Chief to Lead Industry Group—New York Times].</ref>[1] }} The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the national aviation authority of the United States. An agency of the United States Department of Transportation, it has authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil aviation in the U.S. The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 created the organization under the name "Federal Aviation Agency", and adopted its current name in 1966 when it became a part of the United States Department of Transportation.

The FAA's major roles include:

  • Regulating U.S. commercial space transportation
  • Regulating air navigation facilities' geometry and flight inspection standards
  • Encouraging and developing civil aeronautics, including new aviation technology
  • Issuing, suspending, or revoking pilot certificates
  • Regulating civil aviation to promote safety, especially through local offices called Flight Standards District Offices
  • Developing and operating a system of air traffic control and navigation for both civil and military aircraft
  • Researching and developing the National Airspace System and civil aeronautics
  • Developing and carrying out programs to control aircraft noise and other environmental effects of civil aviation


In December 2000, an organization within FAA called the Air Traffic Organization,[2] or ATO, was set up by presidential executive order. This became the Air Navigation Service Provider for the airspace of the United States and for the New York (Atlantic) and Oakland (Pacific) oceanic areas. It is a full member of the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation.

FAA issues a number of awards to holders of its licenses. Among these are demonstrated proficiencies as an aviation mechanic, a flight instructor, a 50-year aviator, or as a safe pilot. The latter, the FAA "Wings Program", provides a series of ten badges for pilots who have undergone several hours of training since their last award. A higher level can be claimed each year. For more information see "FAA Advisory Circular 61-91H".

On March 18, 2008, FAA ordered its inspectors to reconfirm that airlines are complying with federal rules after revelations that Southwest Airlines flew dozens of aircraft without certain mandatory inspections.[3] FAA exercises surprise Red Team drills on national airports annually.

Regions and Aeronautical Center OperationsEdit

From an operational standpoint, FAA is divided into nine regions plus Headquarters[4] in Washington, DC, the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, and the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center[5] in Oklahoma City. The nine regions are[6]

  • Alaskan[7] – Anchorage, Alaska
  • Northwest Mountain[8] – Renton, WA
  • Western Pacific[9] – Hawthorne, CA
  • Southwest[10] – Fort Worth, TX
  • Central[11] – Kansas City, MO
  • Great Lakes[12] – Chicago, IL
  • Southern[13] – Atlanta, GA
  • Eastern[14] – New York City
  • New England[15] – Burlington, MA


File:DOT-FAA Headquarters by Matthew Bisanz.JPG

The Air Commerce Act of May 20, 1926, is the cornerstone of the federal government's regulation of civil aviation. This landmark legislation was passed at the urging of the aviation industry, whose leaders believed the airplane could not reach its full commercial potential without federal action to improve and maintain safety standards. The Act charged the Secretary of Commerce with fostering air commerce, issuing and enforcing air traffic rules, licensing pilots, certifying aircraft, establishing airways, and operating and maintaining aids to air navigation. The newly created Aeronautics Branch, operating under the Department of Commerce assumed primary responsibility for aviation oversight.

In fulfilling its civil aviation responsibilities, the Department of Commerce initially concentrated on such functions as safety regulations and the certification of pilots and aircraft. It took over the building and operation of the nation's system of lighted airways, a task that had been begun by the Post Office Department. The Department of Commerce improved aeronautical radio communications and introduced radio beacons as an effective aid to air navigation.

The Aeronautics Branch was renamed the Bureau of Air Commerce in 1934 to reflect its enhanced status within the Department. As commercial flying increased, the Bureau encouraged a group of airlines to establish the first three centers for providing air traffic control (ATC) along the airways. In 1936, the Bureau itself took over the centers and began to expand the ATC system. The pioneer air traffic controllers used maps, blackboards, and mental calculations to ensure the safe separation of aircraft traveling along designated routes between cities.

In 1938, the Civil Aeronautics Act transferred the federal civil aviation responsibilities from the Commerce Department to a new independent agency, the Civil Aeronautics Authority. The legislation also expanded the government's role by giving them the authority and the power to regulate airline fares and to determine the routes that air carriers would serve.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt split the authority into two agencies in 1940, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) and the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB). CAA was responsible for ATC, airman and aircraft certification, safety enforcement, and airway development. CAB was entrusted with safety regulation, accident investigation, and economic regulation of the airlines. The CAA was part of the Department of Commerce. The CAB was an independent federal agency.

On the eve of America's entry into World War II, CAA began to extend its ATC responsibilities to takeoff and landing operations at airports. This expanded role eventually became permanent after the war. The application of radar to ATC helped controllers in their drive to keep abreast of the postwar boom in commercial air transportation. In 1946, meanwhile, Congress gave CAA the added task of administering the federal-aid airport program, the first peacetime program of financial assistance aimed exclusively at promoting development of the nation's civil airports.

The approaching era of jet travel, and a series of midair collisions (most notable was the 1956 Grand Canyon mid-air collision), prompted passage of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958. This legislation gave the CAA's functions to a new independent body, the Federal Aviation Agency. The act transferred air safety regulation from the CAB to the new FAA, and also gave the FAA sole responsibility for a common civil-military system of air navigation and air traffic control. The FAA's first administrator, Elwood R. Quesada, was a former Air Force general and adviser to President Eisenhower.

The same year witnessed the birth of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), created in the wake of the Soviet launching of the first artificial satellite. NASA assumed NACA's role of aeronautical research while achieving world leadership in space technology and exploration.

In 1967, a new U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) combined major federal responsibilities for air and surface transport. The Federal Aviation Agency's name changed to the Federal Aviation Administration as it became one of several agencies (e.g., Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, the Coast Guard, and the Saint Lawrence Seaway Commission) within DOT (albeit the largest). The FAA administrator would no longer report directly to the president but would instead report to the Secretary of Transportation. New programs and budget requests would have to be approved by DOT, which would then include these requests in the overall budget and submit it to the president.

At the same time, a new National Transportation Safety Board took over the Civil Aeronautics Board's (CAB) role of investigating and determining the causes of transportation accidents and making recommendations to the secretary of transportation. CAB was merged into DOT with its responsibilities limited to the regulation of commercial airline routes and fares.

FAA gradually assumed additional functions. The hijacking epidemic of the 1960s had already brought the agency into the field of civil aviation security. In response to the hijackings on September 11, 2001, this responsibility is now primarily taken by the Department of Homeland Security. FAA became more involved with the environmental aspects of aviation in 1968 when it received the power to set aircraft noise standards. Legislation in 1970 gave the agency management of a new airport aid program and certain added responsibilities for airport safety. During the 1960s and 1970s, FAA also started to regulate high altitude (over 500 feet) kite and balloon flying.

File:FAA Joint Surveillance Site Canton Michigan.JPG

By the mid-1970s, the agency had achieved a semi-automated air traffic control system using both radar and computer technology. This system required enhancement to keep pace with air traffic growth, however, especially after the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 phased out the CAB's economic regulation of the airlines. A nationwide strike by the air traffic controllers union in 1981 forced temporary flight restrictions but failed to shut down the airspace system. During the following year, the agency unveiled a new plan for further automating its air traffic control facilities, but progress proved disappointing. In 1994, FAA shifted to a more step-by-step approach that has provided controllers with advanced equipment.[16]

In 1979 the Congress authorized FAA to work with major commercial airports to define noise pollution contours and investigate the feasibility of noise mitigation by residential retrofit programs. Throughout the 1980s these charters were implemented.

In the 1990s, satellite technology received increased emphasis in FAA's development programs as a means to improvements in communications, navigation, and airspace management. In 1995, the agency assumed responsibility for safety oversight of commercial space transportation, a function begun eleven years before by an office within DOT headquarters. The agency was responsible for the decision to ground flights after the September 11 attacks.


Many experts on FAA have been critical of what they perceive as fundamental problems with the agency in conducting oversight on the airlines and pilots, predicated on the belief, as expressed by FAA itself, that both the airlines and pilots are their customers. Retired NASA Office of Inspector General Senior Special Agent Joseph Gutheinz, who formerly was a Special Agent with both the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General and FAA Security, is one of the most outspoken critics of FAA. Rather than commend the agency for imposing a 10.2 million dollar fine against Southwest Airlines for its failure to conduct mandatory inspections in 2008, he was quoted as saying the following in an Associated Press story: "Penalties against airlines that violate FAA directives should be stiffer. At $25,000 per violation, (which is how the 10.2 million dollar figure was reached) Gutheinz said, airlines can justify rolling the dice and taking the chance on getting caught. He also said the FAA is often too quick to bend to pressure from airlines and pilots."[17]Template:Dead link[18][19]Template:Dead link

Other experts have been critical of the constraints and expectations of the under which the FAA is expected to operate. The dual role of encouraging aerospace travel and regulating aerospace travel are counter intuitive. For example; to levy a heavy penalty upon an airline for violating an FAA regulation which would impact their ability to continue operating would not be considered, encouraging aerospace travel. Risk and safety management author David Soucie[20] who served 17 years as a safety inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration including 4 years in the FAA headquarters office in Washington DC discusses this issue in his book [21]

List of FAA AdministratorsEdit

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  • Elwood Richard Quesada (Nov 1, 1958 – Jan 20, 1961)
  • Najeeb Halaby (Mar 3, 1961 – Jul 1, 1965)
  • William F. McKee (Jul 1, 1965 – Jul 31, 1968)
  • John H. Shaffer (Mar 24, 1969 – Mar 14, 1973)
  • Alexander Butterfield (Mar 14, 1973 – Mar 31, 1975)
  • John L. McLucas (Nov 24, 1975 – Apr 1, 1977)
  • Langhorne Bond (May 4, 1977 – Jan 20, 1981)
  • J. Lynn Helms (Apr 22, 1981 – Jan 31, 1984)
  • Donald D. Engen (Apr 10, 1984 – Jul 2, 1987)
  • T. Allan McArtor (Jul 22, 1987 – Feb 17, 1989)
  • James B. Busey (Jun 30, 1989 – Dec 4, 1991)
  • Thomas C. Richards (Jun 27, 1992 – Jan 20, 1993)
  • David R. Hinson (Aug 10, 1993 – Nov 9, 1996)
  • Jane Garvey (Aug 4, 1997 – Aug 2, 2002)
  • Marion Blakey (Sept 12, 2002 – Sept 13, 2007)
  • Robert A. Sturgell (Sept 14, 2007 – Jan 15, 2009)
  • Lynne Osmus (Jan 16, 2009 – May 31, 2009)
  • Randy Babbitt (Jun 1, 2009 – Dec 6, 2011)

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FAA processEdit

Designated Engineering RepresentativeEdit

A Designated Engineering Representative (DER) is an engineer who is appointed to act on behalf of a Company or as an individual Consultant.[22]

  • Company DERs act on behalf of their employer and may only approve, or recommend approval, of technical data to the FAA for this company.
  • Consultant DERs are appointed to act as an independent DER to approve or recommend approval of technical data to the FAA.

References Edit

External links Edit

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