We close this issue of Aviation Centerline with a brief mix of information that we hope will be of interest.

ATC 75th Anniversary

On July 6, 2011, the Federal Aviation Administration celebrated the 75th anniversary of federal air traffic control. As noted in the FAA’s press release:1

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.

Since then, the air traffic system has expanded from three control centers to include 131 federal stand-alone airport traffic control towers, 132 towers for terminal area approach control, 29 stand-alone terminal radar approach controls and 21 en route traffic control centers. The number of controllers has grown from 15 to more than 15,000, a workforce that handles an average of 50,000 flights each day. The DC-3 has given way to jet aircraft that can carry hundreds of passengers and fly from New York to Los Angeles in about five hours.

NTSB’s Modernized Website

Good news for everyone who has been anxiously waiting for the National Transportation Safety Board to modernize its website: the wait is finally over - the modernized website has been launched.2

NTSB’s “Most Wanted List”

Coinciding with the launch of its modernized website, the NTSB unveiled its 2011 “Most Wanted List.” The NTSB’s Most Wanted List was developed in 1990 and is issued annually. It focuses on critical issues that the NTSB believes need to be addressed in order to improve transportation safety. According to NTSB Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman: “The Most Wanted List is the most powerful tool we have to highlight our priorities.”3

Two press releases were issued by the NTSB in connection with the 2011 Most Wanted List. The first announced the press conference at which the board members would provide the details of the list.4 The second unveiled the 10 issues on the list.5

The NTSB’s modernized website is well-suited for presentation of the Most Wanted issues. Each issue has its own section on the website, including a description of the issue, a discussion of what can be done to address the issue, copies of related reports, and copies of related recommendation letters.

The following 10 issues made the Most Wanted list (displayed on the website in this order):6

  • Addressing Human Fatigue7


  • General Aviation Safety8


  • Safety Management Systems9


  • Runway Safety10


  • Bus Occupant Safety11


  • Pilot and Air Traffic Controller Professionalism12


  • Recorders13


  • Teen Driver Safety14


  • Addressing Alcohol-Impaired Driving15


  • Motorcycle Safety16