L'incontournable projet étudiant

In partnership with great European participants in aeronautical and space sectors:

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WP3 - Legal frame


Suborbital flights for the purpose of space tourism may still be “science fiction” but efforts around the world are ongoing to turn this soon into reality. Once such trips will be undertaken on a regular and commercial basis, i.e. for paying customers, they will have to be subject to the appropriate regulatory regime, be it at national, regional or international level, or all of those together. Commercial suborbital flights, due to their associated phases of flight taking place at different altitude levels during their trajectory may be considered as either aeronautical or space activities. Already today, there is a legal and practical debate over which legal regime should be applicable to these activities, and organisations such as ICAO and the UN have organised working groups and symposia to shed light on this topic.

Suborbital flights have a high technical, economic and even cultural potential. At the same time, suborbital flights also present a high risk for both participants (e.g. tourists or other passengers), crew and the commercial operators offering such activities – and potentially even for governments authorising them. Issues like safety, flight rules, liability, international coordination and many others need to be regulated as much is either not provided for yet, or the applicability of existing rules and regulations – e.g. in air law and space law – is not clearly defined. Some countries, however – like the U.S. – have already established a legal framework pertaining to suborbital flights.

Propose a draft regulation for Europe governing the liability aspects of suborbital flights activities, trying to achieve a regulatory balance between:

  • protecting participants of suborbital flights,
  • ensuring the safe integration of such activities in overall air and space activities,
  • enabling business, i.e. not over-regulating

You may be inspired by the existing U.S. regulation but you must take account of the specific European situation, looking inter alia into whether the EU would have a regulatory competence, and if so at which level. Subsequently, outline an appropriate draft legal text either at EU or domestic level, taking due account of the current state of technological advancement in suborbital flights as well as the various legal, economic and institutional realities in Europe.

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