Air Law

  • To gain an insight into the depth of knowledge required for the PPL Aviation Law examination.
  • To encourage further reading of the subject matter.
  • To concentrate on the facts a responsible pilot will always consider before during and after a flight.

The list below are links to allow to access different parts of this page easily

To come back to the list use the backspace key or the back button

Chicago Convention 1944

Documents to be carried on an international flight

Certificate of Airworthiness

Personnel Licensing


Light Signals


Quadrantal rule

Rules of the air

Low Flying Rules

VFR Rules

IFR Rules

Air Traffic Services

Classification of Airspace

Search And Rescue

Distress And Difficulty

Aeronautical Publications


Chicago Convention - 1944

International Civil Aviation Organisation

The participating states made agreements covering the rights and procedures for air transport and air navigation, and set up ICAO to promote international flight operations.


registry - state where the aircraft is registered.

territory of state - land area & adjacent territorial waters.

sovereignty - every state recognises the complete and exclusive ownership of the airspace above a states territory.


  • On international flight pilot must hold a licence issued or rendered valid by state of registry of aircraft
  • Non-scheduled flights may cross or fly into other states without prior permission
  • Rules of the air - Aircraft are required to comply with the rules and regulations of the state over whose territory they are flying.
  • UK registered must abide by UK Rules of the Air wherever they may be.


Documents to be carried on an international flight

  • Certificate Of Registration
  • Certificate Of Airworthiness
  • Crew licences
  • The Journey Logbook
  • Radio Licences
  • If carrying passengers, the list of names and places of embarkation
  • If carrying cargo, a manifest and detailed declaration of the cargo


Certificate of Airworthiness

Valid for 3 years

Rendered invalid by lightning strike, mods and equipment refit.

An a/c can not fly unless it has a valid C of A.



Personnel Licensing


PPL(a) valid for 5 years (60 months), experience (2yr)

PPL(a) revalidation - 12 hours in 12 months preceding date of expiry including: 12 t/o and landings

6 hours pilot in command

1 hour with an instructor

Or proficiency with examiner check 3 months prior to expiry

90 day rule 3 t/o off & 3 ldg in preceding 90 days, as sole manipulator of the controls

Incapacity for 21 days or more, serious injury or pregnancy - must inform CAA in writing



Manoeuvring area- places designated for taxiing t/o and landings

Stand - area designated for parking (included in apron)

Apron - area designated for re-fuelling, loading & unloading and aircraft stand

TORA is length of runway available for take-off run

TODA is (TORA + clearway) - distance available to achieve 50'

Runway markings white

taxi-way centre line yellow

Signs - red background white letters

C aerodrome authority or atc

Runway lights - unidirectional in runway direction

Runway end lights - red

Threshold lights - green


Contamination of runways:

Damp: surface discoloured

Wet: soaked but no standing water

Water patches: patches of water

Flooded: extensive patches of standing water


Light Signals

Continuous red light to a/c in flight: give way, continue circling

Flashing red light to a/c in flight: aerodrome not available for landing

Continuous green light to a/c in flight: you may land

Flashing green light to a/c in flight: await permission to land




height - pressure at aerodrome elevation - QFE

altitude - pressure at msl - QNH

pressure altitude - altimeter reading 1013.25mb - FL(Flight Level)

transition altitude - altitude at which altimeter is set to standard 1013.25mb, and a/c flies on FL.

transition layer - difference in vertical separation from transition altitude to transition level (i.e. lowest achievable FL).


Quadrantal rule

magnetic track

FL odd




FL even


FL even+500'


When descending from FL to altitude: vertical position is given as altitude.

When climbing from altitude to FL: vertical position is given as FL.

Rules of the Air

Converging: a/c with other on its right must give way.

A/c with right of way shall maintain course and speed.

Approaching head on both a/c turn right.

Overtaking on the ground: keep other a/c on right.

Overtaking in the air: keep other a/c on left.

Low Flying Rules

A link to a pdf document on the CAA website.
Amendment to Rule 5

500' Rule: 500' from person structure vehicle or vessel

1000' Rule: 1000' from highest fixed obstacle within a horizontal radius of 600m

1000m Rule: 1000m within a gathering of 1000 people

VFR Rules

A link to a pdf document on the CAA website.
CAA VFR guide
Very useful, but quite a large document to download(1.62mb)

Airspace Class


C, D, E, F, G

Distance from cloud

Clear of Cloud

1500 metres horizontally

1000' vertically

Flight visibility

At and above FL100: 8 km

Below FL100: 5 km

At or below 3000' amsl


C, D, E ias<140kt flight vis5km

F, G ias<140kt flight vis1500m

IFR Rules

MSA: in order to comply with IFR an aircraft shall not fly closer than 1000' above highest obstacle within 5nm of the aircraft.

Quadrantal Rule: in order to comply with IFR, above Transition Level fly at a level appropriate to the magnetic track.

Flight Plan: for IFR in controlled airspace a flight plan will need to be communicated to the appropriate air traffic control unit.

Air Traffic Services

ATCC: Air Traffic Control Center

  • ATC to IFR flights in controlled airspace
  • Advisory Service to participating aircraft
  • Flight information and Alerting
  • Distress & Diversion


Responsible for control of aircraft in vicinity of aerodrome. All movements subject to permission


Not permitted to give instructions, but will provide traffic information and alerting


At aerodromes without any ATC


RAS - Traffic info and Advisory avoiding action to maintain separation


Traffic information only


Traffic information only

Search And Rescue

International distress frequency

121.50 Mhz

Ground to air visual codes


Require assistance


Require medical assistance


No or Negative


Yes or Affirmative


Proceed in this direction


Distress And Difficulty

Alert Phase:

A situation where apprehension exists regarding the safety of an aircraft and its occupants.

Distress Phase:

A situation where there is a reasonable certainty that an aircraft and its occupants are threatened by grave and immediate danger.

Uncertainty Phase:

A situation where uncertainty exists regarding the safety of an aircraft and its occupants.


Aeronautical Publications

ANO - Articles, Schedules and Rules

AIP - General, Aerodromes, Enroute



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