Ireland: Aviation Law 2018 (Ireland)

Last Updated: 19 January 2018
Article by Donna Ager and Mary Dunne

1 GENERAL

1.1 Please list and briefly describe the principal legislation and regulatory bodies which apply to and/ or regulate aviation in your jurisdiction.

The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport ("DOTTS"), is the Government department responsible for aviation policy in Ireland. It has established the following entities to assist it in carrying out its functions:

  • The Commission for Aviation Regulation ("CAR").
  • The Irish Aviation Authority ("IAA").
  • The Air Accident Investigation Unit ("AAIU"), which is responsible for air accidents that take place in Ireland and air accidents that occur outside Ireland involving Irish registered aircraft.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA"), which is responsible for implementation of the EU emissions trading scheme.

CAR

The key functions performed by CAR are:

  1. regulation of airport charges at Dublin airport and air traffic control charges at airports with more than 1 million passengers per year;
  2. licensing of air carriers under EU Regulations;
  3. regulation of tour operators and travel agents;
  4. approval of ground handlers;
  5. overseeing slot allocation at Dublin airport; and
  6. overseeing application of EU Air Passenger Rights and Reduced Mobility.

IAA

The key functions performed by the IAA are:

  1. provision of air traffic management and related services in Irish controlled airspace and on the North Atlantic;
  2. the safety regulation of the civil aviation industry in Ireland;
  3. the oversight of civil aviation security in Ireland; and
  4. the registration of aircraft in Ireland.

The principal aviation legislation applicable in Ireland is as follows:

  1. the Air Navigation and Transport Acts 1936–1998;
  2. the Irish Aviation Authority Act 1993;
  3. the Package Holidays and Travel Trade Act 1995;
  4. the Aviation Regulation Act 2001;
  5. the Air Navigation and Transport (International Conventions) Act 2004;
  6. the International Interests in Mobile Equipment (Cape Town Convention) Act 2005;
  7. the Aviation Act 2006;
  8. the Air Navigation (Notification and Investigation of Accidents, Serious Incidents and Incidents) Regulations 2009;
  9. the State Airports Act 2004;
  10. the State Airports (Shannon Group) Act 2014;
  11. EC (Access to the Ground Handling Market at Community Airports) Regulations 1998 (S.I.505/1998);
  12. EC (Common Rules for the Operation of Air Services in the Community) Regulations (S.I.426/2008);
  13. EC (Rights of Disabled Persons and Persons with Reduced Mobility when Travelling by Air) Regulations 2008 (S.I.299/2008);
  14. Regulation EC/95/93 on common rules for the allocation of slots at community airports;
  15. Regulation EC/261/2004 establishes common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights;
  16. Regulation EC/1107/2006 concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air;
  17. Regulation EC/1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the community; and
  18. Regulation EU/373/2017 – the Air Traffic Management Common Requirements Implementing Regulation (ATM/IR) – effective 2 January 2020.

1.2 What are the steps which air carriers need to take in order to obtain an operating licence?

An aircraft operator involved in commercial air transport must be the holder of a valid Air Operator Certificate ("AOC") issued by the IAA and a valid Air Carrier Operating Licence ("ACOL") issued by CAR.

In order to qualify for an ACOL, an applicant must satisfy all of the conditions for granting an operating licence set out in Article 4 of principal regulation EC1008/2008.

ACOLs are divided into two categories related to capacity and maximum take-off weight, being category A and category B licences.

Category A licence holders are permitted to carry passengers, cargo and/or mail on aircraft with 20 seats or more. Category B licence holders are permitted to take passengers, cargo and/or mail on aircraft with fewer than 20 seats and/or less than 10 tonnes of um take-off weight.

1.3 What are the principal pieces of legislation in your jurisdiction which govern air safety, and who administers air safety?

The IAA is responsible for administering Ireland's international aviation safety obligations and agreements in accordance with standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation ("ICAO") and the European Aviation Safety Agency ("EASA").

The Safety Regulation Division of the IAA ensures specific compliance with safety objectives set down under section 14 of the Irish Aviation Authority Act 1993 and the annexes to the Chicago Convention which are implemented through a combination of EU and domestic Irish legislation.

The IAA's remit with respect to safety includes: certification and registration of aircraft airworthiness; licensing personnel and organisations involved in aircraft maintenance; incident reporting and management; the protection, storage and collection of information; licensing pilots, air traffic controllers and aerodromes; and approving and monitoring air carrier operating standards.

There are EU safety regulations relating to initial and continuing aircraft airworthiness that are directly effective in the EU (including Ireland), for example, Regulation (EU) No. 748/2012 regarding the implementation of essential requirements for environmental protection, and Regulation (EU) No. 1321/2014 relating to the continuing airworthiness of aircraft and aeronautical products, parts and appliances, and on the approval of organisations and personnel involved in these tasks.

1.4 Is air safety regulated separately for commercial, cargo and private carriers?

No, the IAA regulates commercial cargo and private carriers.

1.5 Are air charters regulated separately for commercial, cargo and private carriers?

No, the IAA regulates air charters.

1.6 As regards international air carriers operating in your jurisdiction, are there any particular limitations to be aware of, in particular when compared with 'domestic' or local operators? By way of example only, restrictions and taxes which apply to international but not domestic carriers.

The creation of the EU single market for aviation in the 1990s removed all commercial restrictions on airlines flying within the EU. Under the single market, all EU carriers can operate services on any intra-EU route.

Outside the EU single market, access to the air transport market is still heavily regulated under the framework set down in the Chicago Convention. Under the Chicago Convention, Ireland has negotiated bilaterally with a wide range of States to agree market access rights for both passenger and cargo services. A list of States with which Ireland has a bilateral air transport agreement is available on DOTTS' website: www.dttas.ie. Following the "Open Skies" judgment in the European Court of Justice in 2002, all market access rights negotiated by each of the EU Member States in their bilateral agreements must be equally available to all EU carriers.

Furthermore, under the EU's external aviation policy, the European Commission has been mandated to negotiate air transport agreements with certain third countries on behalf of the EU and its Member States. Under this process, so called "Open Skies" agreements have been negotiated, removing restrictions on capacity, routing and other limits, creating a free market for services between the parties to that agreement.

Most bilateral air transport agreements require that substantial ownership and effective control be maintained by nationals of each party to the agreement. Within the EU, community airlines are required to be at least 50% owned by EU nationals. The EU has indicated its willingness to negotiate these current ownership and control limitations with States prepared to similarly waive the requirement on a reciprocal basis. However, progress on this matter has been slow.

1.7 Are airports state or privately owned?

The three main airports, Dublin, Cork and Shannon, are 100% State- owned. Dublin and Cork airports are owned by daa plc. Shannon Airport is owned by Shannon Airport Authority.

The regional airports, the largest of which are Donegal, Knock, Kerry and Waterford, are privately owned.

1.8 Do the airports impose requirements on carriers flying to and from the airports in your jurisdiction?

Dublin Airport is the only Irish airport currently subject to economic regulation of its charges. Economic regulation of charges at Dublin Airport is based on the Aviation Regulation Act 2001 and is implemented by CAR.

Terminal charges are levied by the IAA at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports and until 2015 were regulated by CAR.

Under the Single European Sky ("SES") initiative, economic regulation of en route over-flights was introduced by way of performance and charging schemes to drive performance by setting binding targets on Member States Regulation 2017/373, which came into force in March 2017 and sets out the requirements for improving air traffic management and air navigation services within Europe which will apply to Member States from 2020.

All airlines must comply with EU legislation on consumer protection and reduced mobility.

1.9 What legislative and/or regulatory regime applies to air accidents? For example, are there any particular rules, regulations, systems and procedures in place which need to be adhered to?

The AAIU is responsible for conducting technical investigations into air accidents in Ireland, as well as incidents outside Ireland involving Irish-registered aircraft.

The Air Navigation (notification and investigation of accidents, serious incidents and incidents) Regulations 2009 ("2009 Regulations") give effect to the requirements of Annex 13 of the Chicago Convention and give the AAIU the powers it needs to carry out full and detailed technical investigations.

EU Regulation 996/2010 on the Investigation and Prevention of Accidents and Incidents in Civil Aviation is directly applicable in Ireland.

Following an investigation, the AAIU will issue safety recommendations to the appropriate aviation authority. The AAIU does not purport to apportion blame or liability in respect of an accident.

1.10 Have there been any recent cases of note or other notable developments in your jurisdiction involving air operators and/or airports?

Belair Holdings Limited -v- Etole Holdings limited & Anor 2015 IEHC 569 – the Irish High Court discharged a non-consensual interest registered on the International Register under the Cape Town Convention.

DOTTS published a Request for Tenders in November 2016 for a Review of Future Capacity Needs at Ireland's State Airports. A key feature of this review will be the timing and financing of a third terminal at Dublin Airport, as well as an analysis of future expansion requirements at the three airports.

DOTTS published a policy statement on airport charges in September 2017 which sets about reforming the prices charged by Dublin Airport to airlines, with the purpose of ultimately benefitting customers.

In an unreported judgment in 2017, the Irish Commercial Court made an order to discharge a validly created and registered international interest relating to a terminated sub-lease agreement on the International Register under the Cape Town Convention.

Please click here to read the chapter in full.

Originally published by The International Comparative Legal Guide to Aviation Law 2018, 6th Edition.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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