What Is The FAA?

Federal Aviation Administration

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for ensuring the safety of civil aviation; it is functions as agency within the US Department of Transportation.


Commercial airplane in flight, rear view
Yasuhide Fumoto/Digital Vision/Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 created the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) and gave it broad authority to combat aviation hazards as well broad rulemaking power. In addition, the FAA has sole responsibility for developing and maintaining a common civil-military system of air navigation and air traffic control. In 1968, Congress gave the FAA the power to set aircraft noise standards.

Today, the agency's mission is "to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world."

See additional information on purpose.


The FAA issues and enforces regulations and minimum standards covering manufacturing, operating, and maintaining aircraft. In addition, the FAA certifies airmen and airports that serve air carriers.

In addition, the FAA operates a network of airport towers, air route traffic control centers, and flight service stations ... in the process, assigning the use of airspace and controlling air traffic.

Accidents and Incidents

The FAA maintains a database of accident and incident data; actual reports and statistics come from the National Transportation Safety Board.


The FAA evolved from the Air Commerce Act of 1926, the federal government's first initiative to regulate civil aviation. In 1938, the Civil Aeronautics Act transferred federal civil aviation responsibilities from the Commerce Department to a new independent agency, the Civil Aeronautics Authority. In 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt split the Authority into two agencies, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) and the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB). The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 transferred CAA's functions to a new independent body, the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA).

In 1966, Congress created the Department of Transportation (DOT); the FAA became part of the new agency.

More FAA History


Learn more at http://www.faa.gov/