The problems regarding aircraft liability in the international realm primarily relate to resolving issues of legal status of international airline passengers and cargo. The issues are defined as follows: sovereignty over airspace, the impact of aerospace craft on the environment, the role of aerospace technology in the international system, weather modification, air safety and international aviation relations. Remarkable growth and development in the range of air transport services and technology earned the sector a distinctive international character. The latter is the most outstanding feature of the industry which allowed 'every part of the world [to be reached] within a few hours of every other and, in doing so ... brought about a revolution in world trade, in business contacts, and in methods of diplomacy (Bhatt, 181).'
The principles of air law have been evolving at a rapid pace since the beginning of the Twenty-first Century, however, they also remain inadequate to meet the needs of contemporary society. Concern for this immense growth and the accompanying implications produced the impetus to devise a means to ensure orderly and appropriate development. Thus, the general policy of the world community in regard to emerging issues of air law demands the maintenance and promotion of a balance between technological advance in aviation and the preservation of a wholesome environment by providing adequate policies and prescriptions (Goh, 278).'
The initial governing treaty passed in 1929 is known as the Warsaw Convention. This is a multilateral treaty among nations that governs international air transportation. It was based on the idea that because aviation was in its infancy, there was a risk of destroying the carrier airline if there was a major crash. Therefore, it limits the liability for carriers. Unfortunately, this treaty also limited the liability for damages to injured persons. Because of the latter clause, the U.S. renounced its participation and proceeded to join the international aviation community in entering into the Montreal Agreement of 1965.
Maintaining Air space sovereignty
The Montreal Agreement was a special contract authorized by the Warsaw Convention which states that the parties can agree to engage in certain activities only if there is a consensus. The agreement also raised the limitation of liability, instituted absolute liability for any accident, and developed a criteria for recovery for which the injured party has to prove that the carrier was guilty of willful misconduct. This agreement only applies to flights that start, stop or end or those which connect with an itinerary that stops, starts or ends in the United States (Whalen, 21).
The predominant external factor addressed in the aforementioned treaties is the influence wielded by the existence of powerful aviation-centered countries as opposed to the smaller, less self-sufficient aviation nation states. One of the most important and controversial arenas concerning air law liability is that of airlines privately owned by governments. Considering this fact, there is a tremendous impact on the government and privately owned airlines to compete with each other for air space. As such, there are many controversies associated ...