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ICAO again postpones Ryanair incident report

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ICAO again postponed the Ryanair incident report — and we provide the aviation law expert’s assessment


The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) announced that the report on the incident with the Ryanair plane landing at the Minsk airport will be made public only on February 22, 2022. A number of experts, however, already have an opinion about the dictator’s act: this is a criminal offense. Among them is Elmar Giemulla, professor of aviation law and flight safety at the Berlin Institute and a number of other universities.

In October, Elmar Giemulla spoke at a conference organized by the NAM in Nuremberg with a legal assessment of the incident. We have selected the main points:

  • Belarus joined the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation — the "Chicago Convention" - in 1993. The country has not signed the so-called transit agreement whereby states multilaterally guarantee unimpeded passage through their airspace. But this does not mean that it can do whatever it wants in its airspace.

  • According to the "Chicago Convention", all aircrafts can fly over the territories of the signatory states without landing. A forced landing should serve to prevent a hazard, and this hazard should be more dangerous than the consequences of a forced landing. In this case, it was not like that. Belarus has clearly violated the "Chicago Agreement".

  • In the absence of justification, this incident is nothing more than a government-sponsored hijacking. This is a violation of the 1970 Hague Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, which Belarus signed in 1971. Thus, the forced landing of a Ryanair aircraft is not only a violation of international law, but also a criminal offense.

  • The Montreal Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation of 1971, which Belarus joined in 1973, provides: anyone who deliberately, unlawfully and knowingly provides incorrect information and thereby endangers the safety of an aircraft in flight, is subject to criminal prosecution.

The full text of the report in English can be found here.

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