Monday, January 14, 2008

FAA History Lesson -- January 14

FAA History Lesson -- January 14


From the FAA Historical Chronology, 1926-1996...

”Jan 1954: The Air Navigation Development Board (ANDB) was reconstituted with members from higher levels of Government (see May 23, 1948). The revised Board, chaired by Donald A. Quarles, Assistant Secretary of Defense (R. & D.), included: an Under Secretary of Commerce for Transportation; Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air; Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (R. & D.); and a Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army (see Oct 29, 1957). During its first meeting, the ANDB established a committee to study the military tactical air navigation system (TACAN) and the civilian very high frequency omnidirectional range/distance measuring equipment (VOR/DME) to determine which system offered the most benefits for the development of a common system of air navigation (see Jan 14, 1955). The committee consisted of representatives from all the military agencies, the Departments of Commerce and Defense, the National Business Aircraft Association, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and was chaired by Milton W. Arnold of the Air Transport Association. “

”Jan 14, 1955: The VORTAC Committee of the Air Navigation Development Board (ANDB) reported its inability to reach a unanimous decision to resolve the TACAN/VOR-DME controversy (see Jan 1954). Despite the split report of its committee, the ANDB favored development of TACAN. On Feb 8, however, the ANDB issued a press release stating that TACAN was under consideration to replace VOR-DME, the civil system in operation. This was the first public announcement of the TACAN/VOR-DME controversy, and it sparked a series of hearings in public and executive session by the Transportation and Communications Subcommittee of the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. (See Aug 30, 1956.)”

”Aug 30, 1956: The Air Coordinating Committee approved a study panel's recommendation that VOR and TACAN, the separate civil and military air navigation systems, be combined. VORTAC (an acronym used to describe a short-range navigation system, using the VOR directional component and the distance component of TACAN) would become a key element of the civil-military common system of air navigation and air traffic control. (See Jan 14, 1955, and Sep 16, 1985.)”

It is an interesting series of events -- in a geeky, ATC sort of way. I believe it’s indicative of the debate that existed between the FAA and the DOD at the time. The military had their ATC system and the FAA had their ATC system -- and nobody was interested in playing nice with the other. Well, except President Eisenhower.

The difference between the two dates -- Jan 14, 1955 and Aug 30, 1956 -- was 128 bodies.

Don Brown
January 14, 2008

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