The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation is celebrating their 75th anniversary today for their air traffic control division.
The organization originally started with just 15 workers in three control centers way back in 1936, however the agency has since added thousands of workers and works with agencies around the world to help improve air traffic safety. The organization is considered a worldwide leader when it comes to speeding up flights, creating better fuel efficiency and improving overall flight safety.
According to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood:
“The United States has the safest air transportation system in the world. But as the last 75 years show, we will never stop working to make our system even safer.”
The federal program began on July 6, 1936 when the Bureau of Air Commerce took over airway traffic control in Newark, N.J., Chicago and Cleveland. During that time the only commercial plane air traffic controllers had to worry about was the Douglas DC-3 which flew coast-to-coast in approximately 17 hours while carrying just 21 passengers.
According to AMTOnline:
Since then, the air traffic system has expanded from three control centers to include 131 federal stand-alone airport traffic control towers, 132 towers for terminal area approach control, 29 stand-alone terminal radar approach controls and 21 en route traffic control centers. The number of controllers has grown from 15 to more than 15,000, a workforce that handles an average of 50,000 flights each day. The DC-3 has given way to jet aircraft that can carry hundreds of passengers and fly from New York to Los Angeles in about five hours.
While we may gripe about current air travel practices, it would likely be a much slower and less safe environment if the FAA didn’t help standardize the way thousands of planes take off, land and even fly our friendly skies in today’s congested skies.
Happy 75th Birthday FAA.