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Section 2  Title 49, United States Code

1-111    THE FEDERAL AVIATION ACT OF 1958. The Federal Aviation Act (FA Act) was signed into law on August 23, 1958. This Public Law (PL) created the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)—then called the Federal Aviation Agency—and empowered it to promote flight safety in air commerce by prescribing safety standards. It gave the regulatory authority of aviation functions to two independent agencies: the FAA and the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB). The CAB retained responsibility for the economic regulation of air carriers and for the investigation of aircraft accidents. On July 5, 1994, the FA Act, along with many other transportation-related statutes, was recodified into Title 49 of the United States Code (49 U.S.C.). Title 49 U.S.C. § 40101 describes six basic responsibilities of the FAA, which are summarized as follows:

·    Regulation of air commerce to best promote its development and safety and to fulfill national defense requirements;

·    Promotion, encouragement, and development of civil aeronautics;

·    Control of the use of navigable U.S. airspace and the regulation of both civil and military operations in that airspace in the interest of safety and efficiency;

·    Consolidation of air navigation facility research and development, as well as the installation and operation of those facilities;

·    Development and operation of a common air traffic control and navigation system for military and civil aircraft; and

·    Providing assistance to law enforcement agencies in the enforcement of laws related to regulation of controlled substances, to the extent consistent with aviation safety.

1-112    EVOLUTION OF AIR COMMERCE SAFETY REGULATION. In Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, Congress is given the power to regulate and control interstate commerce. Interstate highway, railway, and water modes of transportation were regulated before the advent of air transportation. Air transportation was not regulated until the Air Commerce Act of 1926 empowered the Secretary of Commerce to establish the necessary regulatory system to control and regulate air commerce. The initial regulatory system that was established evolved into an organized system of Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR). The CAR was supplemented by corresponding Civil Aviation Manuals (CAM) which contained policies, procedures, and an interpretation of each CAR section. The CAR and CAM became outmoded with the rapid growth of air transportation and with the introduction of turbojet transport category airplanes in the 1950s. Recodification of the CAR began in 1961 and was completed in 1964 with the adoption of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR).

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1-113    AVIATION REGULATION. Civil aviation regulation is clearly identified in 49 U.S.C. as a major FAA responsibility. The FAA promotes safe and efficient civil aviation by establishing and maintaining federal airways including navigation aids (NAVAID), and by supporting airport development, air traffic control services, and aviation educational programs. The FAA’s principal responsibility in regulating aviation is to ensure safety at all levels of aviation activity. Safety of flight is dependent upon the regulation and compliance with these regulations. Many other nations use Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) as regulatory model for their civil aviation programs. PL 104–264, the Reauthorization Act of 1996, enacted October 10, 1996, eliminated the FAA’s mandate to “promote” aviation.

1-114    THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD (NTSB). The NTSB was established by the Department of Transportation (DOT) Act and was made a part of the DOT on April 1, 1967. The NTSB was given the CAB functions, powers, and duties concerning aviation accident investigations, formulating probable cause of accidents, and making aviation safety improvement recommendations. On April 1, 1975, the NTSB was made an independent agency. By becoming independent of DOT, the NTSB was put in a more objective position for handling evaluations of DOT and FAA actions and officials, and for formulating safety recommendations. Although FAA personnel do participate in aviation accident investigations conducted by the NTSB, they are not permitted to participate in determining the “probable cause” of any aviation accident investigated by the NTSB. At the request of the NTSB, certain aviation accidents are investigated by the FAA. The facts, conditions, and circumstances of these accidents are reported to the NTSB, and the NTSB determines “probable cause.” Based on accident investigation findings, the NTSB recommends changes in aviation regulations, procedures, and equipment to improve aviation safety.

NOTE:  On July 5, 1994, the PLs empowering the NTSB to conduct investigations and adjudication of FAA Enforcement and Penalty cases were recodified into 49 U.S.C., Subtitle II.

1-115    TRANSFER OF CAB FUNCTIONS TO DOT. The Airline Deregulation Act (ADA) was enacted on October 24, 1978. This act expressed the intention of Congress to diminish federal regulation of airline economics. This act abolished the CAB on December 31, 1984. On January 1, 1985, the administrative functions of the CAB were transferred to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST). Included among these administrative functions was the requirement that air carriers be fit, willing, and able to perform as air carriers. Such air carriers must hold economic certificates or an exemption under Title 49 to provide air transportation to the public.

1-116    FLIGHT STANDARDS SERVICE (AFS) AND 49 U.S.C. The FAA regulatory authority to prescribe, revise, and enforce standards is in 49 U.S.C., Subtitle VII, Chapter 447, Safety Regulation. Subtitle VII is the foundation for the present structure of AFS. AFS is directly responsible for specific sections of Subtitle VII while other sections of Subtitle VII are the responsibility of other FAA offices. AFS, however, has surveillance and enforcement responsibilities related to all sections of Subtitle VII. The more important sections of Subtitle VII are briefly summarized as follows:

A.    Section 44701, General Requirements. This section empowers the FAA to promote flight safety for civil aircraft in air commerce. The Administrator has the duty to require minimum standards for governing practices, methods, and procedures to provide for national security and safety in air commerce.

B.    Section 44702, Forms of Applications. The FAA is authorized to prescribe the form and content of applications for certificates. The Administrator may require that these applications be administered under oath.

C.    Section 44703, Airman Certificates. The FAA is authorized to issue airman certificates, which specify the capacity in which holders are authorized to serve as airmen.

D.    Section 44704, Aircraft Certificates. The FAA is authorized to issue type certificates (TC) for aircraft, aircraft engines, and propellers. The Administrator can specify, in regulations, the appliances for which the issuance of TCs is reasonably required, and can also issue those certificates.

E.    Section 44705, Air Carrier Operating Certificates. The FAA is empowered to issue air carrier certificates and to establish minimum safety standards for the operation of the air carrier to whom the certificate is issued.

F.    Section 44706, Airport Operating Certificates. The Administrator is authorized to issue or exempt airport operating certificates to airports serving air carriers certificated by DOT and to establish safety standards for the operation of those airports.

G.    Section 44707, Air Agency Rating. The FAA is authorized to provide for the examination and rating of air agencies, such as civilian flight schools, repair stations, and other air agencies. The Administrator is also authorized to issue certificates for these flight schools, repair stations, and air agencies.

H.    Section 44708, Air Navigation Facility Rating. The FAA is authorized to inspect, classify, and rate the suitability of any air navigation facility available for the use of civil aircraft. The Administrator is also authorized to issue a certificate for any such navigation facility.

I.    Section 44709, Reexamination, Amendment, Suspension, and Revocation of Certificates. The FAA may reinspect any aircraft, air carrier, air agency, or component, and may reexamine any airmen holding an FAA certificate. The FAA may also issue orders that amend, modify, suspend, or revoke, in whole or in part, any type of certificate issued. Any person whose certificate is affected by an order of the Administrator under this section may appeal the Secretary’s order to the NTSB.

J.    Section 44710, Revocation for Controlled Substance Violations. This section provides that the FAA shall revoke the airman certificate of any airman that is convicted of a felony for violation of a controlled substance law if an aircraft was used to commit the offense or if the individual served as a crewmember of an aircraft in connection with committing the offense.

K.    Section 44711, Prohibitions. This section prohibits any person or organization from conducting any air commerce operation unless the person or organization has proper certification and hires personnel who are properly certificated. This section also prohibits persons or organizations from performing any aviation services contrary to regulations prescribed under Subtitle VII.

L.    Section 44713, Maintenance of Equipment in Air Transportation. In this section, each air carrier is given the duty to perform inspections, maintenance, overhaul, and repair of all equipment used in air transportation as required by 49 U.S.C. and the orders, rules, and regulations of the FAA.

M.    Section 44715, Control and Abatement of Aircraft Noise and Sonic Boom. This section provides that the FAA, after consultation with the Secretary of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), shall prescribe and amend standards and regulations for the measurement of aircraft noise and sonic boom.


A.    Private Sector. The term “private sector,” when applied to aviation, encompasses all individuals and organizations participating in air commerce. While individuals and organizations such as pilots, mechanics, air carriers, and manufacturers participate directly in air commerce, other individuals and organizations such as vendors, food caterers, travel agents, baggage handlers, and aircraft sales personnel participate indirectly. The FAA, which is part of the “public sector,” has the duty (authorized by 49 U.S.C., Subtitle VII, Aviation Programs) to establish minimum standards, rules, and national policies to provide adequately for national security and safety in air commerce. This responsibility for aviation safety, however, does not rest entirely with the FAA. Persons or organizations of the “private sector” are also obligated to provide for public safety. All airmen, air carriers, aircraft owners and operators, air agencies, and certain airport operators who qualify for and accept an FAA certificate, assume these “private sector” responsibilities.

B.    Organizations Engaged In Air Transportation. A major part of air commerce is conducted by “private” persons or organizations engaged in air transportation. These persons or organizations are referred to as air carriers and are involved in the “common carriage” by aircraft, for compensation or hire, of persons, property, or mail. Title 49 requires a classification of safety standards appropriate to the differences between air transportation and other forms of air commerce. Therefore, safety standards applicable to air transportation (air carriers) are more stringent than standards applicable to persons or organizations not involved in common carriage.


A.    Section 44702(b). Section 44702(b) specifies, in part, that when prescribing standards and regulations and when issuing certificates, the FAA shall give full consideration to “the duty of an air carrier to provide service with the highest possible degree of safety in the public interest…” 49 U.S.C. charges the FAA with the responsibility for promulgating and enforcing adequate standards and regulations. At the same time, 49 U.S.C. recognizes that the holders of air carrier certificates have a direct responsibility for providing air transportation with the highest possible degree of safety. The meaning of § 744702(b) should be clearly understood. It means that this responsibility rests directly with the air carrier, irrespective of any action taken or not taken by an FAA inspector or the FAA.

B.    Compliance. Before certification, the FAA’s objective is to make a factual and legal determination that a prospective certificate holder is willing and able to fulfill its duties as set forth by 49 U.S.C. and to comply with the minimum standards and regulations prescribed by the FAA. This objective continues after certification—49 U.S.C. § 44709, specifies that, if a certificate holder fails to comply with the minimum standards and regulations, the FAA may reexamine any certificate holder or appliance. As a result of an inspection, a certificate may be amended, modified, suspended, or revoked, in whole or in part. Additionally, § 44713(b) generally provides that whenever an inspector finds that any aircraft, aircraft engine, propeller, or appliance used or intended to be used by any air carrier in air transportation, is not in condition for safe operation, the inspector shall notify the air carrier, and the product shall not be used in air transportation until the FAA finds that the product has been returned to a safe condition.

1-119    AIR OPERATOR RESPONSIBILITIES FOR PUBLIC SAFETY. The following are conditions and/or situations which could indicate that an air operator is unable and/or unwilling to carry out its duties as set forth by 49 U.S.C.

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A.    Demonstrate the Ability. The FAA views intentional or reckless deviations from regulatory standards (as defined in Volume 14, Chapter 2 and FAA Order 2150.3, chapter 5) or patterns of behavior or performance that present an unacceptable risk to safety as posing the highest risk to safe operation of the National Airspace System (NAS). These types of deviations from regulatory standards are indicative that the air operator is incapable or unwilling to perform services with the highest possible degree of safety. Air operators must demonstrate the ability to consistently comply with the minimum standards and regulations without constant FAA surveillance. Circumstances which indicate a need for constant surveillance of all operations of an air operator may provide sufficient reasons and evidence to invoke the provisions of 49 U.S.C. §§ 44709 and 1153 to suspend or revoke the certificate or to amend the operating authority specified in operations specifications.

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B.    Lack of Knowledge and/or Understanding of Minimum Standards and Safe Practices. Inadequate knowledge of minimum standards, regulations, or safe operating practices displayed by air operator management personnel may indicate a lack of concern for the duty of the air operator as recognized in 49 U.S.C. A lack of knowledge and/or understanding of minimum standards and safe practices displayed by an air operator’s employees may be evidence that the air operator is not providing sufficient training and guidance required by current regulations and, consequently, not fulfilling its duties.

C.    Certificate Holder’s Responsibility. Current regulations specify the certificate holder is responsible for operational control and airworthiness of its aircraft. Control and discipline of an air operator’s employees and agents are essential factors in fulfilling these responsibilities. The inability or lack of motivation to exercise such operational and/or quality airworthiness control clearly indicates that an air operator cannot or will not fulfill its duty.

D.    Accurate Recordkeeping. Accurate recordkeeping is a key factor in assuring positive operational and quality airworthiness control. It is the only method currently recognized of demonstrating that such control has been exercised. Accurate recordkeeping is also the only known method for an air operator to show continuing compliance with the minimum standards and regulations. Usually, compliance can only be substantiated by records and should never be presumed. Inaccurate and/or incomplete records should not be condoned. Knowing and willful falsification or alteration of records is a misdemeanor under 49 U.S.C. § 46310 and should be promptly prosecuted in accordance with the appropriate provisions of the applicable statutes and regulations.

NOTE:  Title 49 U.S.C. and 14 CFR contain the principle that air carriers holding out services to the public must be held to higher standards than the General Aviation (GA) community. Inspectors must also be aware of the private rights of citizens and air carriers. Since public safety and national security are among the FAA’s highest priorities, FAA inspectors must be prepared to take action when any air carrier does not, or cannot, fulfill its duty to perform services with the highest possible degree of safety.

RESERVED. Paragraphs 1-120 through 1-135.