What is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 March 2020
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is an agency of the United States government which oversees aviation in the United States. The FAA has famously high standards which are mimicked by aviation agencies in some other countries, and it is an extremely large employer, dispatching inspectors across the United States to enforce its standards. Americans and people traveling in the United States rely on the FAA to keep them safe when they fly.

Early attempts at aviation regulation were made as early as the 1920s, but the FAA did not come into existence until 1958, when it was known as the Federal Aviation Agency. In 1967, the FAA was enfolded into the Department of Transportation, and it acquired its current name. The mission statement of the Federal Aviation Administration stresses the dual goals of increasing air safety and efficiency.

The scope of the FAA is huge. The organization oversees both civil and commercial aviation, along with commercial space aviation. It regularly inspects aircraft, promotes the creation of new technology which supports its mission, and helps to establish navigation systems and air traffic control. The FAA also plays a role in the establishment of new airports and airfields, and it monitors the environment effects of aviation in an attempt to identify potential problem areas and deal with them.


FAA inspectors take their duties very seriously. In addition to inspecting maintenance logs and safety records, these inspectors also physically examine aircraft to ensure that they are safe to fly. FAA inspectors may decide to ground aircraft until safety issues are addressed, and the agency is able to fine violators to ensure that they are penalized for lapses in safety. FAA agents can also recognize people with a particularly good record in the industry, ranging from especially safe pilots to skilled ground crew, through the FAA Wings Program.

FAA regulations encompass everything from lists of prohibited objects on aircraft to systems for managing air traffic control at major airports. All of these regulations are designed to promote safe, efficient air travel in the United States. The FAA also cooperates with international aviation agencies to promote generally safer and more efficient flight around the world.


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