The handbook of the international law of military operations
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2015
This chapter discusses rules governing airspace and aircraft during peacetime and armed conflict. Airspace is classified as national or international. National airspace lies over a State’s land, internal waters, archipelagic waters, and territorial seas. International airspace lies over contiguous zones, exclusive economic zones, the high seas, and territory not subject to the sovereignty of any nation. Foreign aircraft may enter national airspace when necessitated by force majeure or distress; every effort must be made to coordinate entry with the concerned authorities. In peacetime, no-fly zones or other restrictions are unlawful without a Security Council mandate. During armed conflict, the establishment of an exclusion or no-fly zone is governed by international humanitarian law and other applicable international law rules. Only military aircraft may engage in attacks. Aircraft involved in civil defence, humanitarian relief, or UN activities enjoy special protection, as do civilian airliners and there are general protections for civilian objects.