AuthorJeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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The science and art of flight, encompassing the functioning and ownership of aircraft vehicles from balloons to those that travel into space.

Aviation is travel by means of an aircraft that is heavier than air. Aerospace is a term used in reference to the atmosphere and the area beyond. The aerospace industry is involved with the planning and building of vehicles operating in both air and space.

Airspace is the region that extends above real property. Air transportation, as set forth by federal statute, refers to interstate and distant conveyance of people, cargo, and mail by U.S. and foreign aircraft vehicles.

Airspace Rights

The federal government has jurisdiction over airspace within its domain, and each state

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has authority over the space above the grounds within its borders except in places within the domain of federal regulation. An aircraft is subject to the authority of the federal government and to the authority of a particular state while traveling over it. Landowners have air rights that extend upward beyond their property, the boundaries of which are delineated by local ZONING ordinances. These air rights ordinarily may be used to the extent that they are connected to the enjoyment of the property.

Since the general public has a right to freedom of travel in the navigable airspace of the United States, an aircraft may have legal access to airspace above private property. A landowner might have a civil CAUSE OF ACTION for TRESPASS or NUISANCE, however, where an aircraft enters landowner's airspace in such manner as to constitute an infringement on the landowner's right to the use and possession of the property. In some instances the landowner is entitled to an INJUNCTION to prohibit unlawful intrusion of his or her airspace.

Air Transportation Regulation

The FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION(FAA) is the agency with the authority to govern air commerce. The intent of such regulation is to advance the growth and safety of air travel while simultaneously satisfying national defense needs. The director of the FAA has the power to engage in, or monitor, work and testing that will bring about the production of advanced aircraft; to set forth prescribed rules and regulations for the planning and servicing of airplanes; and to administer stringent sanctions if the regulations are not observed. The FAA is also responsible for air traffic control at airports. The NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD (NTSB) is charged with the responsibility of investigating the circumstances surrounding, and the causes of, accidents involving aircraft.

Certificate Requirements

An airplane must have a valid airworthiness certificate in order for it to be lawfully operated. The airworthiness of a plane is determined by an inspector authorized by the FAA. The inspector may neither delegate this duty to inspect the aircraft nor depart from procedures for inspection that have been prescribed by the administrator of the FAA.

The FAA administrator is empowered to create minimum standards for the inspection, maintenance, and repair of air carrier equipment as well as for safe operation of the vehicle. Another important function of the administrator is to issue certificates to eligible aeronautical personnel: that includes pilots, navigators, and people who inspect, maintain, overhaul, and repair aircraft. The administrator specifies the particular function that each of these individuals is qualified to perform.

Certain prerequisites exist for an airline pilot rating, including a great degree of technical skill, medical fitness, care, judgment, and emotional stability. If public safety is endangered, the FAA administrator will either revoke or suspend a pilot's license. A pilot is entitled to notice and a fair hearing before the revocation or suspension of his or her certification, absent an emergency that warrants immediate action. The pilot may appeal the order of suspension or...

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