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Federal Aviation Act

The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 was an act of the U.S. Congress that created the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  The act transferred the authority to set aviation regulations from the Civil Aeronautics Board to FAA.  According to the provisions of the act, FAA was given the authority to oversee and regulate safety in the airline industry.

The purpose of the act is[i]:

  • to promote safe air travel; and
  • to protect lives and property of people on the ground as well as air travelers.


The act affirmatively states that the U.S. government has exclusive sovereignty of the airspace of the U.S.  In addition, the act imposes upon the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration the duty to prescribe regulations for[ii]:

  • navigating, protecting, and identifying aircraft;
  • protecting individuals and property on the ground using the navigable airspace efficiently; and
  • preventing collision between aircraft, between aircraft and land and water vehicles, and between aircraft and airborne objects.


Further, the act makes an extensive provision as to carriers by air, safety regulations, security measures protecting passengers from acts of violence and air piracy, measures for the control and abatement of aircraft noise and sonic boom, economic or business regulations, arming of aircraft during a war and at any other time when the President determines that the security of the U.S. is threatened, and as to insurance and reinsurance by the U.S. of aircraft necessary in the interest of air commerce, or national security, or to carry out the foreign policy of the U.S. government.

The act also contains provisions that prohibit a state, political subdivision of a state, or a political authority of at least two states from enacting or enforcing a law, regulation, or other provision which has the force and effect of law in relation to price, route, or a service of an air carrier to provide interstate air transportation[iii].

Further, the act penalizes the following activities:

  • giving false information about an attempt or alleged attempt to do any act which would be a crime under the act, with willful and malicious disregard for the safety of human life; and
  • committing certain acts while aboard an aircraft, and within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the U S, in violation of the Federal Criminal Code.


[i] Lockheed Air Terminal, Inc. v. Burbank, 318 F. Supp. 914 (C.D. Cal. 1970).

[ii] Big Stone Broad., Inc. v. Lindbloom, 161 F. Supp. 2d 1009 (D.S.D. 2001).

[iii] 49 USCS § 41713.

Inside Federal Aviation Act