Aviation Law

AIR LAW / AVIATION LAW

The civil aviation industry in India has emerged as one of the fastest growing industries in the country. India is considered to be the third largest domestic civil aviation market in the world by 2020. The Ministry of Civil Aviation is responsible for formulation of national policies and programs for the development and regulation of the Civil Aviation sector in the country.

The Indian aviation sector can be broadly divided into the following four categories:

  • Domestic airlines
  • International airlines
  • Non-scheduled operators (charter operators and air taxi operators) and
  • Air cargo services

Aviation sector in India is one of the highly regulated sectors. There are various laws, rules, guidelines as well as various regulatory authorities that have been established in this regard.

Some of the key legislations that regulate the aviation industry in India are:

  • The Aircraft Act, 1934 and the Aircraft Rules, 1937 – enacted to control the manufacture, possession, use, operation, sale, and the import and export of aircrafts. They stipulate parameters for determining airworthiness, maintenance of aircrafts, general conditions for flying and safety, registration of aircrafts and conduct of investigations.
  • The Civil Aviation Requirements – stipulate general guidelines regarding airworthiness, airport standards and licensing, aircraft design standards and type certification, flight crew standards and licensing, aircraft operations, air space and air traffic management, aviation environment protection etc.
  • The Aircraft (Carriage of Dangerous Goods) Rules, 2003 – It regulates air carriage of dangerous goods like explosives, radioactive material etc. and provides for the establishment of training programs for shippers of dangerous goods, operators, ground handling agencies, freight forwarders and agencies involved in the security screening of passengers, baggage and cargo.
  • The Airports Authority of India Act, 1994 (“AAI Act”) and Rules- established the AAI to administer and manage airports and aeronautical communication stations.

The following are the principal regulatory authorities of the civil aviation industry functioning under the authority of Ministry of Civil Aviation in India:

Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) – main regulatory body in the field of Civil Aviation, primarily dealing with regulation of air transport services in India, enforcement of civil air regulations, air safety, and airworthiness standards.

  • Airports Authority of India (AAI) – deals with integrated development, expansion, and modernization of the operational, terminal and cargo facilities at the airports in the country conforming to international standards.
  • Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) – regulates tariffs and other aeronautical charges, monitors airport’s performance standards, and provides Appellate Tribunal to adjudicate disputes between service providers inter se or between service providers and consumer groups.
  • Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) – deals with laying down standards and measures with respect to security of civil flights at international and domestic airports in India.
  • Important industry associations – Federation of Indian Airlines, Air Cargo Agents Association of India, Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association, Aeronautical Society of India.

The main legal hurdles in the Aviation sector are:

  • Airline start-ups, certifications and aircraft finance,
  • Registration of flight equipment,
  • Handling legal issues pertaining to pilots, engineers, technicians and allied crews,
  • Economic and regulatory investigations,
  • Airport infrastructure,
  • Litigation/arbitration support in cases involving air incidents, liability issues, and regulatory issues (international/domestic regulations),
  • Legal services relating to private aircrafts utilized for business or personal requirement,
  • Aviation related customs issues,
  • Protection of Intellectual Property of aviation companies,
  • Environmental issues relating to aviation sector.

We provide our legal services in this field.