Tuesday, July 12, 2011

FAA History Lesson -- July 2011

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

”Jul 6, 1936: Federal air traffic control began as the Bureau of Air Commerce took over operation of the three airway traffic control centers at Newark, Chicago, and Cleveland. Up to this time, these centers had been operated by private airline companies (see Dec 1, 1935). The centers were placed under Earl F. Ward, whose appointment as Supervisor, Airway Traffic Control, had been announced on Mar 6, 1936. Ward reported to the chief of the Airline Inspection Service within the Air Regulation Division. When the Bureau assumed control of the centers, it hired fifteen center employees to become the original Federal corps of airway controllers. “

This is what happens when you go on vacation -- you miss anniversaries.

Most of my readers should know the story of the Federal Government asking the airlines to run the Centers until...well, no need to explain it. Just read it for yourself.

”Nov 12-14, 1935: Representatives of all segments of the aviation community, except manufacturers, met at the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C., with Bureau of Air Commerce officials to discuss airway
traffic control. Although the conferees agreed that the Bureau should establish a uniform system of air traffic control, a lack of funding prevented it from assuming control. Director of Air Commerce Vidal convinced the airline operators to establish airway traffic control immediately and promised that in 90 to 120 days the Bureau of Air Commerce would take over the operations. (See Mar 24, 1936.) On Nov 15, Vidal approved an interairline air traffic agreement between carriers flying the Chicago-Cleveland- Newark airway. He also relaxed the general ban on instrument flying by private fliers (see Nov 1, 1935). Those pilots could now fly by instruments if they filed a flight plan with the Bureau of Air Commerce and with at least one airline flying over the route they planned to use. ”

Most of my readers would surmise that something bad had happened to put everybody in such a rush.

”May 6, 1935: A Transcontinental and Western Air (TWA) DC-2 crashed near Atlanta, Mo., killing five of the eight persons aboard. Senator Bronson M. Cutting (R-N.Mex.) was among the fatalities. ”

I think it ironically fitting that ATC began in the Great Depression and it celebrates its 75th anniversary in the Great Recession. We’ve come so far to have learned so little. Or perhaps it would be more revealing to say, our technical progress has been amazing...for so little to have changed about human nature.

Don Brown
July 12, 2011

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