Air Law

Air Law


the legal norms regulating the use of airspace and air travel. There are international and national air laws. International air laws are international legal norms regulating the rights and obligations of states when using airspace for international air travel for exploratory and other purposes. National air laws are the legal norms within a state pertaining to the use of a given state’s airspace and the regulation of air travel in the nation’s air territory.

The point of departure for both international and national air laws is the recognition of the complete and exclusive sovereignty of each state over the airspace above its territory, including its territorial waters (for example, art. 1 of the Air Code of the USSR). An act dealing with questions of international air laws is the Chicago Convention of 1944, to which 119 states have subscribed (as of 1970). On the basis of this convention, the International Civil Aviation Organization was created (ICAO). Officially the USSR did not accede to the Chicago Convention, but it has declared its intention of becoming a participant in the future. Different questions of international air law are regulated by the Warsaw Convention of 1929 concerning the standardization of certain regulations dealing with international air transport (the USSR is a party to this convention), by the Chicago International Air Services Transit Agreement (in which the USSR does not participate), by the Rome Convention of Oct. 7, 1952, and by other multilateral acts, as well as by special bilateral agreements concerning air transportation.

The fundamental questions of air law in the USSR are regulated by the operative Air Code of the USSR; certain regulations are also contained in other legislative acts and decrees of the government of the USSR. In accordance with Soviet legislation, the air space of the USSR, over which the Soviet state exercises complete and exclusive sovereignty, is understood to include the space above all the land and water territory of the USSR, including territorial waters. Aircraft are subject to compulsory registration in the State Register of the USSR, and only citizens of the USSR may be included in the crews of Soviet aircraft. A flight during which an aircraft crosses the state borders of the USSR and other states is considered to be an international flight. Flights of foreign aircraft through the airspace of the USSR may only be made either on established international air routes in accordance with international agreements concerning air transportation or by special permission of the Ministry of Civil Aviation of the USSR for special single flights. Any aircraft that enters the airspace of the USSR without permission is recognized as having violated the law. Passport, customs, currency, health, and other regulations that are operative within the USSR apply to aircraft, their crews, and passengers either entering or leaving the USSR.

Also regulated by the norms of the air laws of the USSR are such matters as the legal status of aircraft, the activity of airfields and airports, the regulations for the air transport (including international) of passengers, baggage, and freight, and the responsibility of the shipper and other persons during air travel.


Kurs mezhdunarodnogo prava, vol. 3. Moscow, 1967. Chapter X, pages 294-336.
Vereshchagin, A. N. Mezhdunarodnoe vozdushnoe pravo. Moscow, 1966.
Shawcross, C. N., and K. M. Beaumont. Vozdushnoe pravo. Moscow, 1957. (Abridged translation from the English.)


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