Congressional Reformation Applicable to the Airliner Movement


E.H. O'Shaughessy's Reform

This reform required pilots to have at least 500 hours air experience, pass a qualifying exam, as well as a medical examination. Also, aircraft was subject to inspection. This program brought an eight-fold improvement, representing the best safety record of the day for any aviation activity.

The Kelly Act of 1925 (Contract Airmail Act)

The Kelly Act of 1925 was provoked by the vision of Juan Trippe. He used his Yale influence to persuade a fellow Yale friend, Congressman Clyde Kelly (chairman of the House Post Office Committee), to introduce an act that would open the flying of airmail to private contractors. The Kelly Act put commercial aviation firmly in private hands, averting any prospect that this industry would grow as an arm of the state. This act authorized the U.S. Post Office Department to sign contracts with private companies for carrying the mail at rates ranging up to $3 per pound, rates that amount to government subsidies for airlines. It is this act that ultimately enables the airline industry to evolve.


The Commerce Air Act of 1926

This act drew on the recommendations of a presidential commission and provided to the department of commerce to take on new roles. Its officials would arrange for aircraft to receive certificates of airworthiness, along with registration numbers. Pilots and their crew would have to pass tests and examinations. Also, all planes had to fly according with air traffic rules. Commerce had to produce maps and charts to provide assistance to the pilots, as well as weather reports. Investigation of accidents by the members was also a necessity under this act.


Foreign Air Mail Act of 1928

This new law gave the postmaster general the legal right to grant routes to "the bidders that he shall find to be the lowest responsible bidders that can satisfactorily perform the service." On the strength of this clause, Pan Am would crush its adversaries. It is interesting to note that this act was greatly influenced by Juan Trippe, again over his Yale mate, Kelly.


Watres Act of 1930

 This law changed the rules of the airline business, cutting mail pay and forcing the carriers to look toward passenger service, a strong technical base already existed that would permit designers to do precisely that.

Air Mail Act of 1934

 This act would mark a turning point for aviation insisted upon by FDR. As an initial act of expiation, airline officials who had been personally present at the Key 1930 meetings (Watres Act) would be barred from industry leadership. They would be blackballed; no carrier could win a new contract if it still retained such a person within its management.


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