MIAMI — American and US Airways received their Single Operating Certificate from the FAA Wednesday morning, and the “Cactus” call sign officially become part of the history books when “Cactus 774” lands Wednesday morning.
For the most part, it was business as usual, but ATC and flight crews changed their call signs and announcements to reflect that US Airways is now American.
Many customers who flew on the final day that “Cactus” was heard over ATC said that several US Airways flight crews took a moment to reflect on the significant change that would take place overnight.
The last scheduled US Airways flight to use the “Cactus” call sign was “Cactus 774” which arrived in Philadelphia from London Heathrow around 11:15 AM ET, Wednesday, April 8.
A Single Operating Certificate–also known as a SOC–is a document issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the regulatory process of combining the two subsidiary air carrier certificates under one certificate has been completed. In this particular case, this means that the American and US Airways certificates will officially be combined in the eyes of the FAA, but the merger process is still a bit far from being completed.
It’s taken a little over a year and a team of more than 700 to help train more than 110,000 employees, vet and publish more than 115,000 pages on policies and procedures, complete more than 1,700 Safety Risk Assessments (SRAs), and review 465 manuals. And guess what? Everything was completed on schedule, and the airline is not behind at all.
“Achieving a single operating certificate is an important step toward becoming a fully integrated airline and the effort to reach today’s milestone touched nearly every area of our company,” said Robert Isom, American’s Chief Operating Officer. “For a project of this scope, many entities and people must come together and see it through to completion, but one person must ultimately oversee it in its entirety. With that, our appreciation for the leadership of Captain and Senior Vice President, Integration Operations Ed Bular, who oversaw this massive project, along with the CAVOK Group under the leadership of Vice President Jim Ballough, cannot be overstated. Likewise, our frontline employees and the union leaders who represent them are to be enthusiastically applauded for their role in learning and implementing new policies and procedures and adhering to those as we move forward under one certificate.
“The FAA’s Joint Transition Team, led by Skip Whitrock, helped guide us through a rigorous process designed to ensure that our airline is built on a solid foundation of regulatory compliance. We are extremely appreciative of the valuable direction that Skip, Division Managers Nick Reyes and Larry Fieldsand all at the FAA have provided us over the past year.
“Lastly, as a global airline, this work spanned many regions. We thank the Department of Transportation and regulatory authorities in more than 50 countries who worked alongside us to ensure this critical project remained on track.”
Now, US Airways pilots will begin communicating with air traffic control with the “American” acall sign. The “Cactus” call sign became US Airways’ when it was acquired by America West when the two received their SOC in October 2008. Also, US Airways safety cards will be going away and be replaced with new American ones before morning.
American and US Airways customers will continue to shop for flights, check flight status, and obtain seat assignments on each carrier’s respective website until the company migrates to a single passenger service system which is expected to occur during the fourth quarter of this year.