routings that would have been required to de-conflict the aircraft with lower-altitude flights used a large amount of available memory and interrupted the computer’s other flight-processing functions. FAA subsequently increased the amount of flight-processing memory on the computer system. (June 18, 2012.)
Monday, May 5, 2014:FAA announced the University of Alaska’s UAS test site was the second of six to become operational. FAA granted the University of Alaska Fairbanks a COA authorizing flights by an Aeryon Scout small UAS for animal surveys at its Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range Complex in Fairbanks. The COA was effective for two years. The team began the wildlife flight operations on this date. (See April 21, 2014; June 9, 2014.)
Friday, May 9, 2014:FAA issued a special security NOTAM advising that due to terrorist activities and civil unrest in Yemen, there was a significant risk to civil flight operations in that country. FAA warned that “terrorists and insurgents in the region possess man-portable air defense systems (manpads) and indirect fire weapons, and have threatened and targeted both international civil aviation and airports in country, most notably, Sanaa International airport (OYSN). U.S. operators planning to fly in the territory and airspace of Yemen at or below Fl240 must obtain current threat information, comply with all applicable FAA regulations and directives, and provide advance notice to FAA” with specific flight details.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014:Smoke resulting from a burning electrical motor at the TRACON in Elgin, Illinois, resulted in an evacuation of the facility, causing more than 1,000 flights to be cancelled at O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport. FAA stopped flights in and out of the two airports for approximately four hours.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014:FAA approved extended operations for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, allowing the plane to fly for up to 330 minutes (5.5 hours) away from an airport rather than the previous 180 minutes. FAA’s approval allowed new routings, such as nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Melbourne. It also allowed the longer-range version of the 787, called the 787-9, to fly polar routes. (See March 19, 2014; December 2, 2014.)
Wednesday, May 28, 2014:FAA and Virgin Galactic signed an agreement that set the parameters for how routine space missions launched from Spaceport America would be integrated into the NAS. In particular, the agreement spelled out how FAA’s Albuquerque ARTCC and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority would work with Virgin Galactic to safely provide clear airspace for SpaceShipTwo. (See January 10, 2014; October 31, 2014.)
Monday, June 9, 2014:FAA announced that the State of Nevada’s UAS test site was ready to conduct research vital to integrating UAS into the nation’s airspace. Nevada was the third of six congressionally mandated test sites to become operational. FAA granted the State of Nevada team a two-year COA to use an Insitu ScanEagle at the Desert Rock Airport located in Mercury, Nevada. Desert Rock Airport, owned and operated by the Department of Energy, is a private airport and not for general use. The ScanEagle would fly at or below 3,000 feet, monitored by a visual observer and mission commander. Nevada’s research concentrated on UAS standards and operations as well as operator standards and certification requirements. The site’s activities also included a concentrated look at how air traffic control procedures would evolve with the introduction of UAS into the civil environment and how those aircraft would integrate with NextGen. (See May 5, 2014; June 20, 2014.)
Tuesday, June 10, 2014:FAA gave approval for energy corporation BP and UAS manufacturer AeroVironment to fly an AeroVironment Puma AE for aerial surveys in Alaska – the first time FAA had authorized a commercial UAS operation over land. FAA issued a COA to survey BP pipelines, roads, and equipment at Prudhoe Bay, Arkansas, the largest U.S. oilfield. (See June 9, 2014; June 20, 2014.)
Friday, June 20, 2014:National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis signed a policy memorandum directing all national park superintendents to write rules barring the launching, landing, or operation of drones. Unmanned aircraft had already been prohibited at several national parks. Those parks initiated bans after noise and nuisance complaints from park visitors, an incident in which park wildlife were harassed, and concerns about the safety of park visitors. (See June 10, 2014; June 20, 2014.)
Friday, June 20, 2014:FAA granted the Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi team a two-year COA to use an AAAI RS-16 UAS. The RS-16 weighs approximately 85 pounds and has a wingspan of almost 13 feet. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s research concentrated on multiple areas, including safety of operations and data gathering in authorized airspace, UAS airworthiness standards, command and control link technologies, human-factors issues for UAS control-station layout, and detect-and-avoid technologies. The site was the fourth of six to become operational. (See June 9, 2014; June 20, 2014; August 7, 2014.)
Monday, June 23, 2014:FAA published a notice in the Federal Register on its interpretation of the statutory special rules for model aircraft in FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The guidance comes after recent incidents involving the reckless use of unmanned model aircraft near airports and involving large crowds of people. FAA restated the law’s definition of “model aircraft,” including requirements that they not interfere with manned aircraft, be flown within sight of the operator, and be operated only for hobby or recreational purposes. The agency also explained that model aircraft operators flying within five miles of an airport must notify the airport operator and air traffic control tower. FAA may take enforcement action against model aircraft operators who operate their aircraft in a manner that endangers the safety of the NAS. In the notice, FAA explained that this enforcement authority is designed to protect users of the airspace as well as people and property on the ground. FAA reaffirmed that the Act’s model aircraft provisions apply only to hobby or recreation operations and do not authorize the use of model aircraft for commercial operations. The notice gives examples of hobby or recreation flights, as well as examples of operations that would not meet that definition. (See January 11, 2014.)
Tuesday, June 24, 2014:A strike by one of France’s air traffic controller unions, UNSA-INCA, forced the cancellation of flights throughout Europe. The controllers union SNCTA did not join in the strike, which was scheduled to last through June 29. UNSA-INCA accused the French government of a lack of investment in ATC infrastructure and urged modernization of the system.
Thursday, June 26, 2014:FAA certified the Instant Eye small unmanned aerial system, which will be used by an energy company to conduct research, development, and training to see if the system is practical for inspecting infrastructure such as pipelines, power lines, and insulators on towers. It was the first unmanned quadrotor to receive FAA certification and might be the lightest aircraft ever certified. Physical Sciences Incorporated developed Instant Eye with funding from the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), the Army Research Laboratory, and the Department of Defense’s newly renamed Emerging Capabilities and Prototyping Office. (See June 20, 2014; August 7, 2014.)
Friday, June 27, 2014:FAA announced that the Republic of Serbia complied with ICAO safety standards and had been granted a Category 1 rating. The Republic of Serbia has held a Category 2 rating since 2006. A Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, or inspection procedures. The Category 1 status was based on a March 2014 FAA assessment of the safety oversight provided by the Civil Aviation Directorate of the Republic of Serbia and an FAA verification of necessary corrective actions during a follow-up visit to the Republic of Serbia this month. With the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Category 1 rating, the Republic of Serbia’s air carriers, which are able to secure the requisite FAA and DOT authority, can establish service to the U.S. and carry the code of U.S. carriers. (See April 10, 2014.)
Wednesday, July 2, 2014:NTSB denied a petition for reconsideration of its findings in the investigation of the 1996 TWA Flight 800 crash. The TWA 800 Project, which filed the petition, claimed that a detonation or high-velocity explosion could have caused the crash. NTSB said the crash was the result of an oxygen buildup in a partially empty fuel tank that caused an explosion that destroyed the plane in flight.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014:Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a final rule that expanded the Department of Transportation’s requirement that air carriers report to the Department incidents involving the loss, injury, or death of an animal during air transport. The revised rule required, for the first time, all covered carriers file a calendar year report that includes the total number of animals transported in the calendar year as well as the total number of animals that were lost, injured, or died during air transport in the calendar year, if any. The rule becomes effective on January 1, 2015.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014:Embry-Riddle announced it had become the first school to receive approval from FAA for its airline transport pilot (ATP) certification training program. Under a rule, effective August 1, 2014, FAA will require all airline pilots to complete an ATP certification training program to qualify to take the ATP airman knowledge test, a prerequisite for employment as a commercial airline pilot in the U.S.
Monday, July 14, 2014:NASA transferred to FAA a new NextGen software technology, called terminal sequence and spacing, that allows air traffic controllers to maximize the benefits of performance based navigation (PBN) procedures on the approach to the runway. With the new technology, controllers see circles – called slot markers – on their display screens that indicate where an aircraft should be to fly an RNAV or RNP route. This software enables the use of PBN procedures to become more routine, requiring less vectoring, fewer level-offs of aircraft, and less communication between controllers and pilots. FAA, which received an initial technology transfer of Terminal Sequence and Spacing from NASA in September 2013, will make a full investment decision by the end of the year through its Joint Resources Council, a team of top agency executives that reviews major acquisitions and approves funding.
Thursday, July 17, 2014:FAA issued a NOTAM prohibiting, until further notice, U.S. flight operations in the airspace over eastern Ukraine because of recent events and the potential for continued hazardous activities. A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flying over the Ukraine had been shot down earlier in the day with a suspected surface-to-air missile, with the loss of all 290 people onboard. The restricted area included the entire Simferopol and Dnepropetrovsk FIRs. This action expanded a prohibition of U.S. flight operations issued by FAA in April over the Crimean region of Ukraine and adjacent areas of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. No scheduled U.S. airlines flew routes through this airspace. (See April 15, 2014; December 29, 2014.)
Tuesday, July 22, 2014:In a NOTAM issued at 12:15 EDT, FAA prohibited U.S. airlines from flying to or from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport for a period of up to 24 hours. FAA issued the notice in response to a rocket strike which landed approximately one mile from the airport on the morning of July 22, 2014. The order, which affected 12 U.S. flights per day, was issued to reduce the chance of air travelers becoming casualties in the war between Israel and Hamas. FAA extended the ban for an additional 24 hours on July 23, but later cancelled the notice at 11:45 p.m. EDT.
Thursday, July 24, 2014:An Air Algerie MD-83 en route from Burkina Faso to Algeria crashed in Mali. All 116 persons on board died in the crash.
Monday, August 4, 2014:DOT issued new standards to strengthen safety conditions for the shipment of lithium cells and batteries. These changes, some of which focus specifically on shipments by air, will better ensure that lithium cells and batteries are able to withstand normal transportation conditions and are packaged to reduce the possibility of damage that could lead to an unsafe situation. The rule, which became final six months after DOT issued the notice of proposed rulemaking:
- Enhanced packaging and hazard communication requirements for lithium batteries transported by air.
- Replaced equivalent lithium content with watt-hours for lithium ion cells and batteries,
- Adopted separate shipping descriptions for lithium metal batteries and lithium ion batteries.
- Revised provisions for the transport of small and medium lithium cells and batteries including cells and batteries packed with, or contained in, equipment.
- Revised the requirements for the transport of lithium batteries for disposal or recycling.
- Harmonized the provisions for the transport of low production and prototype lithium cells and batteries with the ICAO Technical Instructions and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code.
- Adopted new provisions for the transport of damaged, defective, and recalled lithium batteries.
Thursday, August 7, 2014:FAA announced that the Griffiss International Airport UAS test site in Rome, New York, was ready to conduct research vital to integrating UAS into the NAS. The site is the fifth of six test sites to become operational. In addition to providing invaluable information for the integration of UAS into the NAS, the research at the Griffiss test site will evaluate methods for scouting agricultural fields using different types of sensors, including visual, thermal, and multispectral equipment, which will benefit farmers regionally and nationally. The research will enhance current methods of monitoring crops and provide additional information for continuing field research efforts. (See June 26, 2014; August 13, 2014.)
Friday, August 8, 2014:FAA issued a new NOTAM, restricting U.S. operators from flying in the airspace above Iraq because of the hazardous situation created by the armed conflict. The new NOTAM superseded previous FAA guidance for this airspace.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014:FAA issued a no-fly zone over Ferguson, Missouri, to last until August 18, after tensions escalated in the town following the fatal shooting of an unarmed teen over the weekend. The agency restricted the airspace above the St. Louis suburb to provide a safe environment for law enforcement activities. Only operations under the direction of Missouri could be carried out. On August 18, FAA renewed the ban on aircraft from operating under 3,000 feet through August 25; however, FAA lifted the ban on August 22.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014:FAA issued a final rule allowing the agency to deny an application for a new repair station certificate if the applicant or certain associated key individuals had materially contributed to the circumstances that caused a previous repair station certificate revocation action. The rule also added a new section prohibiting fraudulent or intentionally false entries or omissions of material facts in any application, record, or report made under the repair station rules, and provided that making the fraudulent or intentionally false entry or omitting or concealing the material fact was grounds for imposing a civil penalty and for suspending or revoking any certificate, approval, or authorization issued by FAA to the person who made or caused the entry or omission. (February 12, 2013.)
Wednesday, August 13, 2014:FAA announced that the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University’s UAS test site program was ready to conduct research vital to integrating UAS into the nation’s airspace. The site is the last of six nationwide to be declared operational. FAA granted Virginia Tech seven COAs for two years. They were for Smart Road Flyer, eSPAARO, Aeryon Sky Ranger, MANTRA2, Sig Rascal, and two AVID EDF-8 micro UAS. (See August 7, 2014; August 31, 2014.)
Wednesday, August 13, 2014:FAA issued a legal opinion ruling against peer-to-peer general aviation flight-sharing Internet-based operations that allowed private pilots to offer available space on flights they intended to take. AirPooler, Inc., had asked FAA for an interpretation of the regulations seeking to confirm that a pilot participating in the AirPooler service would not be receiving compensation as prohibited by FAR 61.113, and whether pilots participating in AirPooler were commercial operators and thus required to hold a certificate under Part 119. FAA stated that arranging for flights and passengers through the AirPooler website met all elements of common carriage and were not legal under Part 91. FAA noted that its position forbidding website-based ride-sharing operations was consistent with rulings it had made previously on nationwide initiatives involving expense-sharing flights. Ride-sharing programs were offered by both AirPooler and Flytenow, both of which argued that FAA has overstepped its bounds in the interpretation.
Monday, August 18, 2014:The World Health Organization urged countries affected by Ebola (Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea) to conduct exit screening at international airports, seaports, and land crossings. The recommendation came from a task force that included health officials, ICAO, the International Air Transport Association representing 240 airlines, and Airports Council International. (See October 11, 2014.)
Monday, August 18, 2014:FAA issued a NOTAM restricting U.S. operators from flying in the Damascus Flight Information Region, which included all of Syria. This replaced the NOTAM then in place that strongly advised U.S. operators against flying in that airspace and required them to contact FAA before operating in that airspace. Because of the presence of anti-aircraft weapons among the extremist groups and ongoing fighting in various locations throughout Syria, there was a continuing significant potential threat to civil aviation operating in Syrian airspace. (See December 30, 2014.)
Sunday, August 24, 2014:A magnitude 6.0 earthquake caused damage in Northern California. The quake, the largest in the Bay Area since the deadly Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, struck three miles northwest of American Canyon. Most of the windows were blown out of the air traffic control tower at the Napa County Airport. The structure was unusable and the Oakland ARTCC took over control of the airspace. FAA sent two temporary towers to the airport – one began operations on August 28 and the other was delivered on September 4. (See October 17, 1989.)
Sunday, August 31, 2014:For the first time, FAA permitted the first UAS/drone technology demonstration at a national air show at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio. The demonstration featured 10 drones, both fixed-wing and multi-rotors flying simultaneously. (See August 13, 2014; September 10, 2014.)
Monday, September 8, 2014:FAA announced the selection of four unleaded fuels for further evaluation as part of the piston aviation fuels initiative (PAFI), a government and industry initiative designed to help the general aviation industry transition to an unleaded aviation gasoline. Shell and TOTAL, with one fuel each, and Swift Fuels, with two fuels, worked with FAA on Phase 1 testing, which began in fall 2014 and was scheduled to conclude in fall 2015. Based on the results of the Phase 1 laboratory and rig testing, FAA anticipated the selection of two or three fuels for Phase 2 engine and aircraft testing. That testing will generate standardized qualification and certification data for candidate fuels, along with property and performance data. FAA expects the testing process to conclude in 2018. (See June 10, 2013.)
Wednesday, September 10, 2014:FAA approved an emergency COA for the use of an UAS in the search for a missing woman near Dallas, Texas. The agency approves emergency COAs for natural disaster relief, search and rescue operations, and other urgent circumstances. Under the Emergency COA, Texas EquuSearch could operate its aircraft from September 11 until sunset September 15. FAA issued the COA to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of Gaithersburg, Maryland, at the request of the Plano Police Department. NIST had a previously existing relationship with Texas EquuSearch, a nonprofit organization that assists with locating missing individuals. (See August 31, 2014; September 25, 2014.)
Monday, September 15, 2014:FAA put into place a new certification process, detailed in a standard operating procedure document. Under the new process, FAA would permit complex projects to move forward even if the agency may have to push off certain aspects until resources become available. FAA would also weigh the availability of designees – company-provided resources approved to verify that projects are done per FAA’s requirements – as it sequences projects. Under the guidelines, FAA resources will be allocated based on a project index. The highest weight would be given to a project’s safety index (SI), which factors in overall safety, passenger safety, and fleet size. SI – and the entire sequencing system – was weighted so that airworthiness directives are top priority. Applications also were judged based on the number of “findings” they contain and how many must be handled by FAA staff versus organizational designees. (See December 11, 2013.)
Tuesday, September 16, 2014:FAA released the “Recommended Practices for Human Space Flight Occupant Safety” report, which provided a framework for industry to use in developing consensus standards. The recommended safety practices were broadly written and primarily performance-based, stating a safety objective to be achieved, and leaving the design or operational solution up to the designer or operator. In developing the document, FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation reviewed existing government and private sector requirements and standards to tap into the wealth of information that has been accrued through 50 years of human space flight. FAA also consulted with a wide audience, including the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, FAA’s Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, and FAA’s Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation. (July 31, 2013.)
Tuesday, September 16, 2014:NASA awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. The two companies planned to begin ferrying astronauts in 2017. (See May 22, 2012; October 31, 2014.)
Wednesday, September 17, 2014:FAA approved a space launch site license for Midland International Airport in Texas. Renamed the Midland International Air & Space Port, the airport was the first primary commercial airport to gain FAA certification as a spaceport. It was the ninth commercial spaceport license issued by FAA. (See September 30, 2010.)
Friday, September 19, 2014:Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport opened a new runway. The project, which cost $826 million, gave the airport two parallel runways to accommodate more flights and reduce delays.
Thursday, September 25, 2014:Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced FAA had granted regulatory exemptions to six aerial photo and video production companies in a first step to allowing the film and television industry to use UAS in the NAS. FAA determined that the UAS to be used in the proposed operations did not need an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness based on a finding they did not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security. (See September 10, 2014; December 10, 2014.)
Thursday, September 25, 2014:FAA evacuated its Chicago ARTCC in Aurora, Illinois, just before 6:00 a.m. local time, because of a fire reported in a basement telecommunications room. FAA managed traffic through adjacent high-altitude radar centers in Cleveland, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and Minneapolis. Those facilities worked with the TRACON facility in Elgin, Illinois, and other surrounding large TRACONs in areas such as South Bend, Indiana, Rockford and Moline Illinois, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to track flights on radar and manage departures and arrivals in Chicago ARTCC airspace. FAA re-routed overflights around the airspace. FAA brought in a clean-up crew at the ARTCC to begin drying out water-damaged equipment and to clean and sanitize the area after a fire and attempted suicide in the telecommunications room. After inspecting the damaged equipment, FAA decided to replace the central communications network in a different part of the same building to restore the system as quickly as possible. The agency restored services at the Chicago ARTCC on October 13. (See November 24, 2014.)
Tuesday, September 30, 2014:FAA issued an updated version of its AIP Program Handbook (Order 5100.38D). FAA’s Office of Airports streamlined the handbook and replaced guidance with references to more appropriate source of guidance (such as in other orders or advisory circulars). This included deleting guidance on airport planning, capital planning, labor rates, and civil rights. The references appear as the basic publication number without any suffix. The intent is for the reader to use the latest version of the referenced publication. It also has been reorganized and revised to incorporate the Plain Language Act of 2010; to differentiate what is required by law and policy; and to incorporate program guidance letters issued prior to July 30, 2012.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014:DIGITALiBiz announced it had been awarded a prime contract to continue supporting FAA’s Flight Standards Service (AFS) Flight Technologies and Procedures Division under a contract called Technical, Engineering, Administrative, and Programmatic Support. The scope of work under the contract, valued at nearly $45 million over the next five years, included: providing support in developing policies and procedures for improving flight safety and efficiency; assisting in developing regulations and policy recommendations governing instrument flight procedures and safety, capacity, and efficiency improvements based on advanced technology and innovative concepts; and supporting flight test or simulator test programs, simulator setup, pilot briefings, and observer responsibilities specifically for data collection in support of test plans.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014:Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. announced that its flagship Gulfstream G650ER has been certified by FAA. The G650ER can travel 7,500 nautical miles/13,890 kilometers at Mach 0.85 and 6,400 nm/11,853 km at Mach 0.90. This represented an increase of up to 500 nm/926 km over the range of the G650, which entered service in 2012. Like the G650, the G650ER has a maximum speed of Mach 0.925. Gulfstream expects to deliver the first fully outfitted G650ER business jets to customers ahead of the projected 2015 delivery date.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014:FAA and the NextGen Advisory Committee agreed on the NextGen Priorities Joint Implementation Plan that would accelerate the delivery of key NextGen initiatives over the next three years. FAA delivered the plan to Congress on October 17. According to the plan, FAA will institute new NextGen procedures through the use of multiple runway operations at 36 airports nationwide and deploy satellite-based navigation procedures known as performance based navigation (PBN) at three key metropolitan areas – Northern California, Atlanta, and Charlotte – to provide more direct flight paths; improve airport arrival rates; enhance controller productivity; increase safety and fuel savings; and reduce aviation’s environmental impact. The plan also calls for FAA to increase surface operations data-sharing to increase predictability and provide actionable and measurable surface efficiency improvements at the nation’s airports. In addition, FAA will prioritize its work on data communications services, which will upgrade communication between pilots, air traffic controllers, and airline operations centers from voice to digital. (See March 2010; October 17, 2014.)
Saturday, October 11, 2014:The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security began Ebola screening passengers from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Enhanced screening began at Washington Dulles, Newark, Chicago O’Hare, and Atlanta International airports on October 14. CDC sent additional staff to each of the five airports. After passport review:
- Travelers from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone will be escorted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to an area of the airport set aside for screening.
- Trained CBP staff will observe them for signs of illness, ask them a series of health and exposure questions, and provide health information for Ebola as well as reminders to monitor themselves for symptoms. Trained medical staff will take their temperature with a non-contact thermometer.
- If the travelers have fever or symptoms, or the health questionnaire reveals possible Ebola exposure, they will be evaluated by a CDC quarantine station public health officer. The public health officer will again take a temperature reading and make a public health assessment. Travelers, who after this assessment, are determined to require further evaluation or monitoring will be referred to the appropriate public health authority.
- Travelers from these countries who have neither symptoms/fever nor a known history of exposure will receive health information for self-monitoring. (See August 18, 2014; October 11, 2014.)