Tuesday, January 15, 2008

FAA History Lesson -- January 15



This day’s entries provide a special education in the FAA’s history. There are three events listed for the same day, in the same year, that demonstrate how difficult it can be to determine what is important (and what is not) -- today -- in the here and now.

Especially in today’s world, so many events happen at the same time. Take a look at any day’s headlines and try to determine what is important. For instance, on this day the very first Super Bowl was played. Do you think anyone realized what an institution that would become ? Muammar al-Qaddafi was proclaimed premier of Libya. Do you think any regular citizen in America even noticed ? On the very date of these three entries from the FAA’s history -- January 15, 1969 -- the Soviets launched Soyuz 5. Do you think anyone even noticed that the U.S. Civil Service Commission issued a ruling about some obscure employee organization ?

Read the entries below. Think about them in the context of the time -- 1969. Vietnam, the space race, campus unrest. 1969 was a crazy year. Which of these events gained notice ? Which one had deep, unintened consequences ? Which one lasted ?

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

”Jan 15, 1969: The U.S. Civil Service Commission (CSC) ruled that the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) was an employee organization, not a professional society, because it had sought and obtained a dues-withholding agreement. FAA had agreed to permit a voluntary payroll deduction plan for the payment of PATCO dues with the understanding that PATCO would remain a professional society. As a result of the CSC ruling, PATCO became subject to the Standards of Conduct and the Code of Fair Labor Practices. At the same time, however, PATCO became eligible for formal recognition as a labor bargaining organization under Executive Order 10988. (See Jul 19, 1968, and Jun 11, 1969.)

Jan 15, 1969: FAA adopted a method of regulating the flow of traffic into the Metropolitan New York area. The new procedures went into effect each time the delay forecast for IFR aircraft flying into New York exceeded one hour. When this happened, the flow of air traffic into New York was limited by keeping New York-bound aircraft on the ground at their points of departure. Though the new procedures did little or nothing to reduce the length of delays incurred by New York-bound aircraft, they did reduce the length of time spent in airborne holding patterns to an hour or less. This, in turn, reduced congestion on the airways leading to New York and facilitated the flow of non-New York traffic using or crossing these routes. (See Jul 19, 1968, and Jun 25, 1970.)

Jan 15, 1969: The Boeing Company submitted to FAA for evaluation a new supersonic transport (SST) configuration, a delta-wing design with a horizontal tail. A 100-person review team drawn from FAA, NASA, and the Defense Department found that Boeing had adequately integrated the new design.

In February, President Nixon appointed an interdepartmental committee headed by Under Secretary of Transportation James M. Beggs to review the SST program. The committee’s report, submitted in early April, contained mixed views on the program’s future. Secretary of Transportation Volpe, however, continued to advise in favor of the program. “


Don Brown
January 15, 2008

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