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FAA – Federal Aviation Administration

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  • 800 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20591
  • 1-866-835-5322
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FAA - Federal Aviation AdministrationFAA – Federal Aviation Administration

Our continuing mission is to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.

Our Mission

Our continuing mission is to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.

Our Vision

We strive to reach the next level of safety, efficiency, environmental responsibility and global leadership. We are accountable to the American public and our stakeholders.

Our Values

  • Safety is our passion. We work so all air and space travelers arrive safely at their destinations.
  • Excellence is our promise. We seek results that embody professionalism, transparency and accountability.
  • Integrity is our touchstone. We perform our duties honestly, with moral soundness, and with the highest level of ethics.
  • People are our strength. Our success depends on the respect, diversity, collaboration, and commitment of our workforce.
  • Innovation is our signature. We foster creativity and vision to provide solutions beyond today’s boundaries.

A Brief History of the FAA

The modern age of powered flight began in 1903, when Orville Wright made the first sustained, powered flight on December 17 in a plane he and his brother Wilbur built. This twelve-second flight led to the development of the first practical airplane in 1905, and launched worldwide efforts to build better flying machines. As a result, the early twentieth century witnessed myriad aviation developments as new planes and technologies entered service. During World War I, the airplane also proved its effectiveness as a military tool and, with the advent of early airmail service, showed great promise for commercial applications.

Despite limited post-World War I technical developments, early aviation remained a dangerous business. Flying conditions proved difficult since the only navigation devices available to most pilots were magnetic compasses. Pilots flew 200 to 500 feet above ground so they could navigate by roads and railways. Low visibility and night landings were made using bonfires on the field as lighting. Fatal accidents were routine.

The Air Mail Act of 1925 facilitated the creation of a profitable commercial airline industry, and airline companies such as Pan American Airways, Western Air Express, and Ford Air Transport Service began scheduled commercial passenger service. By the mid-1930s, the four major domestic airlines that dominated commercial travel for most of the twentieth century began operations: United, American, Eastern, and Transcontinental and Western Air (TWA).

As air travel increased, some airport operators, hoping to improve safety, began providing an early form of air traffic control (ATC) based on visual signals. Early controllers stood on the field and waved flags to communicate with pilots. Archie League, the system’s first flagmen, began work in the late 1920s at the airfield in St. Louis, Missouri.

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