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Aviation

Aviation is generally the flying and operating of aircraft, whether for commercial purposes or private purposes.

In Texas, aviation is regulated by both federal and state laws. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the primary agency responsible for the regulation of civil aviation in the United States, including Texas. The FAA's regulations cover a wide range of activities including aircraft certification, pilot licensing, flight operations, and air traffic control. On the state level, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Aviation Division works in conjunction with the FAA to oversee aviation within the state. They are responsible for the development of community airports, providing funding for aviation projects, and ensuring that Texas aviation complies with both federal and state regulations. Texas also has laws and regulations that govern the operation of airports, aircraft registration, and aeronautics within the state. Both commercial and private aviation operations must adhere to these regulations to ensure safety and compliance.



Texas Statutes & Rules

Texas Transportation Code - Section 21.002. Definitions
This section provides definitions for terms used in the regulation of aviation in Texas, which is essential for understanding the scope of aviation laws.

In the Texas Transportation Code, 'aircraft' is defined as any contrivance used or designed for navigation of or flight in the air. The term 'airport' means any area of land or water that is used or intended for the landing and takeoff of aircraft, and includes any related buildings and facilities. Other relevant definitions related to aviation include 'air navigation facility,' 'airman,' 'navigable airspace,' and 'operation of aircraft.'

Texas Transportation Code - Section 21.041. General Powers and Duties
This section outlines the powers and duties of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) regarding aviation in the state.

The Texas Department of Transportation has the power to encourage, foster, and assist in the development of aeronautics in Texas. TxDOT is responsible for planning, making policies for, and maintaining a comprehensive airport system. It also has the authority to cooperate with and assist the federal government, other state agencies, and political subdivisions of the state in the development of aeronautics and to comply with the provisions of federal aeronautics laws.

Texas Transportation Code - Section 21.051. Registration of Aircraft
This section requires the registration of aircraft in Texas, which is a fundamental aspect of aviation regulation.

Every owner of an aircraft in Texas is required to register their aircraft with the Texas Department of Transportation. The registration must be renewed annually. The department may charge a registration fee, and the amount of the fee is based on the maximum designed takeoff weight of the aircraft. The funds collected from these fees are used to support the state's aviation facilities and services.

Texas Transportation Code - Section 21.055. Aircraft Dealer's License
This section pertains to the licensing of aircraft dealers in Texas, which is important for the regulation of commercial aviation activities.

An individual or business entity that sells, exchanges, or offers to sell aircraft must obtain an aircraft dealer's license from the Texas Department of Transportation. The department sets the qualifications for licensing, and the license must be renewed annually. Dealers are required to display their license at their place of business and on each aircraft offered for sale.

Texas Transportation Code - Section 21.101. Operation of Aircraft
This section governs the operation of aircraft in Texas, ensuring safety and compliance with regulations.

The operation of aircraft in Texas must be in accordance with the state's laws and the rules of the Texas Department of Transportation. The department may adopt rules relating to the operation of aircraft for the safety and protection of the public and property. These rules may include provisions for flight over congested areas, minimum altitudes, and safe distances from persons and property on the ground.

Texas Transportation Code - Section 21.151. Prohibited Acts
This section lists actions that are prohibited in relation to aviation, which is critical for maintaining legal order and safety in the airspace.

It is unlawful for any person to operate an aircraft in the airspace over Texas or upon the public waters of the state in a careless or reckless manner that endangers the life or property of another. In addition, no person may interfere with or tamper with an aircraft without the consent of the owner, or operate an aircraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Federal Statutes & Rules

Federal Aviation Act of 1958, 49 U.S.C. § 40101
This act is the cornerstone of federal aviation law in the United States, governing the use, regulation, and promotion of civil aviation.

The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 established the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and set out a broad national policy for aviation in the United States. It provides the legal framework for the FAA to promote safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing standards for pilots, aircraft, and every individual and organization engaged in aeronautics. It also authorizes the FAA to develop air traffic rules, certify aircraft and pilots, enforce aviation regulations, and manage air navigation facilities.

Air Commerce Act of 1926, 49 U.S.C. §§ 40101-46320
This act was one of the first to address the issue of air navigation and the certification of aircraft and pilots, which is foundational to modern aviation law.

The Air Commerce Act of 1926 authorized the Secretary of Commerce to designate air routes, develop air navigation systems, license pilots and aircraft, and investigate accidents. Although much of its regulatory function has been superseded by the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, the Air Commerce Act laid the groundwork for the regulation of civil aviation and the promotion of a national air transportation system.

Airport and Airway Development Act of 1970, 49 U.S.C. § 47101
This act provides for the development and expansion of the nation's airport and airway system to meet the needs of civil aeronautics and to provide for the safety and security of aircraft and airports.

The Airport and Airway Development Act of 1970 established the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, which is funded by user fees, fuel taxes, and other similar charges. The act authorizes the FAA to provide grants to public agencies for the planning and development of public-use airports that are included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). The act aims to ensure the safety and efficiency of airport and airway development and to address the environmental and social impacts of aviation.

Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, 49 U.S.C. § 40101 note
This act significantly changed the airline industry by removing federal control over many aspects of commercial aviation, including fares, routes, and market entry of new airlines.

The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 phased out the Civil Aeronautics Board's control over the airline industry, allowing market forces to determine routes, services, and prices. The act aimed to increase competition and reduce government control, leading to more affordable air travel and more choices for consumers. It also transferred some responsibilities to the Department of Transportation and established the Essential Air Service program to ensure that small communities continued to receive commercial service.

Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001, 49 U.S.C. § 114
This act was passed in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and created the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to oversee security in all modes of transportation, including aviation.

The Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 established the TSA and mandated that federal employees be in charge of airport security screening. The act requires the screening of passengers and baggage, fortification of cockpit doors, expansion of the Federal Air Marshal Service, and enhancement of security measures throughout the transportation network. The TSA is responsible for developing policies to protect the nation's transportation systems, including air travel, to ensure the freedom of movement for people and commerce.