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There seems to be many regulation bodies across the globe, how are they different and how are they alike? Specifically, how is ICAO different from the rest?

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ICAO is the International Civil Aviation Organization, a specialized agency of United Nations. It was created after the Convention on International Civil Aviation (the Chicago Convention) of 1944 was ratified in 1947. The purpose of ICAO is according to the convention:

"WHEREAS the future development of international civil aviation can greatly help to create and preserve friendship and understanding among the nations and peoples of the world, yet its abuse can become a threat to the general security; and

WHEREAS it is desirable to avoid friction and to promote that co-operation between nations and peoples upon which the peace of the world depends;

THEREFORE, the undersigned governments having agreed on certain principles and arrangements in order that international civil aviation may be developed in a safe and orderly manner and that international air transport services may be established on the basis of equality of opportunity and operated soundly and economically;

Have accordingly concluded this Convention to that end."

Within ICAO, the 191 Member States and a number of global aviation organizations work together to develop international Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs). These SARPs are the reference for states developing their national civil aviation regulations which are legally enforcible. This is an important aspect: ICAO SARPs are not legally binding by themselves, they form the basis of national regulations which have legal status.

In this way civil aviation regulations are harmonized all over the world, with slight differences based on the actual implementation in national regulations. These local differences are then reported back to ICAO and published.


CAA is the Civil Aviation Authority. This is a generic term used in many countries, notably the UK and China. A CAA is a national regulatory body responsible for aviation. The CAA implements the ICAO SARPs in national legislation and is responsible for regulatory oversight.


FAA is the Federal Aviation Administration. As the Civil Aviation Authority of the USA, it is responsible for establishing aviation regulations in the US. These are known as FARs (Federal Aviation Regulations).

In addition to its regulatory role, the FAA is also responsible for Airspace and Air Traffic Management, maintenance of Air Navigation Facilities infrastructure and has an active role in Research and Development of aviation related systems and technologies.


JAA were the Joint Aviation Authorities, a co-operation of most European (EU and non-EU) civil aviation regulatory authorities. It was not a regulatory body itself, the member authorities were responsible for the regulation.

Originally started as the Joint Airworthiness Authorities in 1970 its objectives were to produce common certification standards for large aircraft and aircraft engines to facilitate a European aviation manufacturing industry (Airbus). Over time, the scope was extended to included aircraft operations, maintenance, licensing and certification/design standards for all classes of aircraft.

With the creation of EASA (see below) in 2002, the EU members transferred the airworthiness regulations away from the JAA. Over time, EASA became responsible for operations and licensing as well. In 2009 the JAA system was disbanded. Only the training organisation (JAA-TO) remains, it mainly provides courses for CAA staff of European countries.


EASA is European Aviation Safety Agency. Created in 2002 by the European Commission, EASA took over the functions of the Joint Aviation Authorities of the EU countries.

The responsibilities of EASA include drafting of aviation safety legislation and providing technical advice to the European Commission and to the EU Member States, airworthiness and type certification of aircraft and aircraft parts for aircraft operating in the EU, approval of aircraft design organisations world-wide and of production and maintenance organisations inside and outside of the EU.

Since its creation, the competences of EASA have gradually expanded. This process is still going on.

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Let me give you a brief description of all the authorities you mentioned (as far as I know them). I hope this will help you and answers your question.

ICAO - The International Civil Aviation Organization is was founded to set up international standards in aviation. When international air travel became more and more present (1947) there was a need have international regulations. The ICAO counts 191 member states and all have to adopt their guidelines or advice the ICAO of regional differences, which will then published by the ICAO.

FAA The Federal Aviation Administration is the aviation authority of the United States of America. It is responsible for setting up the federal aviation regulations (FAR), which are binding for all flight operations in the US. The FAA also provides air traffic control service at most control towers and all en-route air traffic control centers.

EASA - The European Aviation Safety Agency, former Joint Aviation Authority (JAA), is best described by taking both names: It's the European aviation authority. I personally (on my license it still says JAA) don't see the advantages of EASA compared to JAA. I've heard that they are aiming for a 'Single European Sky', which I would really appreciate, but it also costs a lot of money and means a bunch of new paperwork. Let's return to your question as an authority you can compare EASA to the FAA, but you need to remember that it is still an international and organization, so even if they are small, there are regional differences.

CAA - Honestly I don't even know what the abbreviation stands for, but as far as I know it's the Chinese aviation authority and a governmental organization of the republic of China. It's also Civil Aviation Authority for UK.

As you see, all of them are there to establish rules for aviation in order to make it as safe and efficient as possible. The ICAO is international and responsible for very basic - they are still complex - general rules. The other authority are making there regulations according to, or at least, based on the ICAO standards.

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  • $\begingroup$ I've never flewn there yet and it was also no mentioned in x-thousend of EASA ATPL questions, but it will be mentioned in ICAOs doc 4444. Now we need to see if he have to look in the Asian or North American ;) Please feel free to edit this answer if you find obvious mistakes. $\endgroup$ – Falk Jan 21 '14 at 23:59
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    $\begingroup$ CAA = Civil Aviation Authority ? ie. regulatory body in a country $\endgroup$ – Radu094 Jan 22 '14 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ Obviously its a very popular abbreviation and we all are some kind of right. Regarding my part (China): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$ – Falk Jan 22 '14 at 0:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Radu094 Insofar as the U.S. is concerned, when I was a boy in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the CAA was the Civil Aeronautics Administration. It was renamed to the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) in 1958, which then became the Federal Aviation Administration in 1967. $\endgroup$ – Terry Oct 18 '14 at 17:22
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ICAO was explained.

CAA is rather common name for aviation authorities in the country. Like police for law enforcement. But different countries call the same differently. Like in Russia they have name milicija for police Here is a complete list of CAAs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_civil_aviation_authorities

FAA is mega scale CAA for americans. EASA is mega scale CAA for European union.

Small countries usually follow FAA or EASA or other big authority.

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  ■ ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, codifies the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth. Therefore, ICAO was created in 1944 (as a result of the agreements of the Chicago Convention- The convention of Chicago is a Convention on International Civil Aviation, signed in Chicago on 07/12/1944 ) to promote the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation throughout the world. It sets standards and regulations necessary for aviation safety, security, efficiency and regularity, as well as for aviation environmental protection. The Organization serves as the forum for cooperation in all fields of civil aviation among over 190 Member States.   The main elements of ICAO are: the Assembly, the Council, the air Navigation Commission. Its headquarters are located in the Quartier International of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. ICAO divides the world into Regions; each region having its own Regional Office (Africa-Indian Ocean, Caribbean, Europe, Middle East/Asia, North Atlantic, Pacific, and South America)   There are 18 Annexes to the Chicago Convention which contain ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SAPRS). Each Annex concerns a specific subjoin area of importance to civil aviation (Annex 1: Personnel Licensing, Annex 2: Rues of Air, Annex 3: Meteorological Services, Annex 4: Aeronautical Charts, etc….)

FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is an agency of the United States Department of Transportation with authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil aviation in the U.S. (National Airworthiness Authority). The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 created the group under the name "Federal Aviation Agency", and adopted its current name in 1967 when it became a part of the United States Department of Transportation. The Federal Aviation Administration's major roles include:  Regulating U.S. commercial space transportation  Regulating air navigation facilities' geometry and Flight inspection standards  Encouraging and developing civil aeronautics, including new aviation technology  Issuing, suspending, or revoking pilot certificates Regulating civil aviation to promote safety, especially through local offices called Flight  Standards District Offices  Developing and operating a system of air traffic control and navigation for both civil and military aircraft  Researching and developing the National Airspace System and civil aeronautics Developing and carrying out programs to control aircraft noise and other environmental effects of civil aviation.

JAA (Joint Aviation Authorities) The Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) was an associated body of the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) representing the civil aviation regulatory authorities of a number of European States who had agreed to co-operate in developing and implementing common safety regulatory standards and procedures.  This cooperation was intended to provide high and consistent standards of safety and a "level playing field" for competition in Europe.  Much emphasis was placed on harmonising the JAA regulations with those of the USA. The JAA Membership was based on signing the "JAA Arrangements" document originally signed by the then current Member States in Cyprus in 1990. Based on these Arrangements and related commitments, the JAA's objectives and functions may be summarised as follows: Aviation safety (through Aviation Safety Agency "EASA"), business effectiveness (contribution to an efficient civil aviation industry), consolidation of common standards, and international cooperation. The JAA started as the Joint Airworthiness Authorities in 1970. Originally, its objectives were to produce common certification codes for large airplanes and for engines in order to meet the needs of European industry and international consortia (e.g., Airbus). After 1987 its work was extended to operations, maintenance, licensing and certification/design standards for all classes of aircraft.

 European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA): The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is an agency of the European Union (EU) with offices in Cologne, Germany, which has been given regulatory and executive tasks in the field of civilian aviation safety. It was created on 15 July 2002, and it reached full functionality in 2008, taking over functions of the JAA (Joint Aviation Authorities). European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries have been granted participation in the agency. The agency's responsibilities include: expert advice to the EU for drafting new legislation; implementing and monitoring safety rules, including inspections in the Member States; type-certification of aircraft and components, as well as the approval of organizations involved in the design, manufacture and maintenance of aeronautical products; authorization of third-country (non EU) operators; safety analysis and research

IATA (International Air Transport Association) Air transport is one o the most dynamic industries in the world. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is its global trade organisation founded in Havana, Cuba in April 1945. IATA is an independent body sponsored by and designed to serve and represent the airline travel industry. It has become an important body for raising standards in the industry through agreements, training and information. Over more than 65 years, IATA has developed the commercial standards that built a global industry. Today, IATA mission is to represent, lead and serve the airline industry. Its members comprise over 230 airlines including the world's leading passenger and cargo airlines and representing about 93% of scheduled international air traffic. Therefore, IATA is the prime vehicle for inter-airline cooperation in promoting safe, reliable, secure and economical air services for the benefit of the world's consumers. The international scheduled air transport industry is now more than 100 times larger than it was in 1945.   IATA seeks to improve understanding of the industry among decision makers and increase awareness of` the benefits that aviation brings to national and global economies. It fights for the interests of airlines across the globe, challenging unreasonable rules and charges, holding regulators and governments to account and striving sensible regulation.   IATAs aim is to help airlines help themselves by simplifying processes and increasing passenger convenience while reducing costs and improving efficiency. Moreover, safety is IATAs number one priority, and IATAs goal is to continually improve safety standards, notably through IATAs Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). Another main concern is to minimize the impact of air transport on environment.   IATA ensures that people and goods can move around the global airline network as easily as if they were on a single airline in a single country. In addition, it provides essential professional support to all industry stakeholders with a wide range of products and expert services, such as publications, training and consulting. IATAs financial systems also help carriers and the travel industry maximize revenues.

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    $\begingroup$ Copy and pastes from Wikipedia don't make a good answer. Try putting it into your own words. $\endgroup$ – Danny Beckett Oct 18 '14 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ No , I didn't do that sir I have copy it from my notes please be sure $\endgroup$ – SAMER BABIKIR Oct 19 '14 at 21:10

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