What we do
Summary of Activities
We're responsible for the safety of civil aviation. The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 created the agency under the name Federal Aviation Agency. We adopted our present name in 1967 when we became a part of the Department of Transportation. Our major roles include:
- Regulating civil aviation to promote safety
- Encouraging and developing civil aeronautics, including new aviation technology
- Developing and operating a system of air traffic control and navigation for both civil and military aircraft
- Researching and developing the National Airspace System and civil aeronautics
- Developing and carrying out programs to control aircraft noise and other environmental effects of civil aviation
- Regulating U.S. commercial space transportation
- Safety Regulation
We issue and enforce regulations and minimum standards covering manufacturing, operating, and maintaining aircraft. We certify airmen and airports that serve air carriers.
- Airspace and Air Traffic Management
The safe and efficient use of navigable airspace is one of our primary objectives. We operate a network of airport towers, air route traffic control centers, and flight service stations. We develop air traffic rules, assign the use of airspace, and control air traffic.
- Air Navigation Facilities
We build or install visual and electronic aids to air navigation. We maintain, operate, and assure the quality of these facilities. We also sustain other systems to support air navigation and air traffic control, including voice and data communications equipment, radar facilities, computer systems, and visual display equipment at flight service stations.
- Civil Aviation Abroad
We promote aviation safety and encourage civil aviation abroad. We exchange aeronautical information with foreign authorities; certify foreign repair shops, airmen, and mechanics; provide technical aid and training; negotiate bilateral airworthiness agreements with other countries; and take part in international conferences.
- Commercial Space Transportation
We regulate and encourage the U.S. commercial space transportation industry. We license commercial space launch facilities and private launches of space payloads on expendable launch vehicles.
- Research, Engineering, and Development
We do research on and develop the systems and procedures we need for a safe and efficient system of air navigation and air traffic control. We help develop better aircraft, engines, and equipment and test or evaluate aviation systems, devices, materials, and procedures. We also do aeromedical research.
- Other Programs
We register aircraft and record documents reflecting title or interest in aircraft and their parts. We administer an aviation insurance program, develop specifications for aeronautical charts, and publish information on airways, airport services, and other technical subjects in aeronautics.
An Administrator manages FAA, assisted by a Deputy Administrator. Five Associate Administrators report to the Administrator and direct the line-of-business organizations that carry out the agency's principle functions. The Chief Counsel and nine Assistant Administrators also report to the Administrator. The Assistant Administrators oversee other key programs such as Human Resources, Budget, and System Safety. We also have nine geographical regions and two major centers, the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center and the William J. Hughes Technical Center.