The modern age of powered flight began in 1903 when Orville Wright made the first sustained, powered flight on December 17 in a plane he and his brother Wilbur built. This twelve-second flight led to the development of the first practical airplane in 1905 and launched worldwide efforts to build better flying machines. As a result, the early 20th century witnessed myriad aviation developments as new planes and technologies entered service. During World War I, the airplane also proved its effectiveness as a military tool and, with the advent of early airmail service, showed great promise for commercial applications.

Airspace Sovereignty

Before manned flight, the “Air” was considered “free” and no individual state had authority over it. However, with no authority, state and national sovereignty, national interests and security were compromised. This was most apparent during World War I with the development of the flying machine as an instrument of war.

the development of aviation sovereignty and regulation will be demonstrated below as time line :

Paris Convention of 1919 : (the Convention Relating to the Regulation of Aerial Navigation)

  • The first international convention to address the political difficulties and intricacies involved in international aerial navigation.
  • Attempted to reduce the confusing patchwork of ideologies and regulations which differed by country by defining certain guiding principles and provisions, and was signed in Paris on October 13, 1919.
  • The nations that signed the treaty were: Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, the British Empire, China, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, the Hedjaz, Honduras, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Roumania, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Siam, Czechoslovakia, and Uruguay. Ultimately, the convention was ratified by 11 states, including Persia, which had not signed it. The United States never ratified it because of its linkage to the League of Nations.
  • The treaty came into force in 1922.

Havana Convention of 1928: (Pan American Convention on Commercial Aviation)

  • As a consequence of the failure of the United States to ratify and the join the League of Nations, and therefore not joining the convention, the rules and provisions of the Paris Convention did not apply to the Americas. As a result, there was a need for a separate form of international cooperation on a regional American basis.
  • Formally known as the Sixth International Conference of American States, this meeting was held in Havana, Cuba, in January and February 1928.
  • it applied exclusively to private aircraft (government aircraft were not included) and laid down basic principles and rules for aerial traffic, recognizing that every State had complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above its territory and adjacent territorial waters. Clauses also enabled U.S. owned airlines to freely operate services within North and South America.

Warsaw Convention of 1929: (Convention for the Unification of certain rules relating to international carriage by air)

  • With the growth of commercial international air transportation in the 1920s, there came a need to protect air carriers (at the time mostly state-owned with the notable exception of the privately owned air carriers in the United States) from open-ended liability in case of damage to or loss of cargo or baggage and injury or death of passengers. And, on the other hand, shippers and passengers needed to be reassured that if something went wrong they would have an effective remedy against the carrier and be compensated.
  • The Convention was written originally in French and the original documents were deposited in the archives of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Poland. After coming into force on 13 February 1933, it resolved some conflicts of law and jurisdiction.