(1) (h) “Civilian aircraft” means any aircraft other than military or other State aircraft.
- This definition is based on Art. 3 of the Chicago Convention, although that text refers to “civil air-craft”. The Group of Experts was divided on the correctness of using the adjective “civilian”. A considerable number of members of the Group of Experts would have preferred the use of the adjective “civil” because that is the term used in treaty law and in national military manuals. The majority of the Group of Experts, however, favoured the use of the adjective “civilian” in order to emphasize that such aircraft are civilian objects (see Rule 1 (j)).
- The Chicago Convention, as well as the SRM/ACS and the definitions contained in State national military manuals, all have in common that they are phrased in the negative. Accordingly, civilian aircraft are neither military aircraft nor any other State aircraft. For the definition of State aircraft, see Rule 1 (cc).
- According to Art. 17 of the Chicago Convention, “[a]ircraft have the nationality of the State in which they are registered”. Art. 18 of that same Convention provides that “[a]n aircraft cannot be validly registered in more than one State, but its registration may be changed from one State to another.” Every aircraft engaged in international air navigation must “bear its appropriate nationality and registration marks” (Art. 20 of the Chicago Convention).
- Civilian aircraft, whether of enemy or neutral nationality, are civilian objects and, thus, protected against direct (Rule 11) or indiscriminate (Rule 13) attack unless they are rendered military objectives (see, respectively, Rule 27 and Rule 174). Despite such protection from attack, civilian aircraft -– in the course of an international armed conflict −- are liable to interception and inspection (Section U). Enemy civilian aircraft are liable to capture as prize (Rule 134). Neutral civilian aircraft are liable to capture as prize outside neutral airspace only in the conditions enumerated in Rule 140.
- For more details on the protection of civilian aircraft, see Section I.
- Art. 3 of the Chicago Convention: “(a) This Convention shall be applicable only to civil aircraft, and shall not be applicable to State aircraft. (b) Aircraft used in military, customs and police services shall be deemed to be State air-craft.”
- Para. 13 (l) of the SRM/ACS: “‘Civil aircraft’ means an aircraft other than a military, auxiliary, or State aircraft such as a customs or police aircraft, that is engaged in commercial or private service.”
- Para. 12.6 of the UK Manual: “‘Civil aircraft’ means an aircraft that is not a military, auxiliary, or other State aircraft (such as a customs or police aircraft) and that is engaged in commercial or private service. (Definition adapted from the San Remo Manual).”
Para. 1009 of the German ZDv: “‘Civilian aircraft’ are all aircraft other than military aircraft as described in Section 1007 and State aircraft as described in Section 1008, serving the exclusively civilian transport of passengers or cargo.”
Categories: Section A: Definitions