Aerospace Law



Aerospace or Aviation law relates to flight, air travel, and the legal and business concerns of the aerospace industry. Aerospace overlaps in a number of key ways with admiralty law, given their shared focus on activities that happen in unclaimed territories like international air space, outer space, and extra terrestrial planets and objects. Aviation law is also largely a matter of international law due to the international nature of air travel and the international consensus that space, the moon, and other planets should not be subject to ownership claims by any individuals or nations. However, aviation law is also a matter of US federal law.

In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the executive agency tasked with governing air travel. Internationally, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), an agency of the United Nations, provides rules for international air travel and mediates disputes between peoples, entities, and governments.

Some states and municipalities have their own regulations over aviation. For example, zoning laws can restrict the placement of airports to keep them away from residential areas or to limit their hours of operation to prevent interference with usual sleep hours and the quiet enjoyment of residents' homes and property.

Space law, an offshoot of aviation / aerospace law relates to matters of law in outer space (i.e., beyond the Earth's atmosphere). Naturally, this is a fairly new area of law but one that already has grown its own body of legislation, treaties, and legal precedents, as well as a strong and robust academic following.

For more information on Aerospace, Aviation, or Space law, check the resources below. You can also find an attorney specializing in these fields by clicking on the “Law Firms” tab, above.

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Aerospace Law - US

  • ABA - Aerospace and Defense Industries Committee

    The Aerospace and Defense Industries Committee was formed in response to the evolving nature of the US and foreign industrial bases and recognition that the aerospace and defense industries will play a key role in shaping the international landscape through the coming century.

  • FAA Regulations - Use of Airspace

    Our continuing mission is to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world. We strive to reach the next level of safety, efficiency, environmental responsibility and global leadership. We are accountable to the American public and our stakeholders.

  • NASA ISS Agreements

    Partners Commemorative January 29, 1998, marked an important milestone for the International Space Station as senior government officials from 15 countries met in Washington and signed agreements establishing the framework for cooperation among the partners on the design, development, operation and utilization of the Space Station.

  • National Space Policy of the United States of America

    The United States hereby renews its pledge of cooperation in the belief that with strengthened international collaboration and reinvigorated U.S. leadership, all nations and peoples—space-faring and space-benefiting—will find their horizons broadened, their knowledge enhanced, and their lives greatly improved.

  • Sovereignty and Use of Airspace

    The Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall develop plans and policy for the use of the navigable airspace and assign by regulation or order the use of the airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of airspace. The Administrator may modify or revoke an assignment when required in the public interest.

  • Space Law - Wikipedia

    Space law is an area of the law that encompasses national and international law governing activities in outer space. International lawyers have been unable to agree on a uniform definition of the term "outer space," although most lawyers agree that outer space generally begins at the lowest altitude above sea level at which objects can orbit the Earth, approximately 100 km (62 mi).

  • Space Policy Institute

    The Space Policy Institute focuses its activities on policy issues related to the space efforts of the United States and cooperative and competitive interactions in space between the United States and other countries. The Institute provides a setting in which scholars, policy analysts, practitioners, and students can work together to examine and evaluate options for the future in space. It is an affiliate of the International Space University and The Aerospace Corporation. The Space Policy Institute is directed by Dr. Scott Pace.

Aerospace Law - International

  • Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space

    The Rescue Agreement was considered and negotiated by the Legal Subcommittee from 1962 to 1967. Consensus agreement was reached in the General Assembly in 1967 ( resolution 2345 (XXII)), and the Agreement entered into force in December 1968. The Agreement, elaborating on elements of articles 5 and 8 of the Outer Space Treaty, provides that States shall take all possible steps to rescue and assist astronauts in distress and promptly return them to the launching State, and that Staes shall, upon request, provide assistance to launching States in recovering space objects that return to Earth outside the territory of the Launching State.

  • Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects

    The Liability Convention was considered and negotiated by the Legal subcommittee from 1963 to 1972. Agreement was reached in the General Assembly in 1971 ( resolution 2777 (XXVI)), and the Convention entered into force in September 1972. Elaborating on Article 7 of the Outer Space Treaty, the Liabiity Convention provides that a launching State shall be absolutely liable to pay compensation for damage caused by its space objects on the surface of the Earth or to aircraft, and liable for damage due to its faults in space. The Convention also provides for procedures for the settlement of claims for damages.

  • Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space

    The Convention was adopted by resolution 3235 (XXIX)1 of the General Assembly dated 12 November 1974, pursuant to resolution 3182 (XXVIII)2 dated 18 December 1973 and taking into account the report of the Committee on the Pacific Uses of Outer Space. The Convention was opened for signature on 14 January 1975.

  • Outer Space Treaty

    The Outer Space Treaty was considered by the Legal Subcommittee in 1966 and agreement was reached in the General Assembly in the same year ( resolution 2222 (XXI). The Treaty was largely based on the Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, which had been adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 1962 (XVIII) in 1963, but added a few new provisions.

  • Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space

    The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, which is usually called the Outer Space Treaty, is one of the most significant law-making treaties concluded in the second half of the twentieth century. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 19 December 1966 (resolution 2222 (XXI)),

Organizations Related to Aerospace Law

  • Air Force Space Command

    Air Force Space Command, created Sept. 1, 1982, is a major command headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. AFSPC defends North America through its space and intercontinental ballistic missile operations - vital force elements in projecting global reach and global power.

  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    AIAA’s mission is to address the professional needs and interests of the past, current, and future aerospace workforce and to advance the state of aerospace science, engineering, technology, operations, and policy to benefit our global society.

  • European Centre for Space Law (ECSL)

    The European Centre for Space Law (ECSL) was established in 1989 at the initiative of the European Space Agency and with the support of a number of pioneers in this field. Members of ECSL include professionals working in the space sector, lawyers, university professors and students. The Centre provides a forum for all those wishing to take part in constructive debates on space law and encourages interdisciplinary exchange between members.

  • International Institute of Space Law (IISL)

    Space law is an area of the law that encompasses national and international law governing activities in outer space. The International Institute of Space Law (IISL) was founded in 1960. The purposes and objectives of the Institute include the cooperation with appropriate international organisations and national institutions in the field of space law and the carrying out of tasks for fostering the development of space law.

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    NASA's mission is to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research. To do that, thousands of people have been working around the world -- and off of it -- for 50 years, trying to answer some basic questions. What's out there in space? How do we get there? What will we find? What can we learn there, or learn just by trying to get there, that will make life better here on Earth?

  • United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

    The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space was set up by the General Assembly in 1959 ( resolution 1472 (XIV)) to review the scope of international cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space, to devise programmes in this field to be undertaken under United Nations auspices, to encourage continued research and the dissemination of information on outer space matters, and to study legal problems arising from the exploration of outer space.

  • United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)

    The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs was initially created as a small expert unit within the Secretariat to service the ad hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space established by the General Assembly in its resolution 1348 (XIII) of 13 December 1958. It became a unit within the Department of Political and Security Council Affairs in 1962, when the permanent Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space met for the first time, and was transformed into the Outer Space Affairs Division of that Department in 1968.

  • United States Department of Defense

    The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country. The department's headquarters is at the Pentagon. The mission of Defense.gov is to support the overall mission of the Department of Defense by providing official, timely and accurate information about defense policies, organizations, functions and operations. Also, Defense.gov is the single, unified starting point for finding military information online.

Publications Related to Aerospace Law

  • National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law - Journal of Space Law

    The National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law serves the public and the remote sensing and space industry by addressing and conducting research, education and outreach activities related to the legal aspects of applying remote sensing, air, and space technologies to human activities.

  • Space Law Probe

    Provides information and updates on all matters regarding the space industry, legislation and current affairs.

  • The Space Review

    The Space Review is an online publication devoted to in-depth articles, commentary, and reviews regarding all aspects of space exploration: science, technology, policy, business, and more.




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