Federal Aviation Administration 1 Airport Rd Savoy IL 61874 217-355-4060 ‎ 

The Federal Aviation Administration was created to oversee and control any type of air travel in or across the county. It is an agency within the Department of Transportation. Its stated mission is “to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world”; its vision for the future is to “strive to reach the next level of safety, efficiency, environmental responsibility and global leadership” while also remaining “accountable to the American public and our stakeholders.” (www.faa.gov/about/mission). The local office is in Savoy at the Williard Airport.


1926 – Air Commerce Act passed.  According to this law the Secretary of Commerce was to support air commerce, create air traffic laws, license pilots, certify aircraft, create airways, and aid air navigation. The newly created Aeronautics Branch in the Department of Commerce takes over these responsibilities.

1930s ­– Four major airlines are established: United, American, Easter, and Transcontinental and Western Air (TWA)

1934 – The Aeronautics Branch is named the Bureau of Air Commerce. Subsequently, it encourages airlines to set up the first air traffic control centers in Newark, New Jersey, Cleveland, Ohio, and Chicago, Illinois.

1936 – The bureau takes control of the oversight of the three centers listed above and improving safety becomes a high priority.

1938 – The Civil Aeronautics Act is passed by President Franklin Roosevelt.  This law establishes the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) and an Air Safety Board that will look into accident prevention.

1945 – Construction finished and Willard Airport is dedicated, with flights to begin in 1954.

1966–1967 ­ Congress approves the creation of the Department of Transportation to develop and maintain comprehensive transportation policies. In 1967 the department began to function and the Federal Aviation Agency is given the new name of Federal Aviation Administration.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s ­ The FAA tries to modernize its technology and keep up with new developments. A few examples from this transition period include updates to the National Airspace System (NAS), development of an Automated Radar Control System (ARTS), and establishment of the Central Flow Control Facility. Each of these changes was meant to update air traffic control and safety, as well as prepare the FAA for future innovations.

1982 – FAA releases its first strategic plan for modernization. The National Airspace System (NAS) Plan is a 20-year outline for continuing to improve the air traffic control and air navigation systems.  Some goals are to enhance the Air Traffic Control (ATC) system with a new Free Flight program and to develop the Global Positioning System (GPS) technology for commercial flight.

1991 – The NAS Plan is replaced with the Capital Investment Plan. This new plan combines projects and plans from the original NAS Plan while adding “higher levels of automation as well as new radar, communications, and weather forecasting systems.”

1996 – FAA creates an acquisition management system, a new personnel system to streamline recruitment, and a reward and discipline program.

1998–2000 – The FAA begins testing a new personnel system called the core compensation.  By the year 2000 the FAA transfers over 6,000 employees to the new system.

2001 – On September 11, 2001 four U.S. airliners are hijacked; the day ends with the destruction of the World Trade Center towers in New York, damage to the Pentagon in Virginia, one plane crashing in a Pennsylvania field, and thousands of people dead or wounded.  It is a shock to the American people as well as the FAA and an event that changes air travel in the United States forever.

November, 2001 – Aviation and Transportation Security Act is signed by President George W. Bush, which creates the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) within the Department of Transportation.  This new agency will take over the security responsibilities from the FAA in 2002.

2003 – The Vision 100 – Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act (100 years after the first flight by the Wright brothers) supports the idea of a Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).  The NextGen plan will take a multiyear, multiagency effort with the goal of establishing an “air transportation system for the year 2025 and beyond.” In December, 2004 the Department of Transportation Secretary releases the Integrated Plan for the Next Generation Airport System, which officially introduces the plan, outline, and objectives for creating NextGen.

The work of the FAA has established air travel as a normal part of life for the American people. Their work has connected people throughout the nation and the world. In fact, the FAA points out, it “has created the safest, most reliable, most efficient, and most productive air transportation system in the world.” Much of what will happen in the future depends upon the technological innovations that are sure to change the aviation industry. The FAA is looking to its NextGen plan to ensure viability and continue to provide safe, secure, and efficient service and air travel.

This CU wiki entry began as a UIUC research project.  For more on that see Study of UC2B Anchor Institutions' Technology Use