Posted on July 7th, 2011
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration today marked the 75th anniversary of federal air traffic control as American aviation experiences its safest period ever. Since its inception with 15 workers operating in just three control centers in 1936, the agency has become a world leader, pioneering safety improvements and developing new technology to speed up flights, save fuel and improve safety.
“The United States has the safest air transportation system in the world. But as the last 75 years show, we will never stop working to make our system even safer,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
“As a pilot, I am in awe of the aviation safety and technological advancements that have been made in the last 75 years,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “NextGen represents the next milestone in aviation innovation. The FAA is committed to transforming our national airspace system so passengers can reach their destinations even more safely and more efficiently than they do today.”
Federal air traffic control began on July 6, 1936, when the Bureau of Air Commerce took over the operation of the first airway traffic control centers at Newark, N.J., Chicago and Cleveland. Faced with a growing demand for air travel, the 15 employees who made up the original group of controllers took radio position reports from pilots to plot the progress of each flight, providing no separation services. At the time, the fastest plane in the commercial fleet was the Douglas DC-3, which could fly coast-to-coast in about 17 hours while carrying 21 passengers.