The terms CAA, FAA, EASA, JAA and ICAO may all sound like jargon to an ordinary traveler, but in reality, they are all regulatory bodies. The fact is that Aviation has indeed come a long way since the inception of the industry and these bodies are mandated to ensure that air flight remains safe and secure for all air passengers. To put it in perspective, over four billion air passengers flew in commercial flights and private jets to various locale, last year.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
Formed in 1958, the FAA is the national aviation authority in the US and is primarily responsible for overseeing all aspects of the aviation industry in Northern America. It is also the agency that mandates all flights, compiles a strict set of guidelines to ensure that the flights remain safe and that the passengers can travel securely to their location. Beside the mandatory licensing for the commercial flights, the private charter service companies like MBSF Private Jets ensure that they allow the pilots and aircraft that are licensed and authorized by Federal Aviation Administration.
Ever since the world towers incident, the FAA has ramped up their guidelines and has even introduced random checks to ensure that air flight remains both safe and secure. The FAA has laid down some ground rules, known as federal aviation regulations (FARs). The FARs cover every single aspect of the aviation industry from hot air ballooning, to pilot behavior, pilot requirements, what to fly and importantly, when to fly.
This document is quite vast and is also sometimes called 14 CFR Part xx to avoid confusing it with Federal acquisitions regulations which uses the same acronym. All pilots and airline officials are required to familiarize themselves with the document.
European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
While each nation has its own aviation regulatory body, the European Aviation safety bureau is responsible and is also mandated to develop and regulate the aviation rules for all the nations that are currently part of the EU. EASA is currently headquartered in Cologne, Germany and is primarily responsible for air safety, developing and distributing guidelines concerning air travel, conducting analysis and research on safety, advising member nations, grant certification to aircraft and more.
EASA attained full functionality in 2008, and since then, it has been the supreme aviation regulatory body in EU, where it had inherited the duties of Joint aviation authorities (JAA). This was more than necessary given that air traffic over Europe can be quite heavy; in fact, the traffic management for EU handles nearly 26,000 flights per day.
Naturally, EU needed a common set of guidelines for aviation and an all-encompassing regulatory body in the form of EASA. EASA has currently proposed the single sky initiative wherein there is a smoother transition between European flights and international ones.
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
As hard as it may be to believe, the International civil aviation or ICAO can trace its roots back to the now-defunct organization International commission for air navigation (ICAN) and its inaugural meet in 1902. Since its inception, both the airline industry and the bodies governing the same have gone through several changes. Finally, various countries came together and signed the convention on International civil aviation in 1944.
Three years post that, the accord helped to form the ICAO, with the essential mandate of monitoring and regulating all commercial flights and ensuring that air passengers can enjoy their flight, in safety.
The main function of this UN-mandated body is to regulate all commercial flights, and to that end, it provides a set of standards which help to regulate aviation all over the world. These standards, issued by the ICAO often cover technical aspects of aviation, units of measurement, aeronautical charts, guidelines for rescue attempts and more.
By listing out the standards, the ICAO is providing the aviation industry with standardized guidelines; rather than have a different one adopted by each nation; it makes more sense to provide all the nations with a set of standardized aviation guidelines. It should be pointed out that each nation can change and modify the guidelines as issued by the ICAO, as per their requirement.
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
The Civil aviation authority or the CAA stands for the aviation administration in the UK, but the term itself is a tad generic and can be confusing as various nations, from the Czech Republic to Mongolia use the same. That being said, the CAA does not enjoy the same powers as FAA does in the US, but it is still a regulatory body for aviation in the UK. It acts as one of the main regulators in some aspects whereas, in others, it defers to EASA. The CAA, more often than not, acts as a local body on behalf of EASA but this may change, post-Brexit. At the moment, the CAA currently regulates over 50000 active pilots and 19000 aircraft in the UK.
Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA)
The Joint aviation authorities (JAA) was first known as the joint airworthiness, but today, it goes under a new title, with more responsibilities. The JAA was first started to develop common certification codes for large aircraft, but over time it has expanded to include within its responsibilities operations, maintenance, and design standards, as they apply to the industry.
It should be pointed out that JAA has shared some of its responsibilities with EASA, but is considered to be a regulatory body in itself. Some EU members are not allowed a say in the functioning of JAA, and this is bound to cause some friction.
These are the various regulatory bodies governing aviation industry world over; the industry has seen some rapid changes in the last few decades and more so in the last few years. With airline companies spearheading research for bigger planes, it was natural for these regulatory bodies to evolve as well.
As a result, some of these regulatory bodies even set up guidelines for airline officials, pilots and even members of the public. These regulatory bodies are not just essential but necessary as they go all out to make airlines both safe and secure. It is thanks to these bodies that air traffic is managed better, and flights are safer now.