Tuesday, September 23, 2008

FAA History Lesson -- September 23 (08)

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

”Sep 23, 1977: At the end of the 16-month trial of the Anglo-French Concorde supersonic transport at Dulles International Airport (see Feb 4, 1976), Secretary of Transportation Brock Adams announced proposed permanent rules for civil supersonic transport (SST) operations in the United States. Most of these related to the new noise restrictions adopted in 1977. Secretary Adams proposed to exempt the 16 Concordes manufactured before Jan 1, 1980, from retrofit requirements for older jet transports (see Dec 23, 1976), while requiring future SST's to meet all noise standards for newer subsonic aircraft (see Mar 3, 1977). In view of the exceptional loudness of the Concorde, however, the ban on Concorde operations between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. was retained, as was the absolute prohibition on supersonic flight over land. In addition, the Concorde was granted permission to land at Washington, New York, and 11 other American cities.

These proposed regulations became final on Jul 31, 1978, after several more public hearings on the subject. At that time, FAA justified its "grandfather clause" for the first 16 Concordes by noting that they constituted the entire production run of the aircraft. (Because of its high fuel costs and limited payload, the Concorde had been purchased only by the state airlines of France and Britain.) FAA felt that modifications that would bring these aircraft into compliance with subsonic noise standards were neither technologically practicable nor economically reasonable. On the other hand, some restrictions on the Concorde were justified by thorough analysis of FAA test results on the plane's loudness, which showed that the perceived noise generated by a Concorde on its takeoff path was double that of a Boeing 707, four times that of a Boeing 747, and eight times that of a DC-10. FAA also reviewed a number of environmental concerns that had been expressed about SSTs, the most important of which was the fear that emission from SST engines might damage the ozone layer of the earth's atmosphere (see May 5, 1976). Citing a number of recent research studies, including one submitted by the National Academy of Sciences, FAA concluded that the possibility of such damage from the Concordes was too small to be an immediate concern. “

It’s funny how it all turns out. I wonder what kind of regulations we were planning on back when we thought the U.S. would have the first supersonic transport ?

”On Sep 23, 1969, Nixon announced that the SST development program would be continued because the project was essential to maintaining U.S. leadership in world air transport. The President requested Congress to appropriate $96 million during fiscal year 1970 ($662 million over a five year period, fiscal 1970 through fiscal 1974) to pursue the program. (See Oct 21, 1968, and Apr 6, 1970.)“

Do you see how much clearer it all becomes in hindsight ?

Don Brown
September 23, 2008

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