Air Traffic Services (ATS) provision is a critical link in the safe and expedient conduct of international air transport. In case of an aviation accident, liability for ATS provision is an important and complex parameter to be examined. This Article attempts to shed light on the main aspects of such liability.
The first part of the Article concerns traditional issues, i.e. problems that lawyers have always encountered. First of all, the legal nature of ATS liability is examined. Then, its scope is analyzed by reference to the objectives of ATS, the relation of the air traffic controller (ATCO) with the pilot-in-command of the aircraft, and the failure of automatic equipment. Subsequently, mention is made to the personal civil liability of the ATCO, jurisdictional problems, liability of regional ATS organizations, and insurance issues. Last, a short analysis of criminal liability arising out of ATS safety occurrences is made.
The second part of the Article deals with recent developments posing new legal challenges. First, questions pertaining to functional separation between service provision and regulation of ATS are presented. Second, problems arising out of cross-border service provision are examined, especially if there is no formalized delegation agreement. Afterwards, liability matters regarding the Single European Sky (SES) initiative of the European Community are analyzed. Finally, some thoughts on the recent trend to criminalize aviation safety occurrences are put forward.Air and Space Law