The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) was an agency of the federal government of the United States, formed in 1938 and abolished in 1985, that regulated aviation services including scheduled passenger airline 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.


The primary role of the CAB was to regulate scheduled commercial airline 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 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 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 in 1958. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was established in 1967, taking over air accident investigation duties. In the late 1970s, during the administration of President Jimmy Carter, 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 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
The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 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 agency had its headquarters in the Universal Building in Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. The agency had moved there by May 1959."Briefings..." ''Flying Magazine''. 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, 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


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
Oversight of Civil Aeronautics Board practices and procedures

National Transportation Library
- Includes air accident reports and other materials from the CAB, Air Safety Board, and Bureau of Air Commerce, dating to 1934 {{Authority control Category:Government agencies established in 1938 Category:1938 establishments in the United States Category:1985 disestablishments in the United States Category:Organizations investigating aviation accidents and incidents Category:Aviation organizations based in the United States Category:Aviation authorities Category:Organizations based in Washington, D.C. Category:Defunct independent agencies of the United States government Category:Transportation government agencies of the United States