Thursday, February 26, 2015
A UK court today held that airlines could not delay payments for compensation claims under EU 261 while awaiting the outcome of a related case before the European Court of Justice. In this case, Jet2 had been postponing payment to a passenger whose flight was delayed by almost seven hours because the delay was caused by a technical difficulty which the airline claimed constituted an "extraordinary circumstance" which exempts the airline from its obligation to compensate passengers. An analogous case concerning how to apply the "extraordinary circumstances" exemption to technical difficulties is currently pending before the ECJ.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Details are still emerging, but reports tonight of three Al Jazeera journalists in Paris for the operation of a remotely piloted aircraft illustrate the difficulty ahead in formulating appropriate public policy to meet the challenges presented by new technology.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
The ICAO Council will reportedly vote in June on whether to make the adoption of a family-assistance plans a recommended practice for States. The recommendation would urge States to develop a set of procedures to be followed in the event of a crash that would hopefully ease the burden on grieving families. With time, the measure could potentially be elevated to a required standard.
Friday, February 6, 2015
First reported by the Wall Street Journal, today's big story is the revelation that the three major U.S. legacy carriers are actively seeking changes to U.S. air transport agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. The U.S. airlines share similar concerns to those that have been expressed by European and Canadian carriers in recent years, namely that the so-called "Gulf carriers" - Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways - are benefiting from state subsidies that provide those carriers with an unfair competitive advantage.
It is not clear that the air transport agreements need to be amended to address these problems. For example, the air transport agreement between the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates includes the following language under Article 12(1)(c) "Intervention by the Parties shall be limited to...protection of airlines from prices that are artificially low due to direct or indirect governmental subsidy or support." However, provisions such as this are rarely invoked because of the difficultly in defining what constitutes an indirect governmental subsidy, and in monitoring states for violations.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is holding a High Level Safety Conference this week, and policy responses to last year's two high profile tragedies involving Malaysian Airlines Flights MH370 and MH17 have dominated the agenda. Reports coming out of the conference have suggested that the organization is responding with uncharacteristic haste to the issues raised by the two incidents.
Prompted by the disappearance of Flight MH370, ICAO appears to have secured sufficient backing to submit performance-based flight-tracking standards for approval at the 2016 ICAO Council session. The standards call for airlines to receive location signals from their aircraft every 15 minutes, and more frequently during periods of distress. It appears the standards will not include prescriptive requirements such as mandating the inclusion of deployable recorder technology in new aircraft.
ICAO also appears to have settled on a proposal intended to improve access to information about flight risks over conflict zones, in hopes of avoiding another accident similar to Flight MH17. Under this plan, ICAO hopes to host an online database that would contain information about risks over conflict zones and be accessible to airlines, air navigation service providers and states.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Nearly 11 months after its disappearance, Malaysian authorities have officially designated the incident an accident. The circumstances surrounding the search for the missing aircraft have long represented an awkward overlap between the Search and Rescue functions outlined in Annex 12 to the Chicago Convention and the Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation responsibilities contained in Annex 13.