Legislative Summary: Aviation


Aircraft Accident Claims 
H.R. 7934 — Public Law 87-212, approved September 8, 1961 
Authorizes immediate payment of not more than $1,000 to anyone who might suffer injury or personal damages as a result of an accident involving military aircraft or missiles. As a result of such accidents there may be urgent need to, for example, buy food and secure lodgings. Payments that might be made are not admission by the Government of liability; however, accidents involving missiles or aircraft are usually a clear case of liability.  

Crimes on Aircraft 
S. 2268 — Public Law 87-197, approved September 5, 1961 
This bill is designed to combat recent aircraft hijackings, by applying Federal criminal law to crimes committed on aircraft in air commerce. These incidents have focused attention on the need for additional laws covering such crimes. There are Federal laws as well as State laws which are now applicable in many instances; however, few specifically meet the unique problems including the venue problem, which arise while aircraft are in flight. This measure fills the gap by making criminal certain acts of violence which, if committed within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, would be crimes as defined by sections 113, 114, 111-13, 1363, or 2111 of title 18, United States Code, if committed on board an aircraft in flight in air commerce. Included are varying degrees of murder, manslaughter, attempt to commit murder or manslaughter, malicious destruction of property, and robbery.

Any person who obtains or attempts to obtain control of an aircraft by unlawful force or threat of force will be subject to a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both. If the act was committed with the use of a dangerous weapon, imprisonment may be for life but not less than 20 years, or by death if the jury so directs. One who assaults, intimidates, or threatens to interfere with a flight crew member in a way to interfere with his duties to safely operate the aircraft will be subject to a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than 20 years, or both. If a deadly or dangerous weapon is used, the penalty may be imprisonment for life but not less than 20 years.

An act which constitutes the crime of piracy if committed aboard a vessel on the high seas will constitute a crime if committed aboard an aircraft in flight in air commerce, punishable by imprisonment for life or for not less than 20 years, or by death if the jury so directs. This amendment to the Federal Aviation Act defines aircraft piracy to mean any seizure or exercise of control by force or violence or threat of force or violence, and with wrongful intent, of an aircraft in flight in air commerce.

To knowingly impart or convey false information concerning an attempt or alleged attempt to unlawfully obtain control of an aircraft, to interfere with a flight crew member, or to commit piracy will be subject to a fine up to $1,000 or imprisonment up to 1 year, or both.

With the exception of any municipal, county, or State government, or the Federal Government, and others who may be authorized under appropriate regulations issued by the Federal Aviation Agency, any person who, while aboard an aircraft operated by an air carrier in air transportation, carries on or about his person a concealed deadly or dangerous weapon or attempts to board an aircraft with such a weapon will be subject to a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment up to 5 years, or both.

All violations mentioned above will be subject to investigation by the FBI.

Venue. - The trial of any offense under this act will be in the district in which the offense is committed; or, if the offense is committed out of the jurisdiction of any particular Sate or district, the trial will be in the district where the offender, or any one of two or more joint offenders, is arrested or first brought. If the offender or offenders are not arrested or brought into any district, an indictment or information may be filed in the district of the last known residence of the offender or of any one of two or more joint offenders, or if no residence is known the indictment or information may be filed in the District of Columbia. Whenever the offense is begun in one jurisdiction and completed in another, or committed in more than one jurisdiction, it may be dealt with, inquired of, tried, determined, and punished in any jurisdiction in which the offense was begun, continued, or completed, in the same manner as if the offense had been actually and wholly committed therein.

The Administrator of FAA can authorize any air carrier to refuse transportation to a passenger or to transport property when, in the opinion of the carrier, it might prove inimical to safety in flight. 

Federal Airport Act Extension 
H.R. 8102 — Public Law 87-255, approved September 20, 1961 
Extends the Federal Airport Act for 3 years, to June 30, 1964, and authorizes a total of $225 million, with $75 million to become available for obligation each year.

Earmarks $7 million a year for the development of airports, to provide separate facilities for general aviation and thus relieve congestion at airports. Federal participation in constructing terminal buildings is restricted to costs directly related to the safety of persons at the airport.

Prohibits the approval of any project which does not include provision for installing certain specified landing aids such as high-intensity runway lighting as determined by the Administrator to be required for safe and efficient handling of traffic at the particular airport. Increased the Federal share of the installation of such aids from 50 percent to a maximum of 75 percent.

Provides that funds allocated to a State under the apportionment formula which are not obligated within 2 fiscal years shall become available for use in any State, at the discretion of the Administrator.

Requires publication by January 1 each year of the proposed program for airport development during the next fiscal year.

Amends the Federal Aviation Act to authorize various departments of the Federal Government to pay for space in public airports necessary in the performance of their duties.

War Risk Insurance Extension 
S. 1931 — Public Law 87-89, approved July 20, 1961 
Extends for 5 years until 1966 title XIII of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, which provides that in the event of war the Nation's civil air fleet would have adequate insurance coverage for war risks. Commercial aviation war risk policies are issued with automatic termination clauses in the event of outbreak of a major war.

Wright Brothers Day 
House Joint Resolution 109 — Public Law 87-291, approved September 22, 1961 
Gives the President the authority to designate December 17 of each year as Wright Brothers Day in commemoration of the first successful airplane flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright on December 17, 1903.


Aircraft Accidents 
S. 962 — Public Law 87-810, approved October 15, 1962 
Amends the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 to clarify the Civil Aeronautics Board's authority to conduct investigations of aircraft accidents. More specifically, it would provide the Board with express statutory authority to:

Examine and test to the extent necessary all component parts of the aircraft and property aboard the aircraft;

Examine and conduct autopsies or such other tests as may be necessary in the case of any fatal accident;

Request assistance of any medical agency of the United States in conducting medical examinations and tests necessary to investigation of the accident; requires the Board to observe, to the extent consistent with the needs of the accident investigation, provisions of local law protecting religious beliefs with respect to autopsies;

Request assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any investigatory agency of the United States with respect to an investigation of the activities of any person in connection with the accident;

Provide criminal penalties for removing, concealing, or withholding any part of a civil aircraft involved in an accident, or any property aboard the aircraft; and

Authorize the Board, on behalf of the United States, where appropriate, to accept gifts of money, other personal property and services in connection with the investigation of any accident.

Aircraft Loan Guarantees 
H.R. 10129 —  Public Law 87-820, approved October 15, 1962 
This bill: 
Extends the aircraft guarantee loan program an additional 5 years, to September 7, 1967.

Increases the amount of loans which could be authorized to any eligible carrier from $5 to $10 million.

This bill transfers responsibility for administering the loan guarantee program from the Civil Aeronautics Board to the Department of Commerce. 

Supplemental Air Carriers 
S. 1969 — Public Law 87-528, approved July 10, 1962 
This act terminates in 2 years the authority of supplemental airlines to fly ticket-holding passengers on scheduled flights. However, CAB is authorized to permit supplementals to fly individual-ticket flights during holidays and other peak-traffic periods. During the 2 year period, the supplemental airlines will be expected to switch gradually to charter service only. At present the CAB limits a supplemental to 10 monthly individual-ticket flights between any two cities. During the 2 year transitional period the act limits a carrier's individual-ticket business to its average individual-ticket revenue over the past 3 years.

Supplemental airlines are small carriers whose main business is charter flights, primarily for the armed services.

Authorizes the CAB to permit limited passenger charter operations by all-cargo airlines. Bars supplemental airlines from carrying mail, except during specially authorized temporary periods, and prohibits Government mail subsidy payments to them.

Requires each supplemental to be financially sound enough to provide safe service and to carry liability insurance.

Under this act the following new regulations will be established:

The CAB will require supplemental airlines to carry liability insurance and could also require them to furnish performance bonds. An airline would obtain the bonds from a bonding concern, which, in turn, would guarantee fulfillment of the airline's contracts.

The CAB could suspend or revoke a supplemental's operating certificate if it is not in active use. The CAB also could suspend or revoke a certificate for lack of financial fitness, judged on such standards as whether the airline has sufficient resources to sustain its contemplated operations for an initial 6 month period and whether the airline management has been associated with known violators of airline regulations.

The CAB could prevent an airline from conducting even interim operations while waiting for a permanent certificate. Formerly, the interim operations could be conducted under court order while waiting final determination of a CAB ruling on a request for a permanent certificate.

Supplementals could be fined as much as $1,000 a day for each continuing violation of these so-called economic regulations or of Federal Aviation Agency safety regulations.  


Federal Airport Act Extension 
S. 1153 — Passed Senate August 26; House Calendar 
Extends the Federal aid to airport program for 3 years, from June 30, 1964, to June 30, 1967, which authorizes Federal matching funds of $75 million a year for airport development.

Briefly, the present program limits Federal participation in the program to items directly related to safety and provides a special fund of $7 million a year for the development of general aviation airports. Funds allocated to any State under the area-population formula and not obligated within 2 fiscal years revert to the discretionary fund. To be eligible for funds, airport authorities are required to make provision for installing certain specified landing aids such as in-runway lighting, runway distance markers, and high intensity runway lighting determined by Federal Aviation Agency as necessary for safe and efficient use of the airport. Federal share of the cost for installing such aids may be increased to 75 percent; a special fund of $1,500,000 for Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands is provided because of their insular status and unique reliance on air transportation. Under this fund Hawaii receives $600,000, Puerto Rico $600,000, and the Virgin Islands $300,000. With the exception of the special set-aside allocation, 75 percent of the remaining authorization is allocated to the States on the basis of area and population and 25 percent is placed in a special discretionary fund to be used in any State at the discretion of the Administrator.

This bill adds a new provision requiring as a condition precedent to any grant that the Administrator must satisfy himself that reasonable effort, including enactment of zoning laws, has been made to restrict use of land adjacent to airports to make it compatible with the operation of the airport.

International Air Transportation Rates 
S. 1540 — Passed Senate November 26; pending in House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee 
Gives the Civil Aeronautics Board discretionary authority to prescribe rates and practices and to suspend tariffs in international air transportation to and from the United States under the same standards now applicable in interstate transportation.

It imposes a duty on air carriers engaged in foreign air transportation to establish reasonable rates and practices.

Essentially the bill gives to CAB the same degree of control over rates and practices of foreign air carriers operating into U.S. territory as foreign countries now have.