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.'
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.