Code Section Group

Public Utilities Code - PUC

DIVISION 9. AVIATION [21001 - 24451]

  ( Division 9 added by Stats. 1953, Ch. 151. )


  ( Heading of Part 1 amended by Stats. 1961, Ch. 2071. )

CHAPTER 1. General Provisions and Definitions [21001 - 21020]
  ( Chapter 1 added by Stats. 1953, Ch. 151. )


This part may be cited as the “State Aeronautics Act.”

(Amended by Stats. 1961, Ch. 2071.)


The purpose of this part is to further and protect the public interest in aeronautics and aeronautical progress by the following means:

(a) Encouraging the development of private flying and the general use of air transportation.

(b) Fostering and promoting safety in aeronautics.

(c) Effecting uniformity of the laws and regulations relating to aeronautics consistent with federal aeronautics laws and regulations.

(d) Granting to a state agency powers, and imposing upon it duties, so that the state may properly perform its functions relative to aeronautics and effectively exercise its jurisdiction over persons and property, assist in the development of a statewide system of airports, encourage the flow of private capital into aviation facilities, and cooperate with and assist political subdivisions and others engaged in aeronautics in the development and encouragement of aeronautics.

(e) Establishing only those regulations which are essential and clearly within the scope of the authority granted by the Legislature, in order that persons may engage in every phase of aeronautics with the least possible restriction consistent with the safety and the rights of others.

(f) Providing for cooperation with the federal authorities in the development of a national system of civil aviation and for coordination of the aeronautical activities of those authorities and the authorities of this state.

(g) Assuring that persons residing in the vicinity of airports are protected to the greatest possible extent against intrusions by unreasonable levels of aircraft noise.

(h) Fostering and promoting the development of a stable and efficient regional air carrier system to provide access for small and rural communities to the national air transportation system consistent with federal policies favoring deregulation.

(i) Developing, in cooperation with the private sector, airport management, local jurisdictions, federal authorities, and the general public, informational programs to increase the understanding of current air transportation issues including, but not limited to, aviation safety, planning, airport noise, airport development and management, and the role of aviation in the economic development of the state, as an integral part of the state’s transportation system.

(j) Sponsoring or cosponsoring, with representatives of the aerospace and aviation industry, aviation educational and informational seminars which meet the needs of pilots and other members of the industry for current information on aviation safety, planning, and airport development and management.

(Amended by Stats. 1984, Ch. 850, Sec. 1.)


Unless the context otherwise requires, the definitions and general provisions set forth in this chapter govern the construction of this part.

(Added by Stats. 1953, Ch. 151.)


The acquisition of any land or interest therein pursuant to this part, the planning, acquisition, establishment, construction, improvement, maintenance, equipment, and operation of airports and air navigation facilities, whether by the state separately or jointly with any political subdivision, and the exercise of any other powers granted to the department by this part are public and governmental functions, exercised for a public purpose, and are matters of public necessity. All land and other property and privileges acquired and used by or on behalf of the state pursuant to this part are acquired and used for public and governmental purposes as a matter of public necessity.

(Amended by Stats. 1969, Ch. 138.)


This part shall not be construed as limiting any power of the state or a political subdivision to regulate airport hazards by zoning.

(Amended by Stats. 1975, Ch. 1052.)


This chapter or any other law shall not be construed as prohibiting, restricting, or permitting the prohibition of the operation or landing in populated areas of helicopters and similar aircraft capable of approximately vertical ascent and descent, subject to such reasonable rules affecting the public safety as the department may promulgate. The department shall adopt rules and regulations, effective January 1, 1989, for the conditions under which helicopters may make temporary use of a landing site.

(Amended by Stats. 1987, Ch. 1215, Sec. 1.)


“Department” means the Department of Transportation.

(Amended by Stats. 1972, Ch. 1253.)


Whenever the term “California Aeronautics Commission,” “Division of Aeronautics,” or “Department of Aeronautics” is used in any other law, it means the Department of Transportation.

(Amended by Stats. 1980, Ch. 725, Sec. 4.)


“Director” means the Director of Transportation.

Any reference in any law or regulation to the Director of Aeronautics shall be deemed to refer to the Director of Transportation.

(Amended by Stats. 1972, Ch. 1253.)


“Division” means the Division of Aeronautics in the department.

(Added by Stats. 1989, Ch. 1149, Sec. 1.)


“Commission” means the California Transportation Commission.

(Amended by Stats. 1980, Ch. 725, Sec. 5.)


“Person” means any individual, firm, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, company, association, joint stock association, or body politic; and includes any trustee, receiver, assignee, or other similar representative.

(Amended by Stats. 1994, Ch. 1010, Sec. 220. Effective January 1, 1995.)


“Political subdivision” means any county, city, city and county, public corporation, district or other political entity or public corporation of this State.

(Added by Stats. 1953, Ch. 151.)


“Aeronautics” means:

(a) The science and art of flight, including transportation by aircraft.

(b) The operation, construction, repair, or maintenance of aircraft and aircraft power plants and accessories, including the repair, packing, and maintenance of parachutes.

(c) The design, establishment, construction, extension, operation, improvement, repair, or maintenance of airports or other air navigation facilities.

(Added by Stats. 1953, Ch. 151.)


“Aircraft” means any manned contrivance used or designed for navigation of, or flight in, the air requiring certification and registration as prescribed by federal statute or regulation. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, manned lighter-than-air balloons and ultralight vehicles as defined in the regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration (14 C.F.R. Part 103), whether or not certificated by the Federal Aviation Administration, shall not be considered to be aircraft for purposes of this part.

(Amended by Stats. 1984, Ch. 12, Sec. 1. Effective February 22, 1984.)


“Airport” means any area of land or water which is used, or intended for use, for the landing and take-off of aircraft, and any appurtenant areas which are used, or intended for use, for airport buildings or other airport facilities or rights of way, and all airport buildings and facilities located thereon.

(Added by Stats. 1953, Ch. 151.)


“Air navigation facility” means any facility, other than facilities owned or operated by the United States, used, or available or designed for use, in aid of air navigation, including any structures, mechanisms, lights, beacons, markers, communicating systems, or other facilities used or useful as an aid, or constituting an advantage or convenience, to the safe taking off, navigation, and landing of aircraft, or the safe and efficient operation or maintenance of an airport.

(Added by Stats. 1953, Ch. 151.)


“Operation of aircraft” or “operate aircraft” means the use, navigation, or piloting of aircraft in the air space over this State or upon any airport within this State.

(Added by Stats. 1953, Ch. 151.)


“Airman” means any individual who engages, as the person in command, or as pilot, mechanic, or member of the crew, in the navigation of aircraft while under way, and any individual who is directly in charge of the inspection, maintenance, overhauling, or repair of aircraft engines, propellers, or appliances, and any individual who serves in the capacity of aircraft dispatcher, or air traffic control-tower operator. “Airman” does not include any individual employed outside the United States, or any individual employed by a manufacturer of aircraft, aircraft engines, propellers, or appliances to perform duties as inspector or mechanic in connection therewith, or any individual performing inspection or mechanical duties in connection with aircraft owned or operated by him.

(Added by Stats. 1953, Ch. 151.)


“Airport hazard” means any structure, object of natural growth, or use of land, which obstructs the air space required for flight of aircraft in landing or taking off at an airport or which is otherwise hazardous to the landing or taking off.

(Added by Stats. 1953, Ch. 151.)


“Airway” means a route in the navigable air space over the land or waters of this State, designated by proper authority as a route suitable for air navigation.

(Added by Stats. 1953, Ch. 151.)


A person who violates this part, other than Section 21407.1 or Section 21709, or any of the rules or orders issued under this part, is punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), by imprisonment of not more than six months, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

(Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 258, Sec. 1. (AB 295) Effective January 1, 2018.)


“Land” includes tide and submerged lands or other lands subject to the public trust for commerce, navigation, or fisheries.

(Added by Stats. 2001, Ch. 534, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 2002.)

PUCPublic Utilities Code - PUC