The Role Played by the Act in the Aviation Industry

127 views 5 pages ~ 1254 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

The Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938 is perhaps one of the most important laws in the American Aviation industry. This is because the law can be argued to have provided a central regulatory framework to govern the industry thus transforming it to the commercial status it enjoys today. In addition to the high returns in the industry, the Act has been credited with providing frameworks that have contributed to air safety both in the national and the international levels. This paper provides a brief discussion of the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938. The paper analyzes the Act in three main contexts which are the origin of the Act, the role the Act played in the aviation industry, and the specific outcomes that were achieved after the act was put in force. A number of aviation reports from the US government are used in order to give a credible account.

The Civil Aeronautics Act 1938


During the early era of air transport, industry players welcomed the regulation on the federal level as this move was seen as an opportunity to improve air transport safety which would, among other factors, lead to the commercial development of the industry (AAAE, n.d.). In that regard, the first regulation in this industry which is the Air Mail Act of 1925 was passed allowing the creation of scheduled airlines. This was followed by the Air Commerce Act of 1926 that provided guidelines for air navigation and the certification of aircraft and pilots (FAA, 2017).

Under these laws, however, air traffic control centers were run by private entities. The critical role that the sector was starting to play necessitated a new approach to air transport. A Bureau of Air Commerce would thus be established which gave the government control of air traffic control centers. In a bid to extend the reach of federal regulation in this critical industry President Roosevelt signed the Civil Aeronautics Act on 23rd June 1938. This Act gave the Air Safety Board which had three members and the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) the responsibility of enforcing the federal regulation in the aviation industry (APP, 1938). From this discussion, it is evident that the developments leading to the Civil Aeronautics Act 1938 were mainly focused on turning the aviation industry from privately owned separate air carriers to a general national air carrier that had a central regulatory framework for guidance. The creation of the Act was necessary owing to the fact that the aviation industry was becoming more and more important by the day hence a central system of governance was required to avoid any potential negative outcomes.

The Role Played By the Act

As pointed out in USSL (1938) the specific roles played by the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA), which was created by the act included encouraging, developing, and regulating air transportation, improvement of foreign and domestic trade, national defense, and mail service. In addition, the body was mandated with the approval of new airline routes and the setting of air transport rates along the routes that existed at that time. A short while after inception, under the guidance of the Act, the CAA conducted air traffic surveys with the aim of determining the number of passengers served at any given time and whether or not new routes were necessary. The act gave the CAA the power to go beyond the public sphere of the aviation industry by enabling it to determine the best prices for private carriers and the handling of customer complaints. In addition to regulating the industry at the national level, the CAA through the act was tasked with overseeing the trans-Atlantic aviation industry thus laying the foundation for modern international air travel. Apart from oversight, the CAA played a central role in the international discussion for regulations in the global aviation industry (CAA, 1940).

Effects of the Act on Aviation

One of the major accomplishments of the Act through the CAA was the significant improvement in aviation safety from 1938 onwards. Towards the end of 1938, the CAA launched an investigation on over 2600 accidents and used the findings to make recommendations on how air transportation could be made safer (CAA, 1939). To support the recommendations presented, the CAA kicked off the implementation of safety initiatives including health education in the context of aviation, aircraft inspection, and the certification of airmen (CAA, 1940).  These measures were able to achieve positive outcomes within a span of just 1 year. As pointed out in CAA (1940), there was not even a single accident resulting in fatality recorded in the 1940 fiscal year. This is an indication that the Civil Aviation Act 1938, through the CAA was already achieving measurable results that were not possible under the preceding regulatory frameworks.

Besides ushering in the aviation industry to the era of safety, the Act, through the CAA led the establishment of aviation as one of the most important professional areas in the US. This is because, the body started a program for training civilian pilots in conjunction with 528 flight schools and 435 colleges which led to the certification over 8000 civilian pilots (CAA, 1940). In that regard, the act led to the conversion of aviation from a purely military undertaking to a professional field just like any other that anyone can take pursue in college.

Finally, as has been pointed out in the earlier sections, the Act brought about more uniformity in the aviation industry through the regulation of pricing. Hester (1938), presents this argument in more general terms by pointing out that the law prevented the use of unfair business practices in the sector not only in the context of prices but also in the competition context. The law, for example, prohibited the creation of corporate relationships that presented the risk of being detrimental to public interest.


The discussion shows that the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938 came after a number of laws regulating different aspects of aviation had been passed. The reason why the Act was necessary is that the entire industry needed to be controlled by the federal government. The Act was thus put in place to give the federal government this power. After being passed, the Act established the CAA which engaged in activities such as the establishment of new routes and the standardization of air transport prices. Positive outcomes of the Act include the implementation of safety standards that made air transport safer, the standardization of prices, and the establishment of training programs for civilian pilots. All these outcomes are as important now as they were then. In that regard, it would be correct to conclude that the Civil Aeronautics Act 1938 laid the foundation for the modern aviation industry that is being enjoyed today.


AAAE. (n.d. ). History, the Regulation of Air Transportation, Airports, and the Federal Aviation Administration. Retrieved October 08, 2018, from American Association of Airport Executives:

APP. (19338, July 04). Transferring Funds From the Department of Commerce to the Civil Aeronautics Authority. Retrieved October 08, 2018, from The American Presidency Project:

CAA. (1939). First Annual Report of the Civil Aeronautics Authority: Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1939, With Additional Activities to November 1939. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.

CAA. (1940). Second Annual Report of the Civil Aeronautics Authority: Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1940. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.

FAA. (2017, January 04). A Brief History of the FAA. Retrieved October 08, 2018, from Federal Aviation Administration:

Hester, C. M. (1938). The Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938. Journal of Air Law and Commerce, Vol. 9(3), pp. 451-459.

USSL. (1938). Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938.

Washington: United States Government Printing Office.

December 12, 2023

Business Government


Corporations Military

Subject area:


Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Aviation
Verified writer

Participating in gun control for my college class, I worked with Lennon70 who took just a quick look at the replies and helped me participate in the most efficient way. A great writer who is a lot of fun!

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro

Similar Categories