Big One


Big One Essay, Research Paper


The federal government plays an important role in assuring the safety of air travel. It has done so since the enactment of the Air Commerce Act of 1926, and it continues to play a leading role in aviation safety today. Although the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 ended all economic regulation of the airlines, it did not end government regulation of safety. All safety requirements and programs in place at that time are still in force, and many new regulations have been added.

The Federal Aviation Administration

The primary responsibility for airline safety regulations lies with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Congress established the FAA as an agency of the Department of Transportation (DOT) when it created the department in 1967. It is the successor to the Federal Aviation Agency, an independent agency created by the Federal Aviation Act of 1958.

The FAA is responsible for developing, maintaining, and operating the nation’s Air Traffic Control (ATC) system. Nearly three-fourths of the FAA’s 52,000 employees are involved in some aspect of ATC, whose mission it is to ensure the safe separation of aircraft during flight and to sequence aircraft for taxiing, takeoff and landing.

FAA’s other major functions include reviewing the design, manufacture, and maintenance of all aircraft equipment, setting minimum standards for crew training, establishing operational requirements for airlines, and conducting safety-related research and development. In short, it sets the minimum safety standards for the airlines and acts as the public’s watchdog for safety.

Aircraft Certification

Federal law requires that the FAA certify all civil aircraft operating in the United States as airworthy . There are well over 200,000 licensed civil aircraft in the United States; 98% of them are privately owned general aviation aircraft (small planes used primarily for pleasure flying, training, corporate travel and agricultural purposes like crop spraying).

FAA’s certification process begins with the design of an aircraft. FAA aeronautical engineers participate in the design process. They also oversee the construction and testing of the prototype. If all tests are successfully completed, FAA issues a “type certificate” for the new aircraft, followed by a “production certificate” once FAA is satisfied that the manufacturer has everything in place to properly duplicate the prototype.

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