Federal Aviation Act Of 1958 <





The Federal Aviation Act Of 1958



The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 did away with the Civil Aeronautics Administration and established the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In addition, the Act transferred the authority to set aviation regulations from the Civil Aeronautics Board to the FAA. This Act grants the FAA sole responsibility for the nation's civil-military system of air navigation and air traffic control. Today, the aviation regulations are known as the FARs (Federal Aviation Regulations). 

The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 was an act of Congress that created the Federal Aviation Agency (later the Federal Aviation Administration or the FAA) and abolished its predecessor, the Civil Aeronautics Administration. The act empowered the FAA to oversee and regulate safety in the airline industry and the use of American airspace by both civilian aircraft and military aircraft.


Aviation in the United States was unregulated until the Air Commerce Act became law in 1926. The Act created an Aeronautic Branch within the United States Department of Commerce with regulatory powers over civil aviation. Among the functions the Aeronautic Branch performed were pilot testing and licensing, issuing aircraft airworthiness certificates, establishing and enforcing safety regulations. The agency was also responsible for establishing airways and operating and maintaining aids to air navigation, in addition to investigating accidents and incidents. 

In 1934, the Aeronautics Branch was renamed the Bureau of Air Commerce. The Bureau in 1936 took over air traffic control centers previously operated by commercial airlines, and began to expand the air traffic control system. 

In 1938, the Civil Aeronautics Act moved oversight non-military aviation into a new, independent agency, the Civil Aeronautics Authority. The new agency gained the authority the power to regulate fares and routes for commercial airlines. Another change followed in 1940, with CAA's authority being split. The CAA continued to have authority for air traffic control, safety, and promotion of civil aviation. The new Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) was established and had responsibility for accident investigation, as well as regulation of safety of civil aviation and pricing of commercial aviation. 

A boom in the 1950s of aircraft technology and the aviation industry crowded American airspace and regulation of air traffic was considered antiquated. An ensuing series of plane accidents prompted the creation of this bill.  

On the morning of June 30, 1956, United Flight 718 collided with TWA Flight 2 over the Grand Canyon, resulting in 128 fatalities, which was at the time the largest loss of life in an aviation accident. This high profile accident, which took place in uncontrolled airspace, raised public concern for airline safety. In 1957 Congress passed the Airways Modernization Act that established the Airways Modernization Board (AMB) headed by General Elwood Quesada.  

A subsequent mid-air collision between a military jet and a commercial airliner over Brunswick, Maryland on May 20, 1958, showed further imperfections in the the regulation of air traffic, particularly the need for unified control of airspace for civil and military flights. The day after the Brunswick collision, Senator Mike Monroney and Representative Oren Harris introduced the Federal Aviation Act. 

Citing "recent midair collisions of aircraft occasioning tragic losses of human life," President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced the White House's support of the legislation on June 13. The legislation passed Congress and was signed into law by Eisenhower on August 23, 1958. Eisenhower appointed AMB Chairman Quesada the first FAA Administrator.

The Need For Federal Aviation Regulation


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