Aviation law governs all facets of air travel. It impacts those parties that provide air travel services, such as airlines, pilots, maintenance crews, security personnel and air traffic controllers. It also affects those that purchase air travel services, such as passengers and couriers.
Federal Aviation Law
In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) serve as the primary federal agencies that regulate air travel.
- FAA. The FAA issues and enforces regulations on the manufacture, operation and maintenance of aircraft. The FAA also certifies pilots and airports, and provides navigation and air traffic management services to civil and military aircraft.
- NTSB. The NTSB investigates all civil aviation accidents in the United States and issues safety recommendations to prevent future aviation accidents.
- TSA. Created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the TSA checks baggages and screens passengers for security threats.
Although states cannot regulate rates, routes, or services of carriers, they may enact their own laws that are consistent with federal aviation law.
International Laws and Organizations
Because of the international nature of air travel, countries have entered into conventions to normalize the laws that regulate airlines and set forth the rights of passengers. For example, the Warsaw Convention limits the liability of airlines for accidents on international flights, except where the airline engaged in willful misconduct.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) also regulates air travel by providings general rules and mediating international aviation law disputes.