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What is Aviation Law?

Airspace and operations thereto are subject to an entirely new body of law. It is because the area and its regulation by law is one which is highly specialized in nature and encompasses within its ambit, travel, business operations, study and research, etc. Aviation Law as a different branch of law is said to mostly arise from aircraft tragedies and the defence lying thereof. The legal regulation of the subject matter of aircraft is within the nodal office of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The MCA, as commonly known is responsible for the formulation of law and policies thereof, at a domestic level. The ministry has the opportunity of firstly formulating and then the implementation of the policies and schemes.

Authorities of Aviation Law under the domestic legal framework of India: Apart from the Ministry of Civil Aviation, there are other authorities with functions specific to themselves:


  • Directorate General of Civil Aviation
  • Airports Authority of India
  • Airport Economic Regulatory Authority
  • Bureau of Civil Aviation Security


Technically, aviation law is supposed to cover the legalities and business aspects of flight and air transport, such as air traffic rights, aviation safety and security, economic regulations of airlines, and the operation of airports. Aviation Law is one of the most intricate subjects, because of a number of factors, including:

  1. The globalization of aviation;
  2. The numerous countries involved;
  3. The commercial and business competition; and
  4. The overlapping requirements.

International Law Regime:

On an international level, it is the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO),  established by the United Nations in 1947 governing the international aspects of aviation law. The primary purpose of the organisation and law relating thereto at an international level is to mediate international air navigation, flight inspections, develop air transport standards, prevent unlawful interference, and facilitate border-crossing protocols for international civil aviation. Another important facet of international aviation law is the regulation of the procedure in case of aircraft accidents and investigations thereof. It has given rise to an international industry trade group of airlines called The International Air Transport Association (IATA). Aviation in this context extends to both heavier-than-air and lighter-than-air aircraft.

The membership of the ICAO includes virtually every state in the world, has several component bodies, like the following:

(1) an Assembly of delegates from all member countries that meets every three years;

(2) a Council of representatives from 33 member states, elected by and responsible to the Assembly, that sits in continuous session at ICAO headquarters,;

(3) an Air Navigation Commission appointed by the Council for addressing technical matters;  and (4) various standing committees, including a Committee on Joint Support of Air Navigation Services and a Finance Committee.

The functions and activities of the ICAO include but is not limited to the following:


  • Establishing and reviewing international technical standards for aircraft operation and design, crash investigation;
  • The licensing of personnel, telecommunications, meteorology, air navigation equipment, ground facilities for air transport;
  • The search-and-rescue missions;
  • The promotion of  regional and international agreements aimed at liberalizing aviation markets,
  • The establishing  legal standards to ensure that the growth of aviation does not compromise safety; and
  • Encourages the development of other aspects of international aviation law.



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