Air Rights and The FAA

What is the FAA and what is its mandate ?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the branch of the Department of Transportation that deals with aviation regulations.

  • Aviation Safety sets standards and certifies aircraft, airmen, and facilities.
  • Air Traffic Organization runs the National Airspace System and accounts for over 35,000 of FAA staff.
  • The Office of Airports sets airport standards, certifies air carrier airports and provides financial assistance to optimize safety, capacity and efficiency for more than 3,300 airports nationwide.
  • Commercial Space Transportation sets safety standards and also has responsibility for promoting this nascent industry.
  • Security and Hazardous Materials Safety is responsible for critical infrastructure protection, emergency operations, contingency planning, and the safe transportation of hazardous materials in air commerce.

Can the FAA nullify Air Rights ?

No the FAA cannot unilaterally nullify Air Rights as it is not in their purview as a branch of the Department of Transportation. While the FAA has sole authority to set aviation regulations and foster aviation commerce it does not have the authority to change property rights. For example if the FAA could nullify Air Rights it would not make available an avigation easement template on its own web site.

Where are minimum safe altitudes defined ?

FAA regulation 91.119 defines mimimim safe altitudes for existing air craft as 1000 feet over urban areas and 500 feet over rural areas. Court precedents involving takings cases of air rights historically have used these altitudes as the divider between public and private air space.

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