Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the agency of the United States Department of Transportation responsible for the regulation and oversight of civil aviation within the U.S., as well as operation and development of the National Airspace System. Its primary mission is to ensure safety of civil aviation.

Primary Responsibilities

The responsibilities of the FAA include:

  • Regulating civil aviation to promote safety within the U.S. and abroad;
  • 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. The FAA licenses commercial space launch facilities and private launches of space payloads on expendable launch vehicles.

Investigation of aviation incidents, accidents and disasters is conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent US government agency.

Along with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) the FAA is one of the two main agencies world-wide responsible for the certification of aircraft.

Organisation of the FAA

FAA is managed by an Administrator, assisted by a Deputy Administrator. Five Associate Administrators report to the Administrator and direct the line-of-business organisations 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.

FAA also has nine geographical regions and two major centers, the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center and the William J. Hughes Technical Center.

Key Activities

The FAA’s key activities may be summarized as:

  • Safety Regulation

Issuing and enforcing regulations and minimum standards covering manufacturing, operating, and maintaining aircraft. Certification of airmen and airports that serve air carriers.

  • Airspace and Air Traffic Management

The safe and efficient use of navigable airspace is one of the FAA’s primary objectives. The Administration operates a network of airport towers, air route traffic control centers, and flight service stations, as well as developing air traffic rules, assignment of the use of airspace, and the control of air traffic.

  • Air Navigation Facilities

The FAA builds/installs visual and electronic aids to air navigation, maintains, operates and assures the quality of these facilities as well as sustains 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

The FAA promotes aviation safety and encourage civil aviation abroad. It exchanges aeronautical information with foreign authorities, certifies foreign repair shops, airmen, and mechanics, provides technical aid and training, negotiates bilateral airworthiness agreements with other countries and takes part in international conferences.

  • Commercial Space Transportation

The FAA regulates and encourages the U.S. commercial space transportation industry, including licensing commercial space launch facilities and private launches of space payloads on expendable launch vehicles.

  • Research, Engineering, and Development

The FAA undertakes research on, and development of, the systems and procedures needed for a safe and efficient system of air navigation and air traffic control. The Administration helps develop better aircraft, engines, and equipment and tests/ evaluates aviation systems, devices, materials, and procedures. It also undertakes aeromedical research.

The FAA’s Role in ATM

The FAA has a complex set of responsibilities in the ATM field. It provides the vast majority of tower-based ATM, including all major airport facilities. It is the sole provider of en-route ATM services in the US. The FAA’s service-provision tasks are undertaken by the Air Traffic Organisation (ATO), which has been established as a functionally separate entity within the FAA’s organisational structure.

At the same time, the FAA is responsible for the safety regulation of all US aviation activities, including ATM. For this purpose, an ATM Safety Oversight organisation has been established within the regulatory division of the FAA with responsibility for oversight of the safety of the ATO’s operations and activities.

Further Reading


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