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REGULATION OF AVIATION LAWS IN INDIA
On the onset of globalization, Aviation sector has subsequently been developing with the each approaching year. Been marked by fast-paced change, it holds an important place in a person’s life by providing a smooth connection between places and a country’s economic growth by facilitating international trade and tourism. Therefore, to regulate this growing nature of the sector, the law related to the air has been granted much significance in the past few years.
Due to the international nature of the sector, aviation is regulated by both domestic and international laws. Such laws encompass a wide variety of legal issues, ranging from liability for harm caused during air carriage to tax and environmental legislation. However, this article specifically emphasizes on the domestic regulations of the said sector.
In India, the nodal organization responsible for the formulation of policy and regulation of civil aviation is the Ministry of Civil Aviation (“MoCA”). This organization is primarily responsible for overseeing the planning and implementation of schemes for the growth and expansion of civil air transport, airport facilities, air traffic services and carriage of passengers and goods by air.
However, there are certain autonomous and attached organizations functioning under the nodal ministry. They are:
- The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (“DGCA”)
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation is a regulatory body which enforces civil aviation regulations including air traffic services to/from/within India; air safety; airworthiness standards and; other tasks including registration of civil aircrafts; licensing of pilots and air traffic controllers; certification of aerodromes and CNS/ATM facilities; conducting investigations into accidents/ incidents while taking accident prevention measures like formulation of implementation of Safety Aviation Management programs; among others.
Furthermore, DGCA is also responsible for coordinating with all regulatory functions with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Such tasks and responsibilities involve carrying out amendments to the Aircraft Act, the Aircraft Rules and the Civil Aviation Requirements for complying with the amendments to ICAO Annexes; coordination at national level for the flexi-use of air space; keeping a check on aircraft noise and engine emissions in accordance with ICAO Annex 16 and collaborating with the environmental authorities; and, promoting indigenous design and manufacture of aircraft and its components.
- The Airports Authority of India (“AAI”)
The Airport Authority of India was established with the aim of accelerating the integrated developments, expansion, and modernization of the operational, terminal, and cargo facilities at the airports in the country conforming to international standards both on the ground and in the airspace of India.
Tasks & responsibilities of the authority includes designing, developing, operating and maintaining international and domestic airports and civil enclaves; along with controlling and managing the Indian airspace extending beyond the territorial limits of the country, as accepted by ICAO. Furthermore, it also deals with construction, modification and management of information systems at passenger terminals and cargo terminals.
The Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (“AERA”)
AERA functions to determine the tariff for aeronautical services, including development fees and passenger services fees to monitor performance standards relating to quality, continuity and reliability of service.
- The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (“BCAS”)
On the recommendation of the Pande Committee, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security was established in January 1978, primarily as a cell in the DGCA by laying down aviation security standards and measures ensuring that the standards follow both national and international obligations/treaties on air security.
For example, one of its responsibility includes laying down Aviation security standards in accordance with Annex 17 to Chicago Convention of ICAO for airport operators, airline operators, and their security agencies responsible for implementing AVSEC measures. Moreover, it also monitors the implementation of security rules and regulations by carrying out survey of security needs and ensuring that the persons implementing security controls are appropriately trained and possess all competencies required to perform their duties.
Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited (“PHHL”)
This organization provides helicopter support services to the Oil Sectors for its off-shore exploration operations, services in remote and hilly areas as well as charter services for promotion of travel and tourism.
Furthermore, along with the authorities, as mentioned above, there are certain legislation governing the operations in respect to the aviation sector. Some of the principal regulations includes:
- The Aircraft Act, 1934 and the Aircraft Rules, 1937. These legislations have a two-fold objective, which includes firstly to regulates the manufacture, possession, use, operation, sale and import and export of aircraft and, lastly to stipulate the parameters for determining air worthiness, maintenance of aircraft, general conditions for flying and safety, registration of aircraft and the conduct of investigations.
- The Airport Authority of India Act, 1994. Along with establishing the Airport Authority of India (“AAI”), this Act makes the AAI responsible for the development, finance, operation and maintenance of all government airports in India.
- The Civil Aviation Requirements (“CARs”)
DGCA, India under Rule 133A of the Aircraft Rules issued the Civil Aviation Requirements. These CARs provide the standards expected to be met before a license, certificate, approval or permission is granted / accorded.
Such requirements include compliance procedures in order to –
- Fulfill the duties and obligations of India under the Chicago Convention relating to International civil aviation;
- Standardize and harmonies requirements, taking into account the rules and regulations of other regulatory authorities.
- Implement the recommendations of the courts of inquiry or any other committee constituted by the Federal Government; and,
- Address issues relating to the import, registration, safety and certification of aircraft operations.
- The Carriage by Air Act, 1972
The Carriage by Air Act governs the rights and liabilities of air carriers and applies to both domestic as well as international air carriers; irrespective of the nationality of the aircraft performing the carriage.
- Air Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008
Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act. 2008 or the AERA Act establishes the AERA and regulates tariff and other charges for services rendered at airports. Furthermore, the Act is also responsible for establishing an appellate tribunal for the adjudication of disputes.
- Aircraft (Security) Rules, 2011
These rules deal with the air safety and security regulations for aerodromes and aircraft.
Therefore, due to numerous circumstances, including the globalization of aviation, the involvement of numerous nations, business and commercial competition, and overlapping regulations, aviation law is considered to be a complicated area of the law. Even though, these rules and regulatory structure in place, as enumerated above are in line with what the country needs both domestically and internationally; however, there is a constant need for amendment with the growing age and demands.
 Paridhi Dave, Aviation law: all you need to know about laws governing unruly passengers on flights, iPleaders (Mar. 03, 2023), https://blog.ipleaders.in/aviation-law-all-you-need-to-know-about-laws-governing-unruly-passengers-on-flights/#Introduction.
 AZB & Partners Advocates and Solicitors, Aviation Laws and Regulations: Indian Chapter (Jan. 27, 2022)
 Radhika Mittal, An Insight into the Aviation Laws of India, Legal Bites Law and Beyond (Mar. 04, 2023), https://www.legalbites.in/topics/articles/an-insight-into-the-aviation-laws-of-india-355933.
 Sakshar Law Associates, An overview of the various Aviation Laws in India, Libertatem Magazine (Mar. 05, 2023), https://libertatem.in/articles/an-overview-of-the-various-aviation-laws-in-india/.
 Supra note 5.