At the head of a small but comparatively isolated community, traversing airspaces with various jurisdictions, the aircraft commander must have a defined legal status relating to rights, powers and duties to cope with all issues in international air navigation. This leading personality is responsible for maintaining good order and discipline on board but above all must protect the safety of the aircraft and its occupants during the flight.
His or her rights and responsibilities are dealt with in many national laws and regulations. But no matter how substantively applicable such national legislation might be, its effect ends at the national border – and if regulations on the legal position of the aircraft commander should have any practical value, they must also be effective on an international scale. As yet, however, numerous public international law efforts have failed to reach consensus in this matter.
In order to promote and encourage further international debate and the adoption of a codified comprehensive Legal Status of the Aircraft Commander, the author provides an in-depth study and evaluation of air law expert discussions, drafts and deliberations. His work will also be highly relevant to the current debate over plans for fully automated flights in the future – for passenger transportation even without an aircraft commander on board.