The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) was an agency of the
federal government of the United States The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the national government of the United States, a federal republic located primarily in North America, composed of 50 states, a city within a fed ...
, formed in 1938 and abolished in 1985, that regulated aviation services including scheduled
passenger airline An airline is a company that provides air transport services for traveling passengers and freight. Airlines use aircraft to supply these services and may form partnerships or alliances with other airlines for codeshare agreements, in whic ...
serviceStringer, David H.
"Non-Skeds: The Story of America’s Supplemental Airlines, Part 1: Industry in the United States,"
'' AAHS Journal'', vol. 64, no.4 (Winter 2019) journal of the American Aviation Historical Society, excerpt online, retrieved April 8, 2020
and provided air accident investigation. The agency headquarters were in
Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, United States Capitol, Logan Circle, Jefferson Memorial, White House, Adams Morgan, ...


The primary role of the CAB was to regulate scheduled commercial
airline An airline is a company that provides air transport services for traveling passengers and freight. Airlines use aircraft to supply these services and may form partnerships or alliances with other airlines for codeshare agreements, in which ...
operations in the United States. The CAB strictly controlled all U.S. certificated airlines ("scheduled carriers") -- deciding which routes would be serviced by which airlines, and setting minimum limits on passenger fares (comparable to the Interstate Commerce Commission) -- effectively managing competition between airlines, and ensuring certain levels of service to communities throughout the United States.Brown, John Howard (assoc. prof., Dept of Finance & Economics, Georgia Southern University) (with credit to Alfred Kahn, last CAB Chairman
"Jimmy Carter, Alfred Kahn, and Airline Deregulation: Anatomy of a Policy Success,"
Summer 2014, '' The Independent Review,'' vol. 19, no. 1, , pp. 85–99
While the CAB regulation suppressed free competition, it provided security for the existing airlines, avoided gluts and shortages of passengers on certain routes, and (partly by allowing airlines to carry air mail) secured airline service for communities that would have otherwise been served less, or not have been served at all (due to low passenger traffic or other reasons). To achieve its goals, the CAB was empowered to provide and administer subsidies to airlines. Further, the CAB regulated airline industry mergers and intercompany contracting -- but shielded the airlines from
antitrust Competition law is the field of law that promotes or seeks to maintain market competition by regulating anti-competitive conduct by companies. Competition law is implemented through public and private enforcement. It is also known as antitrust l ...
regulation. Additionally, within the airline industry, the CAB was assigned to prevent deceptive trade practices and unfair competition methods (similar to the role of the
Federal Trade Commission The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC shares jurisdiction ov ...


The Civil Aeronautics Authority Act of 1938 formed the Civil Aeronautics Authority. The agency was renamed in 1940,''The United States Government Manual 2009-2010''. Government Printing Office, October 30, 2009. . p
due to a merger with the Air Safety Board. It became an independent agency under Reorganization Plans Nos. III and IV of 1940, effective on June 30, 1940. The Air Safety Board had formed in 1938. Other predecessor agencies included the Aeronautics Branch (1926–1934), the Bureau of Air Commerce (1934–1938), and the Bureau of Air Mail, Interstate Commerce Commission (1934–38). The first air accident investigation led by the CAB was the 1940 Lovettsville air disaster. Some duties were transferred to the
Federal Aviation Agency The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the largest transportation agency of the U.S. government and regulates all aspects of civil aviation in the country as well as over surrounding international waters. Its powers include air traffic m ...
in 1958. The
National Transportation Safety Board The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent U.S. government investigative agency responsible for civil transportation accident investigation. In this role, the NTSB investigates and reports on aviation accidents and inc ...
(NTSB) was established in 1967, taking over air accident investigation duties. In the late 1970s, during the administration of President
Jimmy Carter James Earl Carter Jr. (born October 1, 1924) is an American politician who served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as the 76th governor of Georgia from ...
, and under the guidance of his economic advisor Alfred Kahn (who had specialized in research on deregulation, and was appointed CAB Chairman), the CAB became the target of the early
deregulation Deregulation is the process of removing or reducing state regulations, typically in the economic sphere. It is the repeal of governmental regulation of the economy. It became common in advanced industrial economies in the 1970s and 1980s, as a ...
movement, and its dissolution was one of the most conspicuous pioneering events of the movement.Lang, Susan S
"Economist Alfred Kahn, 'father of airline deregulation' and former presidential adviser, dies at 93,"
December 27, 2010, '' Cornell Chronicle,'' retrieved April 9, 2020
Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 The Airline Deregulation Act is a 1978 United States federal law that deregulated the airline industry in the United States, removing federal control over such areas as fares, routes, and market entry of new airlines. The Civil Aeronautics Bo ...
specified that the CAB would eventually be disestablished — the first federal regulatory regime, since the 1930s, to be totally dismantled — and this happened on January 1, 1985. The remaining tasks were transferred to the Secretary of Transportation except for a few going to the
U.S. Postal Service The United States Postal Service (USPS), also known as the Post Office, U.S. Mail, or Postal Service, is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for providing postal service in the U. ...


The agency had its headquarters in the Universal Building in Dupont Circle,
Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, United States Capitol, Logan Circle, Jefferson Memorial, White House, Adams Morgan, ...
The agency had moved there by May 1959."Briefings..." ''
Flying Magazine ''Flying'', sometimes styled ''FLYING'', is an aviation magazine published since 1927 and called ''Popular Aviation'' prior to 1942, as well as ''Aeronautics'' for a brief period. It is read by pilots, aircraft owners, aviation enthusiasts and a ...
''. May 1959. Vol. 64, No. 5. . p
"UNDER ONE ROOF at last, the Civil Aeronautics Board is now quartered in the Universal Building, 1825 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Washington"
Previously it had been headquartered in the Commerce Building (a.k.a. the Herbert C. Hoover Building), and its offices were in several buildings. After moving into the Universal Building, CAB leased space there. By 1968 the agency had acquired an additional approximately of space in the same building, resulting in additional rent expenses.''Civil aeronautics board'' (Volume 38 of Independent Offices and Department of Housing and Urban Development Appropriations for 1969: Hearings, Ninetieth Congress, Second Session, United States. Congress. House. Committee on Appropriations. Subcommittee on Independent Offices and Dept. of Housing and Urban Development).
U.S. Government Printing Office The United States Government Publishing Office (USGPO or GPO; formerly the United States Government Printing Office) is an agency of the legislative branch of the United States Federal government. The office produces and distributes information ...
, 1968. p

See search page
"Mr. Evins. Other objects are shown on page 94. Rent is shown to increase by $28,000. You go from $194,400 to $223,200. Why do you need this increase? Mr. Murphy. We are acquiring about 2,000 more square feet of office space in the Universal Building, where we are presently housed. I think that accounts, perhaps, for the increase in our rent. Is that correct, Mr. Kiefer?"

See also

United States government role in civil aviation The Air Commerce Act of 1926 created an Aeronautic Branch of the United States Department of Commerce. Its functions included testing and licensing of pilots, certification of aircraft and investigation of accidents. In 1934, the Aeronautics Bran ...


Further reading

* Kahn, Alfred E. (last CAB Chairman), Alfred E. Kahn
Airline Deregulation
in ''The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics'' by libertarian website "Library of Economics & Liberty" of the Liberty Fund

External links

Records of the Civil Aeronautics Board
United States National Archives The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is an " independent federal agency of the United States government within the executive branch", charged with the preservation and documentation of government and historical records. It ...
* ''Oversight of Civil Aeronautics Board practices and procedures : hearings before the Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Ninety-fourth Congress'', 1975 **Volume 1: Testimonies. ; **Volume 2: Testimonies. ; **Volume 3: Testimonies. ; **Appendix Volume 1: Part 1: Questionnaires. ; **Appendix Volume 2: Part 2: Questionnaires, Responses. ; **Appendix Volume 3: Part 2: Responses. ; **Appendix Volume 4: Part 3: CAB Materials. **Appendix Volume 5: Part 4: CAB Materials.
National Transportation Library
- Includes air accident reports and other materials from the CAB, Air Safety Board, and Bureau of Air Commerce, dating to 1934 *
Investigations of Aircraft Accidents 1934-1965
{{Authority control Government agencies established in 1938 1938 establishments in the United States 1985 disestablishments in the United States
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major unincorporated territo ...
Aviation organizations based in the United States Aviation authorities Organizations based in Washington, D.C. Defunct independent agencies of the United States government Transportation government agencies of the United States