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air, law of the

air, law of the, in the broadest sense, all law connected with the use of the air, including radio and satellite transmissions; more commonly, it refers to laws concerning civil aviation. The development of large-scale air transport after World War I brought with it the need for regulation, both national and international. In 1919 a meeting of the victorious nations of World War I resulted in the International Convention for Air Navigation, commonly called the Paris Convention. The convention recognized the sovereignty of each state over its own air space without prejudice to innocent passage by aircraft of another state. It also provided that each aircraft (like each ship) must have a registered nationality. Rules were adopted as to the airworthiness of aircraft and the certification and licensing of pilots. The United States was among the 33 signatory nations but did not ratify the convention; nevertheless U.S. air laws were modeled on it. The Warsaw Convention on International Carriage by Air (1929) determined that the owner or operator of the carrier is liable for any injury, death, or property damage. World War II emphasized the need for sounder regulation of international air transport and for uniformity of equipment, laws, and regulation. An international civil aviation conference of 52 nations, not including the USSR, met in Chicago in 1944. There was much discussion of the "five freedoms of the air"—freedom to fly across the territory of a state without landing; freedom to land for nontraffic purposes; the right to disembark in a foreign country traffic from the country of registry of the aircraft; the right to pick up in a foreign country traffic destined for the country of registry; and the right to carry traffic between two foreign countries. The first two were accepted, but the fifth was bitterly opposed; only the first two were included in the International Air Services Transit Agreement, which was generally signed. The convention set up a provisional body that in 1947 became the International Civil Aviation Organization, affiliated with the United Nations. There have been several general conferences since the Chicago Convention and many bilateral agreements have been concluded by parties to it. In the United States, deregulation of the airline industry in the late 1970s led to the eventual dissolution of the Civil Aeronautics Board. Since 1984, U.S. air laws have been administered by the Federal Aviation Administration, a division of the Department of Transportation. The successful launching of satellites necessitated the development of space law.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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