Explain the evolution of Federal aviation safety laws and describe their effectiveness in improving the safety of flight in air carrier operations.
During the 1920s, the establishment of the U.S. Air Mail Service caused a large growth in commercial aviation. Although early regulatory requirements were minimal at best, they contributed to the improvement in aviation safety. For instance, the Post Office integrated aircraft inspections and preventative maintenance programs into their standard operations. The post Office Department also made it a requirement for their pilots to pass proficiency exams, as well as have a minimum of 500 flight hours as a prerequisite of employment.
In the mid 1920s, Congress passed legislation titled the "Air Mail Act of 1925", allowing the Post Office Department to delegate air mail service to private carriers, some of whom are today's modern airlines. Because it was much more profitable to transport packages, these early carriers had only limited passenger service, so the need for detailed air safety regulations for passengers was nominal. Over the next two decades, with the increase in demand for passenger services, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) was created in 1940 and charged with the responsibilities regarding regulatory and investigatory affairs.
Since the creation of the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) in 1958, (now known as the Federal Aviation Administration), many safety regulations have been imposed and enforced regarding the manufacturing, operation and maintenance of aircraft. These regulations ranged from standards for aircraft inspections, pilot training and testing, limiting pilot flight hours, air traffic control (ATC) operations, and even rules governing the supply of aircraft oil and aircraft fuel reserves. In addition to absorbing the CABs responsibilities, today's FAA is responsible for enforcing and improving upon existing regulations.