Understanding the Development of Federal Acts Influencing Aviation Law from the Perspective of an Air Ambulance Crash Attorney


Laws concerning aircraft safety have been on the books since the dawn of aviation at the beginning of the 20th century. Developed to address issues of public safety in the context of emerging developments in transportation, technology and commerce, the following six have shaped the legal landscape for aviation attorneys.

Air Commerce Act of 1926 Aircraft maintenance
This act covers topics including physical fitness and knowledge tests to support the licensing of pilots as well as how the industry must certify and inspect airplanes to verify they are ready to fly. The Air Commerce Act of 1926 also resulted in the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) which is an independent Federal agency charged by Congress with investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States.

2. Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938
Year 1938 saw the development of this act, which led to the creation of the Civil Aeronautics Authority and Air Safety Board, giving the U.S. government regulatory powers over civil aviation including new control over fares and routes. The CAA split into the Civil Aeronautics Administration and the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) in 1940.

3. Federal Aviation Act of 1958
The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 resulted in the Federal Aviation Administration which gave the government a single independent agency to cover efficiency and safety for military and civilian flights. With the establishment of the FAA of 1958, the government reinstated the CAB to govern investigations into accidents and regulate airfares.

4. Airport and Airway Development Act of 1970
Mounting worries from the public over noise pollution along with the environmental impact of the ever-increasing size of the aviation industry prompted congress in establishing the Airport and Airway Development act. It included an airport aid program guided by the FAA and added new responsibilities to the agency to cover safety certification of airports.

5. Airline Deregulation Act of 1978
Growing inefficiencies and higher prices in the airline industry in the 1970’s prompted Congress to take steps to deregulate the industry with this act in 1978 eliminating the CAB. At the same time, the new act now allowed airlines to set their own fares and routes, ushering in a new era of competition and lower fares.

6. Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001
Following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, securing the nation’s skies became a top priority which lead to the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001. This established the Transportation Security Administration inside the Department of Transportation and bolstered the amount of air marshals riding in civilian aircraft. The act created new protocols for in-flight security training along with standards for training the personnel charged with screening passengers at the nation’s airports.