Half a century after Wilbur and Orville Wright flew an airplane for 12 seconds in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903?becoming the first U.S. residents to successfully fly a powered aircraft?Congress established the Federal Aviation Agency, later renamed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (49 U.S.C.A. § 106). Under the act, the FAA became responsible for all the following:
Regulating air commerce to promote its development and safety and to meet national defense requirements
Controlling the use of navigable airspace in the United States and regulating both civil and military operations in that airspace in the interest of safety and efficiency
Promoting and developing civil AERONAUTICS, which is the science of dealing with the operation of civil, or nonmilitary, aircraft
Consolidating research and development with respect to air navigation facilities
Installing and operating air navigation facilities
Developing and operating a common system of air traffic control and navigation for civil and military aircraft
Developing and implementing programs and regulations to control aircraft noise, sonic booms, and other environmental effects of civil aviation
A component agency of the DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ever since the Department of Transportation Act was passed in 1967 (49 U.S.C.A. § 1651), the FAA engages in a variety of activities to fulfill its responsibilities. One vital activity is safety regulation. The FAA issues and enforces rules, regulations, and minimum standards relating to the manufacture, operation, and maintenance of aircraft. In the interest of safety, the FAA also rates and certifies people working on aircraft, including medical personnel, and certifies airports that serve air carriers. The agency performs flight inspections of air navigation facilities in the United States and, as required, abroad. It also enforces regulations under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (49 U.S.C.A. app. 1801) as they apply to air shipments. In 1994, the FAA employed 2,500 safety inspectors, who oversaw 7,300 planes operated by scheduled airlines, 200,000 other planes, 4,700 repair stations, 650 pilot training schools, and 190 maintenance schools. FAA inspectors use a six-inch-thick book called the Airworthiness Inspector's Handbook in their work. They have significant power, including the ability to delay or ground aircraft deemed non-airworthy and to suspend the license of pilots and other flight personnel who break FAA rules.
Another primary activity of the FAA is to manage airspace and air traffic, with the goal being to ensure the safe and efficient use of the United States' navigable airspace. To meet this goal, the agency operates a network...