FAA HISTORICAL CHRONOLOGY, 1980-1996
Jan 1, 1980: Effective this date, Administrator Langhorne Bond established the lead region concept under which designated Federal Aviation Administration regions assumed certain responsibilities on a nationwide basis.
Jan 7, 1980: John F. Leyden resigned as president of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Association (PATCO) after a bitter struggle for control of the organization with Robert E. Poli, a regional vice president. Both Poli and Leyden had submitted their resignations to the PATCO board, but the board accepted only Leyden's resignation. Leyden resigned effective Feb 1, and Poli became interim president on that day. Poli subsequently was elected to a three-year term on Apr 24.
Jan 7, 1980: Pan American World Airways signed a merger agreement with National Airlines, which formally ceased to exist on Oct 26. (The defunct carrier's name was revived on May 15, 1994, when Private Jet Expeditions began using the designation National Airlines.) The merger with National gave Pan American a long-sought domestic system to feed its international routes.
Jan 25, 1980: Armed with a pistol and pretending to have a bomb, a hijacker who identified himself as a Black Muslim diverted a Delta Airlines L-1011 to Cuba. He demanded to be flown to Iran, but eventually surrendered to Cuban authorities. This was the first U.S. air carrier hijacking in which real weapons or high explosives passed through the passenger screening system since the implementation of strict new airport security measures on Dec 5, 1972.
Mar 27, 1980: The Boeing Company revealed plans for flight decks accommodating two-member crews for the fuel-efficient new generation 757 and 767 twin-engine jets. The new decks would include an engine indicating and crew alerting system (EICAS) to centralize all engine displays and provide automatic monitoring of engine operation.
Apr 15, 1980: PATCO distributed to its members an “educational package” that many in FAA considered a “strike plan.” The materials provided: information on how to establish communications networks and committees on security, welfare, and picketing; recommendations for a variety of financial preparations in case of the loss of wages during a job action; and advice to local PATCO organizations to make arrangements for bail bondsman and for other legal services.
May 18, 1980: Washington state's Mt. St. Helens erupted, destroying over 100 square miles of timber and leaving at least 61 persons dead or missing. Ash from the volcano caused widespread disruption, but did not close FAA facilities in the area. The agency informed airmen of the location of the volcanic cloud, which damaged several aircraft, and issued a maintenance checklist for planes that had entered suspected areas. FAA also set up a mobile air traffic control tower to assist military missions of reconnaissance, search, and rescue. Interest in the threat of volcanoes to aircraft increased in 1982, when two Boeing 747s lost all engine thrust temporarily as they encountered ash from an Indonesian volcano.
Aug 15, 1980: PATCO-affiliated controllers at O'Hare International Airport conducted a one-day traffic slowdown that caused 616 delays of 30 minutes or more and cost air carriers more than $1 million in wasted fuel. The slowdown followed FAA's turning down a demand by O'Hare controllers for an annual tax-free bonus of $7,500.
Aug 26, 1980: FAA type-certificated the McDonnell Douglas DC-9-80 for operation with a two-pilot crew. The Air Line Pilots Association challenged the certification in a law suit, ultimately without success, and picketed the White House in October to protest FAA's position.
Oct 20, 1980: Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan wrote to PATCO president Robert E. Poli, saying: "You can rest assured that if I am elected President, I will take whatever steps are necessary to provide our air traffic controllers with the most modern equipment available and to adjust staff levels and work days so that they are commensurate with achieving a maximum degree of public safety." On Oct 23, the PATCO executive board endorsed Reagan for President. At the same time, the union charged President Carter with ignoring serious safety problems that jeopardized the nation's air traffic control system.
Dec 15, 1980: A U.S. District Court judge in Illinois, dismissed a court action brought by FAA against PATCO and its Chicago O'Hare Local No. 316 for a slowdown which had begun on Aug 15, 1980 (see that date). On Aug 17, FAA had brought suit for a preliminary and permanent injunction against the controllers. The following day, a U.S. District Court judge had issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting PATCO and its O'Hare affiliate from taking part "in any work stoppage or slowdown." Subsequently, FAA pressed its plea for permanent injunctive relief. In ruling that the case was not properly before his court, the judge held that a slowdown was an unfair labor practice and that Title VII of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 gave original jurisdiction in such controversies to the Federal Labor Relations Authority, not to U.S. district courts.
Dec 19, 1980: New York Air began operations, competing against Eastern Air Lines' Washington-New York shuttle. The new, non-union regional carrier was a creation of Texas Air, a holding company created by Frank Lorenzo in 1980. Texas Air also owned Texas International Airlines, which Lorenzo had headed since 1972.
Dec 29, 1980: The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) organized a "public awareness" campaign called Operation USA (Unity for Safe Airtravel). Shortly thereafter, the union threatened a general one-day work stoppage in March unless the President appointed a panel of independent experts to examine the question of crew complement. On Mar 5, 1981, President Reagan appointed a three-man task force headed by former FAA Administrator John L. McLucas to review FAA's certification of the DC-9-80 for operation with a minimum cockpit crew of two pilots. On Jul 2, the task force reported that the certification was proper and that a third crew member was not be justified in the interest of safety. The board also noted that safe operation by a two-pilot crew would be permitted by the designs of Boeing's new 757 and 767 aircraft, and of the A-310 aircraft being developed by the European consortium, Airbus Industrie. On Jul 14, ALPA's executive board voted unanimously to accept the findings of the task force.
Jan 20, 1981: Ronald Reagan became President, succeeding Jimmy Carter. The resignations of Langhorne M. Bond as FAA Administrator and Quentin S. Tayor as Deputy Administrator became effective, although Taylor accepted another post with FAA. Charles E. Weithoner, Associate Administrator for Administration, became Acting Administrator.
Jan 23, 1981: Drew Lewis became Secretary of Transportation, succeeding Neil E. Goldschmidt with the change of administrations. President Reagan had nominated Lewis on Dec 11, 1980, and the Senate had confirmed the nomination on Jan 22, 1981.
Mar 15, 1981: The labor contract between FAA and PATCO expired. In accordance with Article 75 of the agreement, however, all its provisions but one (immunity under the aviation safety reporting program) remained in force until a new agreement was reached.
Apr 12, 1981: The United States launched space shuttle Columbia on the first shuttle orbital flight.
Apr 22, 1981: J. Lynn Helms became the eighth FAA Administrator, succeeding Langhorne M. Bond. President Reagan had made the nomination on Mar 3, and the Senate confirmed it on Apr 8.
Apr 28, 1981: After 37 negotiating sessions with FAA, PATCO representatives walked out of the contract talks, claiming that the agency was not responsive to their proposals. PATCO had submitted its bargaining proposals to FAA in early January 1981, and negotiations had begun the following month. PATCO's proposals for a 32-hour work week and separate pay scale for controllers, embodied in legislation before Congress, were opposed by the Office of Management and Budget.
May 23, 1981: At its annual convention, in New Orleans, PATCO set a Jun 21 deadline for reaching agreement on a new contract with FAA. PATCO President Robert Poli said if agreement was not reached by that date the union would poll its members for a strike vote. Newspapers quoted Poli as vowing that the "the skies will be silent" if FAA's negotiators did not "come to their senses."
Jun 12, 1981: FAA announced a planned regional consolidation, to be effective Jul 1, that would reduce the number of regional headquarters from eleven to six . The headquarters at New York, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and Honolulu would be phased out, and their functions merged with the remaining sites. Boston would take over the functions of New York, and Kansas City would assume those of Chicago. Seattle would take over the functions of Denver, Los Angeles, and Honolulu. The regional offices at Anchorage, Atlanta, and Fort Worth would remain essentially unchanged. The plan aroused political opposition, and FAA agreed to review the decision.
Jun 17, 1981: PATCO rejected a Reagan Administration contract proposal as inadequate and broke off informal talks with representatives of FAA. The informal talks, conducted irregularly since the break in formal talks on Apr 28, were held under the aegis of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
Jun 18, 1981: The U.S. District Court rejected a PATCO motion to vacate the injunction restraining the union from engaging in illegal job actions or strikes. PATCO moved to have the injunction lifted on the grounds that it had been superceded by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, which gave the Federal Labor Relations Authority original jurisdiction in Federal labor-management disputes.
Jun 22, 1981: Department of Transportation and PATCO representatives reached agreement on a tentative new contract after a marathon bargaining session, thus averting a threatened nationwide strike by PATCO-affiliated controllers that had been scheduled to begin at 7 a.m., Monday, Jun 22.
Secretary of Transportation Drew Lewis and PATCO President Robert Poli had gone back to the bargaining table Friday evening, Jun 19, at the behest of Representative James J. Howard (D-N.J.), chairman of the House Public Works Committee. The resumption of talks may also have been prompted by a letter to Poli from 36 U.S. Senators, stating that a strike by PATCO "will do nothing to further your goals of increased pay and changes in working conditions." The bargaining sessions, which took place at the offices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and were joined in by Federal mediator Kenneth Moffett, lasted more than 25 hours, with the last session running past 3 a.m., Monday.
The agreement contained four key provisions, which the Reagan Administration agreed to recommend to Congress:
* A "responsibility" differential that would give controllers 42 hours pay for each normal 40-hour week worked.
* An increase in the night differential from 10 to 15 percent of base pay.
* The exclusion of overtime, night differential, and Sunday and holiday pay from the limitations of the Federal pay cap.
* A retraining allowance equivalent to 14 weeks of base pay for controllers who became medically disqualified after five consecutive years of service at the journeyman level or above and who were ineligible for retirment or disability compensation.
The first-year cost of the total package, which included a cost-of-living raise of 4.8 percent due Federal civil service employees in October, came to approximately $40 million or, on the average, $4,000 per controller per year. PATCO had been seeking a package that would have cost the government, initially, in excess of $700 million per year.
Jul 2, 1981: PATCO's nine-member executive board recommended unanimously that the union's members reject the tentative contract agreed to on Jun 22 by PATCO President Robert Poli and Secretary of Transportation Drew Lewis. Poli also voted to reject the contract, although he had stated that he was pleased with the settlement at the time of its negotiation. On Jul 29, PATCO announced that its members rejected the tentative contract by a vote of 13,495 to 616. Two days later, on Jul 31, PATCO President Robert Poli announced at a press conference in Washington that his union would go on a nationwide strike beginning on Monday, Aug 3, unless the government met PATCO's demands.
Aug 1, 1981: Michael J. Fenello became FAA's Deputy Administrator, succeeding Quentin S. Taylor
Aug 3, 1981: Nearly 12,300 members of the 15,000-member Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) went on strike, beginning at 7 a.m., EST, grounding approximately 35 percent of the nation's 14,200 daily commercial flights. The controllers struck after the failure of eleventh hour negotiations, which began 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug 2, and continued, with one break, past 2 a.m. Monday, Aug 3. Shortly before 11 a.m. on Aug 3, at an impromptu news conference, President Reagan issued the strikers a firm ultimatum: return to work within 48 hours or face permanent dismissal. The government moved swiftly on three fronts -- civil, criminal, and administrative -- to bring the full force of the law to bear on the strikers. In a series of legal steps, Federal officials:
* Asked the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to decertify PATCO as the bargaining agent for the 17,200 controllers and controller staff members.
* Moved to impound the union's $3.5 million strike fund.
* Filed criminal complaints in Federal courts in eleven cities against twenty-two PATCO officials.
* Sought restraining orders against the strikers in thirty-three courts.
Even before the 7 a.m. walkout, a U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia signed an order directing the controllers to return to work. Late in the evening on Aug 3, another judge of the same court found the union in contempt for failing to obey the first order and imposed an accelerating schedule of fines totaling $4.7 million if the controllers failed to report to work ($250,000 for Tuesday, August 4; $500,000 for Wednesday; $1 million a day for the next four days). That judge also fined PATCO President Robert Poli $1,000 a day for each day the strike continued, through Sunday, Aug 9. Approximately 875 controllers returned to work during the 48 hour grace period granted. After expiration of the grace period, about 11,400 controllers were dismissed. Most of those fired appealed the action, and 440 were eventually reinstated as a result of their appeals.
The strike and dismissals drastically curtailed FAA’s controller workforce. According to DOT’s FY1982 annual report, the firings reduced the number of controllers at the full performance or developmental level from about 16,375 to about 4,200. To keep the airways open, approximately 3,000 ATC supervisory personnel worked at controlling traffic. FAA assigned assistants to support the controllers, and accelerated the hiring and training of new air traffic personnel. Military controllers arrived at FAA facilities soon after the strike began, and about 800 were ultimately assigned to the agency. The combined force was sufficiently large to handle traffic without activating the National Air Traffic Control Contingency Plan, which called for FAA itself to establish rigid, severely curtailed airline schedules and to prescribe routes and altitudes.
The day the strike began, FAA adopted Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 44, establishing provisions for implementing an interim air traffic control operations plan . That plan allowed FAA, among others things, to limit the number of aircraft in the national airspace system. Hence, on Aug 5, the agency implemented a plan dubbed "Flow Control 50," whereby air carriers were required to cancel approximately 50 percent of their scheduled peak-hour flights at 22 major airports. FAA maintained an en route horizontal spacing between aircraft under instrument flight rules of up to 30 miles. Aircraft were kept on the ground, as necessary, to maintain this spacing. FAA gave priority to medical emergency flights, Presidential flights, flights transporting critical FAA employees, and flights dictated by military necessity. General aviation flights operated under the severest restrictions. Aircraft with a gross takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or less were prohibited from flying under instrument flight rules; moreover, aircraft flying under visual flight rules were prohibited from entering terminal control areas. Other general aviation aircraft were served, as conditons permitted, on a first-come-first-served basis.
Aug 6, 1981: The Civil Aeronautics Board approved acquisition of Continental Airlines by Texas International, a subsidiary of Frank Lorenzo's holding company, Texas Air. The transaction was consumated in Oct 1981. A year later, Lorenzo merged Texas International's operations into those of the much larger Continental.
Sep 4, 1981: FAA announced a revised regional consolidation plan under which the number of regions would be reduced from eleven to nine. The original plan would have resulted in only six regions, but FAA stated that this had been modified due to the more pressing need to rebuild the air traffic control system in the wake of the PATCO controllers strike.The consolidation was detailed in a notice issued on Sep 29. Under the new plan, FAA combined the existing Pacific-Asia and Western Regions into a new Western-Pacific Region with headquarters in Los Angeles, and closed the Honolulu regional office. The agency also combined the existing Rocky Mountain and Northwest Regions into a new Northwest Mountain Region with headquarters in Seattle, and closed the Denver regional office. It also reassigned the states of North and South Dakota from the Rocky Mountain to the Great Lakes Region. Operations under the new concept began on Oct 1, and all physical relocation was scheduled for completion by the end of Aug 1982.
Sep 4, 1981: FAA announced it would hire approximately 1,500 temporary employees, including furloughed airline pilots, to assist in replacing air traffic controllers fired for striking. The temporary employees would not control traffic, but would perform duties related to flight strip distribution and other controller support functions.
Sep 26, 1981: The twin-engine Boeing 767 made its first flight. On Jul 30, 1982, FAA certificated the aircraft, the first entirely new U.S. commercial transport design in more than a decade. The 767 began its first revenue service on Sep 8 of that year with United Air Lines. On Jul 14, 1978, United Airlines had placed the largest order to date for a single commercial airplane, when it made a $1.2 billion order for the airliner.
Oct 6, 1981: Blanche W. Noyes died. One of the nation's early female pilots, she was probably the first woman pilot to have a career in the U.S. government. Noyes was known for her work in the air marking program during 35 years with FAA and its predecessors. She participated in many aviation events and races, winning the 1936 Bendix Air Race, was a founder of the Ninety-Nines, Inc., an organization established to encourage women in aviation. Her many awards included the Department of Commerce's gold medal for exceptional service in 1956, and induction into the Aviation Hall of Fame in 1970.
Nov 1, 1981: Effective this date, Administrator Helms designated four aircraft certification directorates. The directorates assumed the certification responsibilities previously assigned to the lead and certificating regions under the lead region concept. They also received additional responsibilities to strengthen and streamline the certification process. The directorates were managed by the directors of the following regions: Central (for aircraft under 12,500 lbs.); Northwest Mountain (for transport aircraft); Southwest (for rotorcraft); and New England (for engines and propellers). The authority of the directorates extended beyond regional boundaries. For example, aircraft certification offices in the Central, Southern, and Great Lakes regions reported directly to the Small Airplane Certification Directorate at the Central Region headquarters. FAA formally established the directorates by an order dated Feb 1, 1982, and on Mar 9 issued a news release stating that the directorate system had become operational.
Dec 9, 1981: President Reagan rescinded a three-year prohibition of any Federal employment of controllers dismissed for participation in the PATCO strike ; however, the fired controllers were still barred from employment with FAA.
Dec 29, 1981: President Reagan suspended the U.S. landing rights of the Soviet airline Aeroflot as part of sanctions enacted in response to repression in Poland. The action came soon after a temporary one-week suspension of Aeroflot's U.S. operations imposed during November because of violations of the prescribed routes.
Dec 31, 1981: Robert E. Poli resigned as president of PATCO.
Feb 19, 1982: The Boeing 757 first flew. On Dec 21, 1982, FAA certificated the first version of the Boeing 757, a narrow-body jet capable of carrying up to 219 passengers in short/medium range flights and designed to replace the Boeing 727, the single most popular jetliner model produced to date, but obsolescent in terms of noise, fuel efficiency, and flight crew productivity. Powered by two Rolls-Royce 535C engines, the 757 was the first Boeing airliner launched with foreign-made engines. Eastern Air Lines and British Airways had placed orders for the medium-range airliner on Aug 31, 1978
Mar 15, 1982: The Safety Regulations Staff in FAA's Office of the Associate Administrator for Aviation Standards was abolished and its functions were transferred to a new Safety Regulations Division established in the Office of Aviation Safety.
May 12, 1982: Braniff International Airways suspended operations, quickly filing for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code.
Jul 2, 1982: The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization filed a request for liquidation under Chapter 7 of the Federal Bankruptcy Act. According to Gary Eads, who had become PATCO's president on Jan 1, 1982, the union had about $5 million in assets but owed $40 million, including $33.4 million to the airlines for violating a 1970 Federal court anti-strike injunction. Last Nov 25, PATCO had filed a motion in Federal court seeking to freeze its assets while it reorganized under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Act. After filing to liquidate under Chapter 7, Eads declared, "It is over for PATCO. The union is gone."
Jul 2, 1982: Truck driver Larry Walters reached a reported 16,000 ft. over Long Beach, Calif., during a 45-minute flight in a lawn chair tied to balloons, crashing into a power line on descent but alighting unharmed. FAA fined Walters $1,500 for the escapade.
Aug 23, 1982: United Parcel Service began “Next Day Air” package delivery between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The service was extended to 24 metropolitan areas during the following month, and by Jun 1985 it covered all the states except Alaska. UPS air freight had traveled primarily in the cargo holds of passenger aircraft through 1980, but thereafter the company relied increasingly on its growing fleet of cargo aircraft.
Dec 28, 1982: Secretary of Transportation Drew Lewis announced his resignation, effective Feb 1, 1983. Lewis, who stated that he had originally planned to remain as Secretary only two years before returning to private life, became chief executive of a cable television company.
Feb 7, 1983: Elizabeth Hanford Dole became Secretary of Transportation. Dole had directed the President's Committee for Consumer Interests under the Johnson Administration.
Sep 1, 1983: A Soviet interceptor shot down Korean Air Lines flight 007, a 747 that penetrated the Soviet Union's airspace during a flight bound for Japan from Alaska. All 269 persons aboard, including Rep. Larry P. McDonald (D-Ga.) and 60 other Americans, were killed. An International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) report issued in June 1993 concluded: that the Korean crew unknowlingly flew into Soviet airspace because they improperly operated their naviation equipment; and that the Soviets assumed that the 747 was an intelligence aircraft and did not make exhaustive efforts to identify it.
Sep 24, 1983: Continental Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 and suspended flights. Frank Lorenzo (chairman of the airline and its parent company, Texas Air) announced on Sep 26 that a "new Continental" was resuming operations, on a discount-fare basis, to about a third of the cities formerly served. He offered to rehire 4,200 of the firm's 12,000 employees at salaries below those paid under their union contracts. Continental's pilots and flight attendants began a strike on Oct 1, but failed to shut down the airline. By the end of 1983, the company employed approximately 700 pilots and 800 flight attendants.
Dec 23, 1983: J. Lynn Helms resigned as FAA Administrator, effective Jan 31, 1984. Helms stated that his objectives as Administrator were largely accomplished and he wished to return to the private sector. Deputy Administrator Michael J. Fenello became Acting Administrator
Feb 6, 1984: FAA conducted an intensive inspection of Continental Airlines, lasting through Mar 9. The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) was on strike against Continental, and accused it of unsafe practices. The FAA report cited discrepancies but concluded that overall safety was adequate. (Two members of the inspection team later charged that higher officials had altered their report to make it more favorable to the airline; however, an FBI investigation found no basis to prosecute for impropriety.) In Jun 1984 congressional hearings, ALPA charged that FAA was covering up safety violations by Continental, while FAA testified that the airline was safe.
Mar 1, 1984: Braniff resumed commercial flights. Now known as Braniff, Inc., the company operated on a smaller scale than before its suspension of flights. To assist the airline's recovery, FAA allocated it landing reservations at five airports where operations were limited by the high density rule and/or restrictions imposed due to the air traffic controllers' strike.
Apr 10, 1984: Vice Admiral Donald D. Engen (USN, Ret.) became the ninth FAA Administrator, succeeding J. Lynn Helms . The Senate had received the nomination on Mar 12 and confirmed it on Apr 5. Congress enacted Public Law 98-256 to exempt Engen from the statute prohibiting military officers from serving as FAA Administrator.
May 20, 1984: Former Federal aviation official Oscar Bakke died at age 64. Bakke joined the Civil Aeronautics Board in 1946, became Director of its Bureau of Safety in 1956, and was influential in establishing area positive control . He transferred to FAA in 1960 as Director of the Flight Standards Service, and became Eastern Region Director the following year. Appointed Associate Administrator for Plans in 1967, he led a task force that produced recommendations that influenced subsequent legislation on airport and airway development. In 1971, Bakke went to Brussels as Assistant Administrator for the Europe, Africa, and Middle East Region. After returning to Washington, he headed an FAA panel to investigate the DC-10 crash of Mar 14, 1974 (see that date). Bakke retired from the agency during that same year, following the failure of plans to place him in charge of all safety programs. He became executive director of the Newark Transportation Council and later of a charitable foundation.
May 24, 1984: In a move intended to sharpen FAA's focus on safety, Administrator Engen announced that the Office of Aviation Safety would now report directly to him instead of to the Associate Administrator for Aviation Standards. A directive dated Aug 6, 1984, formally implemented the change.
Dec 13, 1984: Richard H. Jones became Deputy Administrator of FAA, succeeding Michael J. Fenello.
Dec 31, 1984: In accordance with the Airline Deregulation Act , the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) ceased to exist at the end of this day, having operated for 44 years and 7 months. Originally entrusted with airline economic regulation, accident investigation, and safety rulemaking, CAB lost the latter responsibility with the Federal Aviation Act of 1958. The Department of Transportation Act of 1966 later deprived the Board of its accident investigation role, leaving economic regulation as its principal mission. After 1984, the Department of Transportation (DOT) assumed those CAB duties that had not been abolished by deregulation. Functions assigned to elements of the Office of the Secretary of Transportation included: international aviation responsibilities such as bilateral treaty negotiation, carrier selection, and tariff filing and review; the Essential Air Service Program, which protected service to small communities; consumer protection for airline passengers; antitrust review and immunity authority; and certification of the economic fitness of carriers. DOT's Research and Special Projects Administration assumed responsibility for collection and dissemination of air carrier economic data.
Mar 18, 1985: FAA began an in-depth inspection of Continental Airlines that lasted through Apr 26. This was the second special inspection of Continental since the Air Line Pilots Association began a strike against it. On Jun 11, 1985, FAA announced that the airline continued to operate in basic accordance with safety regulations. In Mar 1986, however, Continental paid a $402,000 penalty for violations uncovered by FAA during its 1984 and 1985 inspections.
Meanwhile, the flight attendants and mechanics ended their strike against Continental in Apr 1985, and a bankruptcy court resolved the pilots strike during that October by ordering a back-to-work plan. On Jun 30, 1986, the court approved a plan allowing Continental to end its bankruptcy within sixty days.
May 17, 1985: United Airlines pilots went on strike over the company's plan for a two-tiered pay structure with lower pay for new pilots. The union and management soon reached an economic agreement that permitted such a two-tier system, but back-to-work issues delayed settlement until Jun 14. During the strike, FAA increased safety surveillance of United operations, and used electronic equipment to help identify those harassing non-striking pilots with illegal radio transmissions on air traffic control frequencies.
Jun 7, 1985: Effective this date, FAA reduced the total flight hours required for a pilot to be eligible to obtain an instrument rating from 200 to 125. A contract study had indicated that the change would have no effect on pilots' ability to learn instrument flying skills, but would encourage them to acquire the rating earlier.
Aug 16, 1985: Transportation Secretary Dole released a report on FAA's Flight Standards programs by the Safety Review Task Force that she had created in Dec 1983 to examine the safety programs of all the Department's modal administrations. The report identified four problem areas: difficulty in carrying out timely actions; lack of uniformity in interpreting rules and policies; sometimes ineffective communications within FAA and with the aviation community and general public; and expanded autonomy at FAA regional offices and some headquarters offices that had inhibited the accomplishment of program objectives.
Sep 25, 1985: American Airlines agreed to pay a $1.5 million civil penalty, the largest levied by FAA to that date. Most of the safety violations cited against American had been uncovered in a special inspection that summer.
Nov 7, 1985: DOT announced final approval for United Airlines acquisition of Pan American's Pacific Division. The transaction meant the end of Pan Am's far-flung Pacific operations, except for service between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland.
Dec 4, 1985: AN FAA DC-3 (registration number N-34) arrived at Washington National Airport to begin a new career as a flying exhibit. Manufactured in 1945, N-34 had belonged to the Navy before its transfer to FAA in 1963. With many other DC-3s, it performed quality assurance and facility certification checks on the nation's airways before its retirement from this role on Sep 9, 1982. N-34 was exhibited at air shows until retired from active service as a cost saving measure in early 1994.
Jan 23, 1986: Northwest Airlines announced that it would buy Republic Airlines. DOT approved the merger on Jul 31, 1986.
Jan 28, 1986: The space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff from Cape Canaveral. The accident killed all seven persons aboard and dealt a severe blow to the U.S. space program. No further shuttle flights took place until Sep 29, 1988.
Feb 24, 1986: Financially troubled Eastern Air Lines tentatively accepted a buy-out offer by Texas Air. The board's decision followed labor negotiations in which Eastern's pilots agreed to make concessions but the union representing machinists and mechanics demanded replacement of chairman Frank Borman. Following the purchase agreement, Borman remained as Eastern's head until his resignation in June.
Mar 1, 1986: Trans World Airlines acquired Ozark Airlines under an agreement that received Department of Transportation approval in September. Ozark had begun flying in 1950 and expanded within the Midwest, then grew beyond that region with the introduction of airline deregulation in the late 1970s. The airline had encountered economic difficulties, beginning in 1984. Ozark's operations merged into those of TWA on Oct 26, 1986.
Mar 7, 1986: FAA proposed a $9.5 million civil penalty against Eastern Air Lines, by far the largest penalty the agency had proposed to that date, for safety violations revealed during an inspection from Dec 3, 1985, through Feb 20, 1986. Eastern objected to the fine, but in Feb 1987 agreed to pay. Meanwhile, on Aug 22, 1986, FAA announced that Pan American would pay $1.95 million for safety violations revealed by an inspection that began in March. This was the largest penalty actually levied by FAA to that date, but smaller than the $3.9 million originally proposed to Pan Am for these violations.
Apr 2, 1986: A bomb hidden under a seat cushion exploded aboard a TWA 727 on approach to Athens, Greece, creating a hole in the fuselage four feet in diameter. The blast killed four passengers and injured nine others, but the aircraft landed safely. The bomb was similar to one that exploded on Aug 11, 1982, aboard a Pan American 747 flying from Japan to Hawaii, killing 1 person and injuring 15.
Sep 5, 1986: At Karachi, Pakistan, four men dressed as security guards stormed a Pan American 747. The flight crew escaped, but the four terrorists demanded a crew to fly them to Cyprus. They killed an American passenger during the ensuing 17 hour negotiations. When the lights aboard the aircraft failed, the terrorists began a massacre, killing 22 persons and injuring 125 before being arrested.
Oct 31, 1986: In a restructuring of the organizational complex under the Associate Administrator for Aviation Standards, the Office of Flight Operations was retitled the Office of Flight Standards. The Rotorcraft Program Office, which had been disbanded on Mar 7, was formally abolished and its functions divided between the Office of Flight Standards and the Office of Airworthiness. Certain other adjustments in the responsibilities of these two offices also took effect.
Dec 23, 1986: Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager became the first aircraft pilots to circle the globe without landing or refueling when their experimental airplane Voyager touched down at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., after covering 25,000 miles in nine days. The aircraft had a propeller at each end of its fuselage, and was equipped with a main wing nearly 111 feet long as well as a smaller forward wing. Voyager took off on Dec 14 with 1,200 gallons of fuel and landed with only eight gallons of usable fuel remaining.
Feb 1, 1987: The Texas Air holding corporation merged New York Air and People Express into Continental Airlines.
Feb 17, 1987: FAA added a new commuter category of aircraft and set forth the airworthiness and operating rules, certification procedures, and noise rules for that additional category of propeller-driven, multi-engine airplane, with a seating capacity of no more than 19, and a takeoff weight of no more than 19,000 pounds.
Feb 28, 1987: General William F. McKee died in San Antonio, Tex. After serving as FAA's third Administrator (see Jul 1, 1965), McKee had been a partner in a consulting firm before retiring.
Mar 18, 1987: Donald D. Engen announced his resignation as FAA Administrator, effective in July (the exact date became July 2). On Engen's departure, the position of Acting Administrator was filled by Robert Whittington, Director of the New England Region.
Apr 1, 1987: Western Airlines merged into Delta Air Lines.
May 14, 1987: President Reagan announced his nomination of Lawrence M. Hecker as FAA's Deputy Administrator. The nominee was a former pilot and vice president of flight operations for Western Airlines. Hecker withdrew his candidacy in September because the Senate failed to act on the nomination.
May 19, 1987: USAir absorbed Pacific Southwest Airlines. On Oct 30, DOT announced its approval for USAir's proposed acquisition of Piedmont Airlines. Formal merger of the two airlines' parent companies occurred on Aug 5, 1989, and full integration of Piedmont Airlines into USAir was not completed until Feb 1, 1990.
Jul 22, 1987: T. Allan McArtor became the tenth FAA Administrator, succeeding Donald D. Engen . McArtor took the oath a second time in a public ceremony on Jul 27. President Reagan had announced the new Administrator’s appointment on Jun 5, and the Senate had confirmed it on Jul 17.
Oct 1, 1987: Elizabeth Hanford Dole resigned as Secretary of Transportation and Deputy Secretary James H. Burnley became Acting Secretary. Before becoming Deputy Secretary, Burnley had been the Department's General Counsel and had previously been an Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department. President Reagan nominated him for the top post at Transportation shortly after Dole's resignation. On December 3, Burnley became Secretary of Transportation. He served the remainder of the Reagan Administration, resigning effective Jan 20, 1989.
Feb 8, 1988: FAA announced that it had retired airplane registration number N16020, used by Amelia Earhart when she disappeared on a flight over the Pacific Ocean (see Jul 2, 1937). The number had been recently held by Continental Air Lines, which had agreed to its retirement.
Apr 1, 1988: Barbara McConnell Barrett became FAA's Deputy Administrator, succeeding Richard H. Jones (see Dec 13, 1984). A previous nominee, Lawrence M. Hecker, had withdrawn in September.
Apr 23, 1988: Effective this date, FAA placed a two-year ban on smoking on all domestic scheduled airline flights of two hours or less.
Apr 28, 1988: An 18-foot gap opened in flight in the fuselage of a Boeing 737 operated by Aloha Airlines. Decompression swept a flight attendant through the opening, and 8 other persons were seriously injured. The plane made an emergency landing on the Hawaian island of Maui. In the immediate aftermath of the accident, FAA ordered inspections of 737-100 and 737-200 jets logging more than 55,000 landings and restricted those planes to 23,000-foot altitude until inspected. On May 23, 1989, the National Transportation Safety Board cited the probable cause of the accident as the Aloha maintenance program's failure to detect disbonding and fatigue damage. Contributary factors listed included Aloha management failings, FAA regulatory deficiencies, and Boeing’s failure to ensure correction of certain 737 construction problems. The near disaster aboard the high-service, 19-year-old Aloha plane focused attention on the issue of the airworthiness of aging airliners.
Jun 2, 1988: After a six week review of Texas Air Corp. and its subsidiaries, Eastern and Continental Airlines, Secretary of Transportation James Burnley announced that the airlines were currently operating safely. He noted however, that labor-management hostility at Eastern was at an unprecedented level. To prevent this tension from threatening Eastern's future safety, Burnley had asked former Secretary of Labor William E. Brock to mediate the situation.
Dec 15, 1988: FAA issued a type certificate for the Airbus A-320. The aircraft had received its certification in Europe in February 1988. The A-320 was a short-to-medium range, twin turbo-fan transport with a seating capacity of 120-179 passengers. It was the first civilian transport to incorporate "fly-by-wire" controls for elevators, ailerons, spoilers, tailplane trim, slats, flaps, and speed brakes.
Dec 21, 1988: An explosion destroyed Pan American World Airways Flight 103 near Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 persons aboard and 11 on the ground . The Boeing 747 had been bound for New York Kennedy from London Heathrow. Investigators later discovered that the tragedy was the result of a bomb concealed inside a radio-cassette player that had been loaded into a forward luggage compartment in Frankfurt (see Nov 14, 1991). FAA quickly began an inspection of Pan American’s security procedures at Heathrow and Frankfurt airports, and later proposed $630,000 in civil penalties against the airline for alleged violations of security regulations.
Jan 20, 1989: George Bush became President, succeeding Ronald Reagan.
Feb 6, 1989: Samuel K. Skinner became Secretary of Transportation, succeeding James H. Burnley with the change of administrations. A lawyer from Illinois, Skinner had been chairman of a regional transportation authority and had managed the Bush Presidential campaign in the state. He served as Secretary until becoming President Bush's chief of staff on Dec 16, 1991.
Feb 17, 1989: Effective this date, T. Allan McArtor resigned as FAA Administrator. The post of Acting Administrator was filled by Robert Whittington, whose regular position was now Executive Director for Policy, Plans, and Resource Management.
May 1, 1989: FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) concluded their first labor agreement.
Jun 30, 1989: Admiral James B. Busey (USN, Ret.) became FAA's eleventh Administrator, succeeding T. Allan McArtor . Busey took the oath a second time in a public ceremony on Jul 11. The new Administrator had been on active duty with the Navy when President Bush announced his selection on Mar 17. He retired from the Navy in May, and the Senate confirmed his nomination on Jun 23. Enactment of Public Law 101-47 exempted him from the legal provision barring active or retired military officers from becoming FAA Administrator.
Sep 28, 1989: Braniff again filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, and ceased all passenger operations on Nov 6. The company had previously suspended operations during 1982, but later resumed flights.
Oct 17, 1989: An earthquake, registering 7.1 on the Richter scale, shook northern California, damaging runways, disrupting airline service, and causing approximately $50 million damage to FAA facilities and equipment. Among the affected facilities were the San Francisco tower cab, which lost windows and its ceiling, and the San Jose tower, which lost a window and air conditioning unit; controllers nevertheless remained on duty to ensure the safety of flights aloft. FAA subsequently allocated $8 million in discretionary airport improvement funds for partial reconstruction of a runway at Oakland.
Jan 8, 1990: The Department of Transportation officially opened TransExpo at the Sheraton Washington Hotel. The three-day exhibition, which attracted.
Jan 10, 1990: The McDonnell Douglas MD-11 first flew. A medium/long-range transport designed as a successor to the DC-10, the aircraft could seat up to 323 passengers in its standard passenger version. The MD-11 received Federal Aviation Administration certification on Nov 8 and first entered commercial service on Dec 20, 1990, with Finnair.
Feb 25, 1990: In response to a congressional mandate, prohibition of smoking went into effect on virtually all scheduled U.S. domestic airline flights. Flights to or from Alaska or Hawaii scheduled to last six hours or more were excepted. The prohibition included foreign carriers operating between two points within U.S. territory. The ban did not apply to the flight deck.
Mar 6, 1990: An SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft landed at Dulles International after a record-breaking 68 minute flight from the Pacific coast, and was then retired to the National Air and Space Museum collection.
Mar 12, 1990: Barry L. Harris became FAA's Deputy Administrator, succeeding Barbara McConnell Barrett. President Bush had announced the nomination on Nov 6, 1989.
Apr 2, 1990: A National Transportation Safety Board reorganization effective this date included establishment of a new Office of Aviation Safety.
Apr 18, 1990: A Federal bankruptcy judge removed Eastern Air Lines from the control of Texas Air Chairman Frank Lorenzo and placed it in the hands of special trustee, Martin Shugrue. Eastern had lost more than $1 billion since it filed for Chapter 11 protection on Mar 9, 1989. On Aug 9, 1990, Scandinavian Airline System bought Lorenzo's interests in Continental Airline Holdings (formerly known as Texas Air Corporation), which owned Eastern and Continental airlines. Besides stepping down as chairman of Continental Airlines Holdings, Lorenzo agreed not to work for a Continental competitor for seven years, although this stipulation was later dropped as part of a legal settlement.
Aug 2, 1990: Iraq invaded and seized control of Kuwait. President Bush's response included immediate restrictions on air transportation between the U.S. and Iraq, and these prohibitions were extended to include occupied Kuwait on Aug 9. The United States also sent thousands of troops to Saudi Arabia in Operation Desert Shield. Among the other effects of the crisis during the rest of 1990 was a dramatic escalation of the rise in jet fuel prices.
Aug 17, 1990: A portion of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) was called up for the first time in history as the Defense Department activated CRAF Level 1. Participating airlines provided aircraft and crews to expand U.S. airlift capability for the Operation Desert Shield deployment in the Middle East.
Sep 6, 1990: A new Air Force One made its maiden voyage. The specially designed Boeing 747, and its identical backup plane, replaced two twenty-year-old Boeing 707s.
Nov 14, 1990: Pan American and United Airlines signed an agreement under which United would pay $400 million for Pan Am's routes to London Heathrow and certain other assets.
Dec 3, 1990: For the second time within eight years (see Sep 24, 1983), Continental Airlines filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the Federal bankruptcy code.
Jan 8, 1991: Pan American World Airways filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy laws. On Aug 12, 1991, a Federal bankruptcy judge approved a deal under which Delta Air Lines would acquire major Pan American assets and also own 45 percent of a downsized PAA. On Sep 1, Delta began operating Pan Am's shuttle serving Washington, New York, and Boston. On Oct 18, DOT gave final approval to the sale of most of Pan Am's remaining transatlantic routes to Delta.
Jan 18, 1991: Eastern Air Lines ceased flight operations as of midnight on this date, after nine months under the control of a trustee appointed by a bankruptcy judge. On Jan 24, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers ended their strike of over 22 months against the airline. On Feb 27, Eastern agreed to plead guilty to Federal charges involving falsification of aircraft maintenance records, and was fined $3.5 million, while prosecutors dropped other related charges. The case stemmed from a grand jury indictment on Jul 25, 1990.
Jun 27, 1991: America West Airlines filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. The Phoenix-based carrier had begun operations in Aug 1983, and was listed as a major airline by 1990. The airline emerged from bankruptcy on Aug 25, 1994.
Jul 1, 1991: Piper Aircraft Corporation filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code.
Jun 27, 1991: America West Airlines filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. The Phoenix-based carrier had begun operations in Aug 1983, and was listed as a major airline by 1990. The airline emerged from bankruptcy on Aug 25, 1994.
Jul 1, 1991: Piper Aircraft Corporation filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code.
Jul 1, 1991: A new Braniff International Airlines began scheduled service. Legally a different entity from the earlier Braniff, the small new airline flew for only a few weeks before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Aug 7, 1991. It ceased operations on Jul 2, 1992.
. Oct 28, 1991: The Aging Aircraft Safety Act, enacted on this date, required FAA to undertake rulemaking requiring certain airworthiness reviews and inspections for airliners in service more than 15 years. The agency accordingly published such a proposal on Oct 5, 1993. The act also directed FAA to establish programs to insure that U.S. air carriers properly maintained their older aircraft and to encourage foreign airlines to so the same. Although the legislation did not specifically address commuter aircraft, FAA extended its aging aircraft program to that sector.
Nov 20, 1991: The White House announced the selection of FAA Administrator James Busey to become DOT Deputy Secretary, succeeding Elaine Chao, who left DOT on Oct 22 to become Peace Corps Director. On Nov 22, the White House announced the choice of Jerry R. Curry to succeed Busey as FAA Administrator. A retired Army major general, Curry was serving as Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Subsequently, Curry withdrew as nominee for the FAA post on Mar 20, 1992.
Dec 4, 1991: James B. Busey left the post of FAA Administrator and became Deputy Secretary of Transportation (a position which he held until resigning effective Jun 19, 1992). On Busey's departure from FAA, Deputy Administrator Barry L. Harris became Acting Administrator, and Executive Director for System Operations Joseph M. Del Balzo became Acting Deputy Administrator. On Dec 6, 1991, President Bush announced the choice of DOT Secretary Samuel L. Skinner to become his chief of staff on Dec 16, replacing John H. Sununu. Busey became Acting Secretary upon Skinner's departure from DOT.
Dec 26, 1991: On the day following President Mikhail S. Gorbachev's resignation, the Soviet legislature voted the Soviet Union out of existence.
Jan 31, 1992: Trans World Airlines filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy laws, announcing a plan under which chairman Carl Icahn would lose his controlling interest but continue to head the airline for at least one year. Subsequent events included acquisition of substantial interests in TWA by its employees, and the departure of Icahn in early 1993. TWA became solvent on Nov 3, 1993, filed again for protection on Jun 30, 1995, and emerged from its second Chapter 11 reorganization on Aug 23, 1995.
Feb 24, 1992: Andrew H. Card, Jr., took the oath as Secretary of Transportation.
Jun 27, 1992: General Thomas C. Richards (USAF, Ret.) became FAA's twelfth Administrator, succeeding James B. Busey.
Jan 7, 1993: DOT announced its approval of a $450 million investment in Continental Airlines by Air Canada and Air Partners of Dallas, Tex. On Apr 28, Continental emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy (see Dec 3, 1990).
Jan 20, 1993: William J. Clinton became President, succeeding George Bush. FAA’s Administrator Thomas C. Richards left office with the Bush Administration, and Joseph M. Del Balzo became Acting Administrator.
Jan 21, 1993: Federico F. Peña became Secretary of Transportation, succeeding Andrew H. Card with the change of Administrations. A former member of the Colorado legislature and two-term mayor of Denver, Peña had been a strong advocate of the new airport under construction for his city. He served as Secretary until Feb 14, 1997.
Feb 9, 1993: Lt. Gen. Elwood R. Quesada died at the age of 88. Quesada had been FAA’s first Administrator.
Feb 22, 1993: The first prototype of the McDonnell Douglas MD-90 series, a follow-on to the MD-80 series, made its initial flight. FAA type-certificated the MD-90 on Nov 16, 1994, and it entered commercial service on April 1, 1995, with Delta.
Aug 10, 1993: David R. Hinson became FAA's thirteenth Administrator, succeeding Thomas C. Richards.
Aug 12, 1993: The Clinton Administration announced that air traffic controllers fired for participation in the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization strike could apply for reemployment. (Since Dec 1981, the fired controllers could apply for any federal position except for jobs in the FAA and certain related positions in the Defense and Treasury Departments.) At the time of the announcement, FAA had already imposed a hiring freeze because of budget restrictions. The agency estimated that once the freeze ended it would hire fewer than 200 new controllers per year over the next few years. In Jan 1995, a rehired group of 26 former strikers began training, and about 14 others were rehired during that year.
Nov 18, 1993: American Airlines' flight attendants went on strike, forcing the airline to cancel or delay flights. The disputed issues centered on scheduling, pay, and health benefits. On Nov 22, President Clinton interceded in the five-day old strike, persuading the union and the airline to agree to binding arbitration.
Nov 23, 1993: Linda H. Daschle became the Deputy Administrator of FAA. President Clinton had announced his intention to nominate Daschle on Oct 25, and the Senate had confirmed her appointment on Nov 20.
Dec 31, 1993: The end of this day completed a calendar year in which major (Part 121) scheduled airlines experienced no passenger or air crew fatalities. The only fatal accident in Part 121 scheduled operations involved a ground crewmember struck by a propeller. The fatal accident rate for this segment of aviation was 0.013 per 100,000 departures, the lowest since 1980 (see Dec 31, 1980).
Jan 17, 1994: An earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale hit the Los Angeles area, briefly closing Los Angeles airport. The Van Nuys airport tower lost its window glass but continued to operate until a temporary tower was activated.
Jan 1994: Locality pay became effective for Federal workers, who received raises ranging from 6.52 to 3.09 percent. The percentage was determined by location in 27 metropolitan areas, plus a catchall “rest of the U.S.” locality. Certain employees who were already paid at special rates did not receive a raise unless the amount of the locality increase exceeded their pay differential.
Jun 12, 1994 The Boeing 777, the first U.S. jetliner to use a “fly-by-wire” control system, made its first flight. The long-range, twin-engine transport was designed for a basic seating capacity of 375 passengers. On April 19, 1995, the aircraft received joint certification by FAA and Europe’s Joint Aviation Authorities. After an unprecedented testing program, FAA on May 30, 1995, approved the 777 to fly on long, over-water flights as far as three hours from a landing site. This was the first time that the agency had granted this Extended Twin-Engine Operations (ETOPS) authority without an extensive period of in-service operation. The 777 entered commercial service, with United Airlines, on Jun 7, 1995.
July 5, 1994: Public Law 103-272 recodified certain laws pertaining to transportation, including the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, as amended, which was FAA’s basic enabling legislation. As a result of the recodification, the Federal Aviation Act was superseded by provisions of Subtitle VII of Title 49, United States Code.
Jul 12, 1994: United Air Lines’ parent corporation announced that its shareholders had voted to transfer 55 percent majority ownership of United to the airline’s employees. The deal made United the largest employee-owned U.S. company.
Aug 15, 1994: FAA issued a regulation which, for the first time, set length of duty and rest requirements for airline flight attendants. Under the rule, attendants could remain on duty for as many as 14 hours within a 24-hour period, but would get a rest period of at least 9 hours after that duty period. Longer duty periods would be permitted, but in such cases FAA required that rest periods and the size of the flight attendant crew would increase. Due to litigation, FAA did not begin enforcing the rule until Feb 1, 1996.
Aug 17, 1994: President Clinton signed the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994. Under the new law, manufacturers could not be held liable for accidents happening more than 18 years after the production of general aviation aircraft, engines, or parts. The legislation was followed by an upturn for this sector of industry.
Aug 30, 1994: Lockheed and Martin Marietta announced plans for a merger that was accomplished during 1995, creating Lockheed Martin. Lockheed had been formed in 1926, while Martin Marietta had been created in 1961 by a merger of the American-Marietta Company with the aircraft manufacturing firm founded by Glenn Martin in 1917.
Apr 19, 1995: A bomb blast at the Alfred P. Murrah federal office building in Oklahoma City killed more than 160 persons and injured hundreds of others. FAA personnel participated in relief efforts.
Apr 21, 1995: FAA issued a rule establishing minimum combined experience levels for two airline pilots flying together and also upgrading operational experience requirements. The agency had proposed the rule in Mar 1993 in response to accidents and incidents in which a contributing factor was the pairing of inexperienced pilots.
Aug 7, 1995: DOT announced that the Office of Commercial Space Transportation would move from the Office of the Secretary to FAA, effective Oct 1, 1995. The change was part of a larger DOT reorganization aimed at streamlining the Department in accordance with the National Performance Review.
Feb 20, 1996: FAA began a 120-day special emphasis safety review of ValuJet Airlines, an innovative low-cost carrier that had grown rapidly since its certification on Oct 21, 1993. Factors prompting the review included a series of incidents and nonfatal accidents.
Jun 17, 1996: FAA announced that ValuJet Airlines would cease operations, as of midnight on the same day, pending safety improvements required under a consent decree. The agency based its action on an intensified inspection of the carrier undertaken since the recent crash (see May 11, 1996). FAA stated that this heightened scrutiny had revealed serious safety deficiences in the areas of airworthiness, maintenance, quality assurance of contractors, and engineering capability. The announcement sparked renewed criticism of DOT and FAA because it appeared to contrast with statements, made following the accident, assuring the public that the airline was safe. The next day, Secretary of Transportation Peña and Administrator Hinson described steps to improve safety oversight and address public concerns. Peña stated that he would urge Congress to make safety FAA’s single primary mission. Hinson outlined improvements to FAA’s examination of airlines, such as ValuJet, that relied heavily on contractors for maintenance and training. He stated that Deputy Administrator Daschle would lead a review of pertinent regulatory issues. Hinson also announced the retirement of Anthony J. Broderick, Associate Administrator for Regulation and Certification.
Jul 17, 1996: Trans World Airlines Flight 800 exploded in midair and crashed into the Atlantic off Long Island after taking off from New York Kennedy airport for Paris. All 230 persons aboard the Boeing 747 died. Initial speculation as to the cause focused on terrorism. On the day after the tragedy, FAA confirmed that the security measures announced during the previous summer
remained in effect, with some adjustments. On Jul 25, President Clinton announced increased security for air travel. FAA stated that steps would include more intensive screening of passengers on international flights, increased screening of carry-on bags for both international and domestic flights, as well as other actions not disclosed to the public. Clinton also announced that Vice President Gore would head a commission to review aviation security. This White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security was formally established Aug 21, 1996.
Despite painstaking recovery of the wreckage, the TWA disaster proved difficult to explain. Throughout 1996, the National Transportation Safety Board refused to rule out any of three possible causes: a bomb, a missile, or mechanical failure. As the investigation progressed, however, the possibility of an accidental fuel tank explosion received increased media attention. On Dec 13, 1996, the Board announced a group of recommendations for improving the safety of the 747 fuel system. FAA, which had been conducting a review of 747 safety issues in the wake of the crash, issued on Dec 23 an airworthiness directive requiring inspection of certain wiring in the fuel systems of older 747s.
Aug 29, 1996 FAA returned ValuJet’s operating certificate to the airline, stating that the carrier had completed the safety improvements outlined in the consent order that grounded it. The action cleared ValuJet to renew operations, subject to a DOT fitness ruling subsequently granted on Sep 26. The airline resumed flying on Sep 30. FAA imposed a limit of 15 aircraft, subject to review, in contrast to the 51 aircraft that the carrier had operated before its grounding.
Sep 26, 1996: A new Pan American World Airways began service. The operators of the small new carrier had purchased the name and trademark of the original airline.
Nov 9, 1996: David R. Hinson resigned as FAA Administrator, effective this date. With Hinson’s departure, Deputy Administrator Daschle became Acting Administrator, a post that she held until resigning from the agency, effective Jan 31, 1997.
Dec 15, 1996: An agreement under which Boeing would acquire McDonnell Douglas was announced by the two companies. On Aug 4, 1997, Boeing announced that the merger was complete and that it was now the world’s largest aerospace company. Boeing had been formed as the Pacific Aero Products Company in 1916 and adopted the Boeing name the following year. McDonnell Douglas had been created by a merger of two firms.
Dec 20, 1996: President Clinton announced the selection of Rodney E. Slater to be Secretary of Transportation during the President’s second term. A former chairman of the Arkansas State Highway Commission, Slater had been Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration since 1993. Clinton also revealed the nomination of the current Secretary of Transportation, Federico Peña, to be Secretary of Energy. Peña’s resignation from the DOT post became effective on Feb 14, 1997, the same day that Slater became Secretary.