The Impact of Aviation Law on the Aviation Industry

The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 ended the Civil Aeronautics Board’s four-decade control over pricing, route certification, and marketplace rules. This act favored competition and eliminated artificial economic constraints.

Everyone in aviation must have a basic understanding of the importance of aviation law and regulations. This includes flight attendants, dispatchers, and pilots.

Airline Deregulation

This October marks the 40th anniversary of airline deregulation, which has dramatically changed aviation. The act made air travel more affordable to a much wider group of Americans and opened the doors for the modern age of air transportation. Before deregulation, 10 major airlines controlled 90% of the industry’s flights. The resulting concentration allowed these companies to increase prices and unreasonably reduce services artificially. The Airline Deregulation Act was passed with bipartisan support. It was spearheaded by the late Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy, who viewed it as a consumer issue and sought the advice of Stephen Breyer, now a Supreme Court Justice. Airline deregulation has lowered airfares and increased passenger numbers, but the benefits have yet to be evenly distributed. Travelers at large and medium hub airports have benefited more than travelers at small and non-hub airports.

Air Traffic Control (ATC)

Air traffic control is responsible for ensuring safe and efficient air travel. This is accomplished by separating aircraft from one another and directing them to their destination. It also ensures that flights follow fuel-efficient flight paths. A successful aviation system is essential for global trade and tourism. It provides the only rapid worldwide transportation network and contributes to economic development and international business and tourism growth.

ATC personnel work shifts in control towers and en-route air traffic control centers (ARTCC). Each crew works in a certain geographical area, so they become familiar with the specific terrain, weather conditions, and unique traffic flows. They are trained to communicate with pilots by radio and use radar systems to monitor air traffic in their assigned areas.

Privatization of ATC could reduce operating costs. However, it is a complex process that requires large facilities and extensive training. In addition, there are concerns about the ability of private companies to invest in new technology and keep up with ATC systems that are constantly evolving.

Commercial Jets

Commercial jets are popular for passenger flights as they are safer, faster and more comfortable. However, they are only one of the airline options as small propeller-powered planes can also fly long distances with little noise and low emissions. As a result, policies should focus on stimulating demand for aircraft by airlines but should not stifle competition by favoring the largest players. This could lead to excessive consolidation and price increases that jeopardize the solvency of smaller players.

In addition to regulating airports, the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) is also responsible for developing and implementing policies ensuring air travelers’ flight safety. This includes establishing regulations for commercial space transportation, air traffic routes and controlling U.S. international waters. The DOT is the largest transportation agency in the world and is governed by federal law. In addition, the U.S. courts have jurisdiction over interpreting federal treaties and conventions. This includes the Montreal Convention on International Civil Aviation. These conventions govern most aspects of international aviation and airlines and set forth the rights of passengers.

General Aviation Revitalization Act (GARA)

Few topics in aviation generate more rage among aircraft owners, pilots, and operators than the high cost of aircraft spare parts. It is a problem rooted in the fact that manufacturers have no control over these costs and can only pass on what they can to their customers. It was against this backdrop that Congress passed GARA in 1994. GARA is a statute of repose that generally shields manufacturers of general aviation aircraft and airplane parts from liability in injury or death cases for accidents occurring on or off U.S. soil, where the manufacturer’s product was 18 years old or older at the time of the accident. When it was enacted, the aero industry hailed GARA as essential to the business’s survival. Almost every alphabet group involved in G.A. was beating the drum to support its passage.

Passenger Rights

Millions of air passengers travel each year, and many are unaware that there are passenger rights laws to protect them against flight disruptions. These laws compensate fliers who experience delays, cancellations, or lost baggage. These laws vary from country to country, but the most comprehensive are in Europe. If you are concerned about your flight experiences, speak to a San Diego aviation attorney.

Passenger rights regulations are generally designed to balance consumer protection with sustainable airline services. These regulations should promote competition, innovation, consumer confidence, and improved air connectivity. Air passenger rights are governed by federal law in the United States and are regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). State courts can also hear civil and criminal cases related to air travel. However, these cases must comply with federal law.


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