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U.S. Government Agencies: U.S. Federal Aviation Administration

Primary Contacts

Department of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20591

General Overview of Agency Activities

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is an operating mode of the Department of Transportation responsible for the safety of civil aviation. The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 created the agency under the name Federal Aviation Agency, adopting its name in 1967 when the FAA became a part of the Department of Transportation.

The FAA's 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

At the FAA's Washington headquarters are the offices of the agency's top officials. Geographically, FAA is divided into nine regions with headquarters in cities from Anchorage to Atlanta. The agency's two largest field facilities are the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center at Oklahoma City, OK, and the William J. Hughes Technical Center at Atlantic City, NJ.

Overview of Regulatory Activities

In the pursuit of safety, the FAA issues rules and sets standards for both aeronautical equipment and people working in the aviation field.

Aircraft certification begins in the manufacturing plant, where FAA experts work with company engineers to ensure high standards of airworthiness. If all goes well, new models receive a type certificate, followed by a certificate authorizing production. Individual planes must also be certificated to ensure their conformity to standards, and the FAA applies the same scrutiny to engines and other components. If problems appear during the service life of an aircraft, the agency issues airworthiness directives requiring corrective action.

Any person involved in operating or maintaining an aircraft must hold an FAA certificate. Pilots must demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and experience prescribed for the type of certificate and rating desired. Similar certification is required for such groups as mechanics, dispatchers, and instructors.

Airlines, too, must have an operating certificate. FAA teams evaluate training, performance, and maintenance to check their continuing compliance. Repair stations, flight schools, and air carrier airports are also covered by certification requirements. These programs carry FAA people into every corner of the aviation world, where they act in cooperation with industry to guarantee high safety standards.

Standards Used in Regulation and Procurement

FAA has incorporated several voluntary consensus standards into its technical regulations including standards developed by the following organizations:

This list may be incomplete and only attempts to name some of the standards developing organizations from which FAA has incorporated standards. For more information:  

. Access the FAA Standards Website

Conformity Assessment

FAA recognizes a variety of conformity assessment approaches on a sector-by-sector basis. For more information:

Access the main U.S. FAA Licenses and Certificates Homepage for more specific information on:

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