The Failure of Federal Aviation Administration Regulation

By Cleveland, Paul A.; Price, Jared R. | Independent Review, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

The Failure of Federal Aviation Administration Regulation


Cleveland, Paul A., Price, Jared R., Independent Review


The attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., in 2001 raised many questions about security in the United States. At that time, the nation's defenses were compromised by Islamic terrorists who commandeered commercial aircraft and used them as weapons. In view of the hundreds of billions of dollars the federal government spends on defense each year, how were these attacks possible for hijackers armed only with box cutters (sec Higgs 2002)? One possible reason can be found in the bureaucracy of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). According to its rules, commercial airline pilots were prohibited from arming themselves on their planes. As a result, the pilots of the hijacked planes could not mount an adequate defense against even the very lightly armed terrorists. Although we cannot be certain that the airlines left to their own devices would have adopted security arrangements sufficient to have thwarted the terrorists, it is at least possible that they would have done so.

Beyond the possibility that the FAA's ban of weapons on planes compromised the nation's security in the September 11 hijacking episodes, the agency's bureaucratic control has been the unseen source of flight delays and airline inefficiencies. The U.S. airline industry has been under some kind of regulatory control almost from the beginning of air travel. In 1958, the Federal Aviation Agency, which later became the Federal Aviation Administration, was created with the passage of the Federal Aviation Act. In essence, Congress created the FAA as an independent federal agency spun off the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB). The new agency was established to operate a nationalized air-traffic control (ATC) system and to adopt and oversee standardized safety requirements for air travel (Burkhardt 1967). The FAA's key functions under Title 49 in the United States Code remain the same today. Its purpose is to regulate the industry in order to promote safety and security and to develop and maintain a safe, secure, and efficient air-traffic management system. Indeed, the FAA itself claims to be an institution of nearly fifty thousand people dedicated to providing "a safe, secure, and efficient global aerospace system that contributes to national security and the promotion of U.S. aerospace safety" (FAA 2001a). However, if meeting these objectives is the FAA's mission, then it has failed in nearly every respect.

Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, and Israel Kirzner greatly expanded our understanding of the core problem of central planning. Specifically, they pointed out that central planning would always tend to fail because it could not overcome the basic knowledge problem. Whereas private planners can utilize market prices as a means of making and correcting their plans and ensuring the rationality of those plans, government planners are trapped in the plans they make because their own actions undercut the market and distort prices. Central planners typically are unaware of their own ignorance of the facts relevant to their social plans. Furthermore, because central planners, like all other planners, cannot know everything about the situation they are attempting to deal with, their working knowledge must take the form of what they think they know about the dispersed bits of knowledge that can be obtained. They use these bits to implement their social plans, unaware of other, equally relevant bits of knowledge. Because no one is omniscient, it is impossible for central planners to know where to find or even how to look for all the dispersed bits of information needed to achieve their goals. Moreover, because the central-planning approach essentially abandons free-market planning, the market prices that private planners use to such good effect are not available to, or are severely distorted by, central planners. The tragedy of central planning with regard to industrial policy is that even the best-intentioned central planner remains unaware of this problem because he does not appreciate his ignorance of his own ignorance (Kirzner 1992). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Failure of Federal Aviation Administration Regulation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.