Saviour Aquilina / The effectiveness of Public International Air Law: Comparative Analysis

Title: The Effectiveness of Public International Air Law: Comparative Analysis
Name: Saviour Aquilina
Organization: International Institute of Air and Space Law – University of Leiden
Supervisor: Prof. P.M.J. Mendes de Leon – Professor of Air and Space Law
Doctoral Committee: Not Confirmed
Expected date of completion: 31 October 2019
Email address: s.aquilina(at)

Abstract of thesis: The research intends to determine the effectiveness of the standards, included in the annexes to the Chicago Convention, which have been developed by ICAO throughout the years in aviation security, aviation safety and environmental protection. For this purpose ICAO standards will be compared with standards, included in annexes to EU legislation, which have been established by the EU institution. Before engaging on this task the study will compare the provisions of the Chicago Convention specifying the process and mechanism through which ICAO develops its standards with the provisions of the EU Treaties (TEU and TFEU) specifying the process and mechanisms through which standards are developed by EU institutions. The thesis will be divided in five chapters. Chapter one will deal with the effectiveness of ICAO. Chapter two, three and four will deal with the effectiveness of ICAO standards in aviation security, aviation safety and environmental protection respectively. Chapter five will entail an overall conclusion of the findings identified in the previous chapters and recommendations to improve both ICAO and its standards.


Renzo van der Bruggen / Consumer Law in Aviation

Name: Renzo van der Bruggen
Organization: Ghent University
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Reinhard Steennot
Doctoral Committee: Prof. Dr. Evelyne Terryn & Prof. Dr. Ignace Claeys
Email address: Renzo.vanderBruggen(at)
(Expected) date of completion: June-September 2017

Abstract of thesis:

Keywords: Air Passenger Rights - Delay - Cancellation - Flight - EU Regulation 261/2004

EU Regulation 261/2004 establishes common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding, cancellation or long delay of flights.

This Regulation provides almost similar rights to passengers of cancelled or delayed flights (passengers must be offered reimbursement; meals, refreshments, two telephone calls/e-mails; and if necessary, hotel accommodation). However, a financial compensation up to 600 EUR is only allowed for passengers of a cancelled flight. While the concept of ‘cancellation’ is defined by the Regulation, the concept of ‘delay’ is not. Discussions whether a flight is delayed or cancelled are thus inevitable. The criteria used by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in order to determine whether a flight can be categorised as cancelled or delayed are very casuistic and unpredictable.

In its Sturgeon case, the CJEU decided that passengers of a delayed flight are also entitled to the financial compensation when the delay is minimum 3 hours -which was not envisaged by the Regulation. This decision was based on the equality between both groups of passengers. Unfortunately, the decision created other inequalities and is not consistent with the Regulation.

The Regulation also failed to address some of the most pressing problems, and it did not fully resolve some of the key issues that it attempted to tackle (e.g. only delay at the departing point is taken into account, there is no framework for replacement flights, etc.). As a result, important gaps remained, leading to a lack of clarity in theory and in practice.

To cap it all, not only the scope of the Regulation is unclear (e.g. what to do with stopovers, is the Regulation applicable to all parts of the air carriage? Even outside the EU?), questions also arise concerning the validity of the Regulation as a whole. The Montreal Convention (to which the EU is a signatory) unifies certain rules for international carriage by air, including common liability standards in case of delay. Some believe that only the Montreal Convention can apply to these cases, what would make the European Regulation invalid.

To put in practice the Regulation together with the CJEU’s case law is not easy. Airlines, National Enforcement Bodies and consumers all interpret the Regulation and the CJEU’s case law in very different ways. In 2014 more than 876 million passengers were carried by air in the EU. It is vital that all parties in the industry, and the passengers themselves, know and understand the European air passenger rights.

My research aims to answer (some) legal and practical questions with a new and comprehensive framework.




Lalin Kovudhikulrungsri / The Right to Travel by Air of Persons with Disabilities

Name: Ms. Lalin Kovudhikulrungsri
Organization: International Institute of Air and Space Law, Leiden Law School, Leiden University
Supervisor: Professor Dr. P.M.J. Mendes de Leon and Professor Mr. A.C. Hendriks
Doctoral Committee:
Email address:
Expected date of completion: 2017

Abstract of thesis: The bedrock concept of this thesis is that everybody is entitled to the right to travel including the right to travel by air because air travel nowadays is a practicable mode for a long distance journey. However, for persons with disabilities to travel smoothly, the duty holders, States and private entities, are required to adjust facilities and services to reasonably accommodate persons with disabilities. The question whether persons with disabilities should be entitled to air transport services specifically adjusted for them regardless of the extents of costs and burden is debatable. Thus, the main questions posed in this thesis are how to balance the rights of persons with disabilities while not causing burdensome duties, either operational or monetary, to airports and airlines and how to treat persons with disabilities according to their needs without being contended by other majority passengers.

The research problem will be described and analyzed through theoretical angles which include human rights law, international and domestic civil aviation laws, and comparative law. As for the scope of jurisdictions that will be examined, the thesis will examine international, regional and national legal instruments, cases and rulings. This thesis selects to study only organizations and countries having specific legal instruments protecting right to travel in air transport for persons with disabilities. In international level, instruments from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) will be examined. The Airport Council International (ACI) is not touched because it does not issue any document on this issue. In regional and national level, legal documents, rulings and cases from the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), the European Union (EU), the United States of America (US), Canada and Australia.

Thomas Leclerc / Sustainable solutions for reducing aircraft greenhouse gas emissions

Name: Thomas Leclerc
Organization: International Institute of Air and Space Law (IIASL), Leiden University
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Pablo Mendes de Leon
Doctoral Committee:
Email address: th.leclerc35(at)
(Expected) date of completion: 01/12/2016

Abstract of thesis: Aviation produces around 2.5% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, with international aviation responsible for around 55% of this. Aviation emissions are increasing rapidly, at a rate of around 3-4% per year. But international aviation emissions are essentially unregulated at the international level. The consequences of the impact of international aviation are then no longer to be proved. A large part of the international community is aware that international aviation is yet responsible and will increase his participation in the world climate change.

In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol introduced environmental measures into the aviation field and charged the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to deal with the environmental performance of aviation. In this context the study will question how to reduce, in a global approach, aviation emissions of greenhouse gas and will analyze the formation of air law in order to reveal the best aviation policies to deal with the environmental challenge. The conclusions and findings reached on the basis of the analysis and the research of new solutions will be used to question to what extent and under which conditions a global solution can be implemented in order to deal with the aviation environmental challenge.




Neta Palkovitz / Regulating a Revolution: Small Satellites and the Law of Outer Space - Challenges and Opportunities

Name: Neta Palkovitz    
Organization: International Institute of Air and Space Law (IIASL), Leiden University        
Supervisor: Pablo Mendes de Leon        
Email address: neta.netnet(at)        
(Expected) date of completion: late 2018

Abstract of thesis:     

Small satellites and especially nano-satellites and standardized CubeSats are believed to be the future of affordable space exploration. First created in the beginning of the former decade by Professors of the California Polytechnic State University, the standardized CubeSats triggered a revolution in the perception of space activities. Today, they mark in many respects a new age of affordable small scaled private space missions. They are easy and fast to build, use “off the shelf” standardized components; enjoy a great number of launching opportunities at a fraction of the cost of launching a “normal” size satellite; their operations are simple due to the fact that most of these satellites cannot be maneuvered; and their operational life in orbit is usually short.

Due to these characteristics, small satellites are ideal for educational and scientific missions, training and capacity building projects in developing space-faring nations, technology demonstrations, collaborative space projects and swarms or network-based missions. There are several envisaged missions employing large numbers of small satellites. It is clear that the “trend” of small satellites is here to stay, as the market demand for small satellites missions is rapidly growing.

These innovative space activities raise several policy and legal challenges. For instance:

  • How should these new space activities be defined and regulated within the framework of the international space law treaty regime, originating in the 1960’s?
  • What balance can be found between the principle of freedom of exploration and use of outer space and the need to mitigate space debris? Especially considering the role of small satellites in capacity building projects of developing countries;
  • How do existing and emerging national space laws regulate space activities employing small satellites? And will states make voluntary efforts to harmonize the different national regimes in this context?
  • What kind of relations should exist between the regulators and the private space sector in shaping new regulations for these space activities?

More specifically, in the context of small satellites the question of applicability of international and national space laws arise vis-à- vis the need to find creative legal solutions and new standards in order to legally-accommodate the activities of the rapidly developing space sector. Small satellite missions also raise many practical concerns relating to state responsibility, liability, and the ability to exercise jurisdiction and control over the space object in question.

The title of this proposed dissertation addresses the abovementioned concerns by
reflecting the deep change the space sector is undergoing: on the one hand these new space activities introduce many legal and policy related challenges, yet, should these be met in an optimal manner, new exciting opportunities will emerge, forming tomorrow’s space sector.

Vladimir Sekic / Law And Military Uses Of Outer Space

Name: Vladimir P.Sekic
Organization: International Institute of Air @ Space Law Leiden University
Supervisor: Professor Dr. P.M.J.Mendes de Leon and Professor Peter P.C. Haanappel
Doctoral Committee:
Email address: vladimirsekic(at)
(Expected) date of completion: 2016

Abstract of thesis:

1. Terminology relating to space activities

2. Possibility to reach an agreement about legal usage of weapons in space for all kind of activities or in other words to update existing treaties and agreements with latest advancement in technology and political developments

3. Since existence of weapons for mass destruction on Earth is reality, I explore possibility of making legal platform for dislocation and testing of this kind of weapons in space but under certain international law standards and observed by United Nations

4. Possible cases of space militarization disputes and resolving by arbitration process by International Court of Justice

5. If an agreement is reached how to legally use weapons in space and this agreement is binding for all parties, this can help process of militarization in space.

Merinda E Stewart / The use of manned aircraft, remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) and satellites for maritime surveillance over the high seas at the EU borders

Name: Merinda E Stewart    
Organization: Leiden University        
Supervisors: Pablo Mendes de Leon and Simone van der Hof        
Email address:
Expected date of completion: Novermber 2019

Abstract of thesis:

Maritime surveillance data is gathered over the high seas at the borders of the EU in various ways, with the use of aerial equipment forming an integral part of the network. Its further integration is a focus of EU maritime strategy going forward, as part of a push to invest in new technologies. Although aerial equipment is part of a much greater network, there are a number of significant legal questions that are unique to the use of manned and unmanned aircraft and satellites, and which therefore make it suitable to address them independently of the other tools that make up the extensive body of maritime surveillance equipment.

The study is based on articles, with each article addressesing one of the key areas that have been identified as requiring further research. Articles centering on questions of air law examine: whether the aircraft used for such surveillance are considered State aircraft or civil aircraft; the (lack of) air traffic management (ATM) of State aircraft and the consequential risk to civil aircraft; the division of search and rescue (SAR) regions under both air law and the law of the sea, and the intersection of these two frameworks as it applies to aircraft involved in maritime surveillance. The thesis also examines the protection of personal data in relation to operations of Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, including the implications of data protection law on the expansion of the use of drones in Frontex operations. Finally, the research addresses the use of satellite data in the surveillance network of which Frontex forms a part, specifically the data sharing arrangements for satellite data in the European Border Surveillance System (Eurosur), the information exchange network to protect the EU’s external borders.

Clifford Themen / Implementation, Supervision and Enforcement of International Aviation Safety Standards; A case study of CARICOM and Suriname

Name: Clifford Themen
Organization: Leiden University
Supervisor: Professor Pablo Mendes de Leon
Email address: cjsthemen(at)
(Expected) date of completion: October 2018

Abstract of thesis: States party to the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention) have the obligation to abide by the Conventions’ provisions and the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) laid down in the supporting 19 Annexes when engaging in international civil aviation. Since the SARPS are not self-executing it depends on the Member States to implement these on a national level. Compliance with SARPs is of paramount importance for international aviation safety.

This thesis studies the implementation of SARPs by ICAO Member States. In order to accomplish this, a distinction is made between the following elements:

1. Implementation of SARPs;

2. Supervision on implementation of SARPs; and

3. Enforcement in case of non-implementation of SARPs.

These three elements are studied on an international, regional and national level whereby it will be analysed from a legal point of view, at which level the above tasks are most efficiently and effectively carried out. Furthermore, this study is complemented by a case study of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Suriname.

Wanlu ‘Laura’ Zhang / The Protection of Security in International Air Transport Relations with Special Reference to a State obligation to Prohibit/Restrict Airspace

Name: Wanlu ‘Laura’ ZHANG    
Organization: Leiden University    
Supervisor: Pablo Mendes de Leon    
Email address: w.zhang(at); fnzhang2007(at)    
Expected date of completion: September 2018

Abstract of thesis:

In the introductory chapter, the problems pertaining to the tragedy of MH17 are identified: first, whether States have the “obligation” to close their airspaces in face of armed conflicts within its territory? If so, under what circumstances? Is there legal basis underpinning such prescriptive construction? Second, what is the effective control’s legal implication on aerial sovereignty? Third, it possible to change the status quo, including regulatory provisions on risk assessment to protect airlines flying from, over and into conflict areas?

On the basis of these three questions, I have analyzed in the previous Chapters the existing legal regimes and come to the following conclusions:

  • There is no customary international law so far on the closure of air space (Chapter II).
  • Article 9 of the Chicago Convention is subject to different interpretations (Chapter III).
  • States in situ have endorsed the obligation to close its airspace and share information. This is underpinned by the precautionary principle, due diligence, and the principle of cooperation in international law. This is consistent with ICAO Standards and guidance materials. States ensure that airline operators domiciled in and operating from its territory abide by ICAO rules and regulations.  (Chapter IV and V).
  • ICAO may learn lessons from nuclear law regime to improve the information sharing mechanisms (Chapter VI).

Che Zuhaida Saari / National Space Legislation: Future Perspectives for Malaysian Space Law

Name: Che Zuhaida Saari
Organization: International Institute of Air and Space Law (IIASL), Leiden University.
Supervisor: Emeritus Professor dr. P.P.C. Haanappel
Doctoral Committee: Professor dr. P.M.J. Mendes de Leon, Professor dr. N.J. Schrijver, Professor dr. S.M. Williams
Email address: chezuhaida656(at); chezuhaida(at)
Date of completion: 21 October 2014

Abstract of thesis: The burgeoning of various space activities in outer space necessitates the emergence of national space laws. Having the international space rules alone is inadequate to govern and monitor the space activities, particularly considering the tremendous efforts accomplished by the private sector. As one of the state concerned, Malaysia demonstrated her interest when she successfully utilized the freedom of uses and exploration of outer space with various applications and activities. However, despite this involvement, Malaysia has no specific outer space legislation to govern the activities in accordance with the United Nations outer space legal rules.

This research studies the future perspectives for Malaysian space law. It demonstrates the development of Malaysian outer space activities inclusive of her status with respect to United Nations space conventions and her membership of international and regional space-related organizations. On the basis of assisting Malaysia to develop her national space legislation, this study analyses the legal frameworks of selected national outer space legislations. It discusses some major aspects that Malaysia should consider while drafting the content of her space legislation and explains why the legislation is necessary. It proposes a number of significant clauses that need to be incorporated in the Malaysian Outer Space Act. The study concludes with proposing a feasible draft specimen of a Malaysian Outer Space Act with an expectation that it can become a guideline to rationalize the actual Malaysian Outer Space Act and will positively influence the Malaysian law makers. It ends with outlining various legal impacts on Malaysia, ASEAN and world space activities should the enactment of the Act become a reality.


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