Texas Aeronautics Commission

By: Dick Smith and Richard Allen Burns

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: November 1, 1995

The Texas Aeronautics Commission was established by the legislature in 1945 after passage of the Texas Aeronautics Act. The commission was composed of three members appointed by the governor for six-year terms to encourage and assist in the development of aeronautics in the state, including the establishment of airports and other air navigation facilities. Upon legislative appropriation of funds or grants from the federal government, the commission could render financial assistance in the acquisition, development, operation, and maintenance of airports, but it had no power of licensing or regulating. The commission was reorganized in 1961, when the Texas legislature amended the original Texas Aeronautics Act to ensure the state would continue a major role in the nation's air transportation system. The number of commissioners was increased to six, and the responsibilities of the commission broadened. The commission was given authority to acquire land for aeronautical purposes and to cooperate in activities of federal and state agencies, such as certifying air carriers operating within the state. The Texas Aeronautics Act was amended again in 1965, making grants available to local governments sponsoring airport development and capital projects. In 1972 the commission, with Texas A&M's Transportation Institute, developed and maintained a long-range airport system plan. In 1977 the agency was allowed to exempt certain classes of carriers from what it considered unnecessary burdens of regulation. In the 1980s the commission gave zoning authority to county governments, regulated structures that obstructed safe flight, and planned systems of communication, radio controlled lighting, and flight safety as mandated by the legislature. In 1989 the Texas Aeronautics Commission was abolished and replaced by the Texas Department of Aviation, which was given new and greater authority to administer federal appropriated funds for nonreliever general aviation airports. In 1990, because members of the new Texas Board of Aviation considered it a burden on free enterprise, they again chose to exempt scheduled intrastate air carriers from regulation. The short-lived Texas Department of Aviation was subsumed in 1991 under the Texas Department of Transportation and subsequently called the Division of Aviation.

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Dick Smith and Richard Allen Burns, “Texas Aeronautics Commission,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-aeronautics-commission.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1995