UPDATED With New Research:    March 07, 2017

ATC - Next 30 Years - (1983-2013)
Significant Chronological History -  (1998-99)

 New Updates:   (March 07, 2017) 

The Next 30 Years: 1983-2013

Commercial Aviation and Air Traffic Control



   February 6, 1998 - President Bill Clinton signed legislation into law renaming Washington National Airport the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.




   June 5, 1998 - FAA ordered the retraining of 10,000 air traffic controllers nationwide. Two specific incidents and a general increase in controller errors prompted this action. In April an Air Canada Airbus A-320 jet, taking off from La Guardia, flew directly over a USAir DC-9 jet as it broke off a landing. The two passenger jets came as close as 20 feet from colliding.

The FAA ordered mandatory proficiency training for controllers working in airport towers handling takeoffs and landings.


   June 15, 1998 - Department of Transportation Secretary Slater and National Air Traffic Controllers Association
 President Michael McNally announced a new labor agreement between FAA and NATCA. The new 5-year pact in which a federal labor union negotiated wages, for the first time with a government agency, was a monumental agreement.

New -- NEW BOEING B-717 -- New

    September 2, 1998 - The first flight of a Boeing B-717, a twin-engine, single-aisle jet liner developed by McDonnell Douglas as the MD-95. This airliner entered service in 1999 as the Boeing B-717. Production ceased in May 2006 after 156 were built. Increased competition from regional jets manufactured by Bombardier and Embraer took a heavy toll on sales.


The B-717-200 is designed for short-haul, short-field operations. It can carry 106 passengers in a mixed class configuration up to a range of 2,000 miles. Designed to sustain daily 8 to 12 one-hour flights for fast turnaround at airport gates.

It's BMW/Rolls-Royce BR715 engines were designed for lower fuel consumption, reduced exhaust emissions and significantly lower noise levels. An optional airstair under the main entry door number 1 allows operation at airports where there are no loading bridges or portable stairs.


   September 2, 1998 -  Swissair Flight 111, McDonnell Douglas MD-11 from JFK International Airport in New York to Geneva, Switzerland, with 228 people on board, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the southern coast of Nova Scotia late at night while trying to make an emergency landing. Canadian aviation officials said the three-engine MD-11 had been diverted to Halifax International Airport, about 10 miles north of the Nova Scotia capital, after the flight crew reported smoke in the cockpit or passenger cabin about two hours after take-off.

The crew did not recognize that a fire had started and were not warned by instruments. Once they became aware of the fire, the uncertainty of the problem made it difficult to address. The rapid spread of the fire led to the failure of key display systems, and the crew were soon rendered unable to control the jet. Because he had no light by which to see the controls after the displays failed, the pilot was forced to steer the plane blindly. Recovered fragments of the plane show that the heat inside the cockpit became so great that the ceiling started to melt.   (228 Fatalitiies)

Just after 10:00 PM, the flight crew detected an odor in the cockpit and determined it to be smoke from the air conditioning system. The crew turned off the air conditioning vent. Four minutes later, the odor returned and the smoke became visible, prompting the pilots to make a "pan-pan" radio call to the Air Traffic Control Moncton which controls air traffic over the Province of Nova Scotia.

The "pan-pan" call indicated that there was an urgency due to smoke in the cockpit, but they did not declare an emergency as denoted by a "Mayday" call.

The crew requested a diversion to a convenient airport and were given a vector to the Halifax International Airport in Enfield, Nova Scotia, 66 miles away. At 21,000 feet, the crew requested a fuel dump and was diverted toward St. Margaret's Bay, where it was safer to dump fuel, and still 30 miles from Halifax.

The Swissair checklist, 'in case of smoke of unknown origin', the crew shut off the power supply in the cabin, which also turned off the recirculation fans in the ceiling. This created a vacuum in the ceiling space above the passenger cabin and induced the fire to spread into the cockpit, cutting off the power of the autopilot. Ten seconds later, the crew declared an emergency for the third time.

The captain left his seat to fight the fire that was spreading to the rear of the cockpit. Flight data recording shows that engine No. 2 was shut down due to an engine fire, approximately one minute before impact, indicating the first officer was still alive and trying to take back control of the aircraft until the final moments of the flight.

The jet struck the ocean at an estimated speed of 345 mph in a 20 degree nose down and 110-degree bank, or almost inverted. and with a force of the order of 350G, causing the aircraft to disintegrate instantly.

Investigators stated that flammable material used in the jet's structure allowed a fire to spread beyond the control of the crew, resulting in a loss of control and the crash of the aircraft. The in-flight fire, leading to electrical and instrument failure, caused spatial disorientation and loss of control.

FAA ordered airlines to inspect two lighting dimmer switches that could overheat and emit smoke when installed in the cockpits of McDonnell Douglas MD-11 aircraft. McDonnell Douglas had issued a service bulletin 3 years ago recommending replacement of the switches.


 October 15, 1998 - An FAA Boeing B-727 receiving signals from both U.S. and European satellite navigation networks performed successful flight tests at Icland's Keflavik Airport. The jet performed a series of category-I precision approaches to the runway using onboard equipment that received signals from the FAA national satellite test bed and the United Kingdom's Northern European Satellite Test Bed.



    November 6, 1998 - President Clinton dedicated the new Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport in Highfill, Arkansas. He told the audience his administration was working to make the national aviation system better able to handle the 50% increase in global travel in the coming 7 years. He added that the FAA and other agencies were working together "...to convert our air traffic control system to satellite technology, to change the way we inspect older aircraft, and most importantly over the long run, to combat terrorism with new equipment, new agents, and new methods."



    December 21, 1998 - FAA's small airplane directorate issued the first U.S. type certificate for a Russian type design, clearing the way for import into the United States. The type certificate was issued at a ceremony at the Ilyushin Aviation Complex plant attended by senior Russian officials and by U.S. Ambassador James Collins.

An all-metal, two-seat propeller-driven aircraft powered by a single 210 HP Teledyne Continental Motors engine with a Hartzell propeller, the Ilyushin IL-103 was certified in the utility category.




   March 11, 1999 - Department of Transportation Secretary Rodney Salter and FAA Administrator Jane Garvey dedicated the newest FAA Air Traffic Control computer system in a ceremony at the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center. The Host and Oceanic Computer System Replacement, known as HOCSR is a key component of the NAS infrastructure modernization program. The new system is more than 4 times faster and orders of magnitude more reliable than its predecessor, while occupying only 1/8 of the floor space of the system it replaced.



   June 1, 1999 - American Airlines Flight 1420, McDonnell Douglas MD-82, from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Little Rock, Arkansas overran the runway upon landing in Little Rock and crashed. Eleven of the 145 people aboard, the captain and 10 passengers were killed in the crash.    (11 Fatalitiies)


Air traffic controllers issued a weather advisory indicating severe thunderstorms in an area that included the Little Rock airport. Nashville International Airport was designated as an alternate airport or they could have turned back to DFW. The flight crew witnessed lightning produced by the storm while on approach to Little Rock.

The crew was told to expect an approach to Runway 22L, but because of a windshear alert and a change in wind direction, the captain requested Runway 4R for a headwind during landing. Because they were already close to the airport, they were directed away from the airport in order to line them up for a landing on Runway 4R. This resulted in the jet facing away from the airport, and the first officer notified the controller that they had lost sight of the runway because the jet's weather radar had a narrow and forward-facing field of view and they could not see thunderstorms approaching the airport during their turn.

The pilots rushed to land as soon as possible, leading to errors in judgment that included the crew's failure to complete the pre-landing checklist. This was a crucial event as the crew overlooked multiple critical landing systems on the checklist, including failure to arm the automatic spoiler system, failure to set the jet's automatic braking system - both essential to ensure the plane's ability to stop within the confines of a wet runway, especially one that is being subjected to strong and gusting winds. They also failed to set landing flaps.

Two seconds after the wheels touched down, the jet's brakes were ineffective at slowing down the plane continuing down the runway at high speed. Directional control was lost when too much reverse thrust was applied, which reduced the effectiveness of the plane's rudder and vertical stabilizer.


The jet continued past the end of the runway striking a security fence and an ILS localizer, then collided with a structure built to support the landing lights for Runway 22, which extended out into the Arkansas River.

The NTSB conducted extensive testing in order to determine whether the automatic spoiler and brake systems had been armed prior to landing. The NTSB also focused on pilot behavior in inclement weather, to determine what impact the storms had on the pilots' decision-making process while approaching the Little Rock airport.

A study by experts from MIT recording behavior of pilots willing to land in thunderstorms found that pilots exhibited more recklessness if they fell behind schedule; if they were attempting to land at night; and if aircraft in front of them successfully landed in bad weather. Some pilots were less cautious if they were approaching their on-duty limits.


   July 13, 1999 - Former FAA administrator Donald Engen died in the crash of a glider fitted with a small motor. A distinguished U.S. Navy and test pilot who retired as a vice admiral, Engen was 75.


July 16, 1999 - John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife, Carolyn, and her sister, Lauren, were killed when their Piper PA-32R-301, Saratoga II, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. They departed from Essex County Airport in Fairfield, New Jersey flying to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.        (3 Fatalitiies)


Kennedy began taking flying lessons at the Flight Safety Academy in Vero Beach, Florida, and received his pilot's license in April 1998. He did not have an instrument rating (IFR) and was certified to fly only under visual flight rules (VFR). Kennedy had purchased the Saratoga just 3 months before his death. His estimated flying time was about 300 hours, of which 55 hours were at night. His estimated flight time in the Saratoga was about 36 hours. The Saratoga was a more complex airplane then the Cessna Skylane-182 that he previously flew.

Kennedy attended private schools in New York City and graduated from high school at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. He majored in American studies at Brown University. He graduated in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in American studies. In 1989 he earned a J.S. degree from the New York University School of Law. He worked as a journalist for the New York Times, and with a friend created "George" Magazine.


The NTSB determined that the probable cause of this crash was pilot error. Kennedy's failure to maintain control of the airplane during a descent over water at night, resulted in spatial disorientation.


    October 25, 1999 - A Learjet 35 operated by Sunjet Aviation of Sanford, Florida, departed Orlando International Airport (MCO) on a 2-day, 5-flight trip. Before departure the jet had been fueled with 5,300 lb of jet fuel, enough for 4 hours and 45 minutes of flight. On board were 2 pilots and 4 passengers. One passenger was professional golfer Payne Stewart.     (6 Fatalitiies)

The air traffic controller at Jacksonville ARTCC instructed the pilot to climb and maintain flight level 390 (39,000 feet). The pilot acknowledged. This was the last known radio transmission from the jet, and occurred while the jet was passing through 23,000 feet.

The next attempt to contact the aircraft occurred 2 minutes later with the aircraft at 36,500 feet. Trying to contact the aircraft 5 more times in the next 4 1/2 minutes, they received no response.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 test pilot from Eglin AFB in Florida was directed by controllers to intercept the Learjet. At about 46,000 feet, the test pilot made a visual inspection of the Lear, and found no visible damage. Both engines were running, and the plane's red rotating anti-collision beacon was on. The fighter pilot could not see inside the passenger section of the airplane because the windows seemed to be dark. He also said that the entire right cockpit windshield was opaque, as if condensation or ice covered the inside. He also indicated that the left cockpit windshield was opaque.

Almost 3 hours into the flight, two F-16s from the Oklahoma Air National Guard were directed by Minneapolis ARTCC to intercept the Learjet. They reported no movement in the cockpit and that the windshield was dark and they couldn't tell if the windshield was iced.

A third intercept and escort, two F-16s from the North Dakota Air National Guard also reported cockpit window ice and no movement in any of the control surfaces.

The cockpit voice recorder indicated the engines were winding down and that the plane's fuel had been exhausted. The F-16 pilot said the Learjet was in a descending spiral, and after almost 4 hours the aircraft hit the ground at nearly supersonic speed and an extreme angle, crashing in South Dakota.

The NTSB  listed the probable cause of this accident as the incapacitation of the flight crew members as a result of their failure to receive supplemental oxygen following a loss of cabin pressurization. They also found that the plane had several instances of maintenance work related to cabin pressure, and that at least one instance the plane was flown with an unauthorized maintenance deferral for cabin pressure problems.


Payne Stewart was heading to Houston for the 1999 Tour Championship, but planned a stop in Dallas for discussions with the athletic department of his alma mater, Southern Methodist University, about building a new home course for the school's golf program.


   October 31, 1999 - Egypt Air Flight 990, a Boeing B-767, from Los Angeles to Cairo, Egypt with a stop at JFK in New York, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean about 60 miles south of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, killing all 217 people on board. The Boeing  B-767 rapidly descended, nose first toward the Atlantic Ocean. The dive was corrected only to be repeated immediately. (217 Fatalitiies)

The NTSB, based on recorded conversations in the cockpit, noted that there were 3 pilots in the cockpit at take-off. The command captain, the command first officer, and the relief first officer. The captain was meant to control the first part of the flight while the relief slept and then they would switch.

But, 20 minutes after take-off the relief said he would not be sleeping, so he would like to control the first portion of the flight while the captain got some sleep. He objected at first saying that he should have been told before, as he had already slept in preparation for the first part of the flight. Some agreement was made that they would switch.

The command pilot left to use the bathroom, and the relief pilot then moved the throttle from cruise to idle and put in the commands for the plane to go into a steep nosedive.

The NTSB concluded that this crash was a result of actions taken by the relief pilot. The reason is unknown why the relief pilot commanded the plane to dive. Egyptian officials contest these conclusions and claim that investigators in the United States were not thorough and that their conclusion is baseless. Their investigation concluded that the crash was a result of a mechanical malfunction. The relief pilot may have been a murderer or he may have been a confused pilot, or he could have been suffering a stroke.

The crash of Egypt Air flight 990 will be forever a mystery. But, after a two-year investigation, the NTSB concluded that the crash was a suicide by a pilot.

1st 25 Years:   | Pre-FAA | 1959 | 1962 | 1965 | 1967 | 1968 | 1970 | 1972 | 1974 | 1977 | 1979 | 1981 | 1982
 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 |
99 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 |  

Last revised: March 07, 2017

Copyright 2017 by RWF2000 Internet Consulting