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Lesley Jane Smith

The application of satellite information for navigation purposes (more precisely: positioning, navigation and timing, PNT) has taken great strides since GPS and GLONASS signals became easily accessible to civil users in the 1990s. The added value of such satellite information was recognized early on, in not only the aviation, but also the maritime sector. Initial observations addressed Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) largely as a system exclusively for use in aviation; accompanying considerations for introducing a suitable legal regime at that stage were primarily driven by the concerns of the aviation sector. Viewed historically, the single-state governance of the above systems has precluded the development of any international overarching unified regulatory regime for GNSS as a system. With the advent of other (GNSS) such as EGNOS/Galileo (Europe), Beidou/Compass (China), GAGAN/IRNSS (India) and MSAS/QZSS (Japan), many other applications – in other transport sectors, in time-dependent business sectors such as banking, telecommunications and energy, as well as many leisure sectors – are now beginning to use GNSS. This has revived discussions as to whether all aspects and uses of GNSS should be addressed in a single upstream, general international regime, rather than leaving each sector to regulate the use of GNSS independently. In terms of the current law, the absence of a tailor-made specific global legal framework for GNSS means that its legal parameters are driven by a maze of sector-specific international obligations (such as those under the international space treaties) and sector-specific frameworks (such as that for aviation). The application of these rules has to be viewed in relation to the individual upstream operations and downstream services of the specific sector in question.

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Lesley Jane Smith

This chapter focuses on the impact of sub-orbital flight on the existing air and space transport liability regimes. It discusses whether the future sub-orbital or orbital aircraft services, designed to deliver new forms of faster and further aerospace travel, can be pegged with existing aerospace liability regimes, or whether a new sui generis sector-specific approach to liability for this growth sector is needed. It reviews the regulatory options available at national and international level, identifies the importance of dialogue and consultation across the national licensing systems, and highlights some of the considerations involved in identifying the best possible approach to a liability regime for this sector. The technical considerations involved in certifying and licensing sub-orbital craft are not addressed. Keywords: sub-orbital flights; liability; licensing; aerospace transport