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Aviation regulation?

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embe Posted: Tue, Apr 15 2008 8:13 AM

I've been wondering lately how the aviation sector would work in an anarcho-capitalist society, and how common rules regarding flying would develop and be adopted/enforced. I'm not concerned about things like airline safety etc. since this would obviously be solved through certificates and such issued by airline alliances and other industry organisations. In other words airlines will have to live up to certain safety standards and routines in order to recieve these certificates as proof that they are safe to fly with, and since just about all passengers would refuse to fly with any airlines that did not have these types of certificates it would be of financial interest to the airlines to aqcuire them and thus enforce certain safety standards. These "regulations" would most likely be even more efficient and perhaps also stricter in some ways than their government counterparts today, since it would be based on a desire from the airlines point-of-view to be safe and not just following the absolute minimums set out by the FAA, EASA, CASA etc.
My concern is rather regarding things like communication, air traffic control, international jetways, navigational equipment used, etc.
No-one can arguably own an airspace without actually homesteading it by framing/building something around it, which of course is not a solution for airplanes flying at 35,000 feet in the air across vast stretches of land slightly below the speed of sound. Thus it would seem impossible to enforce any common rules for flying an airplane in the air. How, then, would safe air transportation take place? I mean most airlines might of course set up common rules regarding navigation, communication and pilot licensing as well as constructing air traffic control centres around the world through the aforementioned industry organisations, but since no-one is forced to follow these rules nor the orders of the traffic controllers, there would inevitably be some people flying around at their own will, which of course would pose a serious danger to big jet airliners flying at high speed and not always being able to avoid other aircraft, even if they follow their onboard TCAS' warnings (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) or warnings from the air traffic controllers picking up the planes on their radars. Even just a small amount of small-sized airplanes flying "out of control" are enough to pose a lethal danger to any other plane in the air, big or small.

While I'm not too concerned with the operations of the airports (since they are private property and therefore have the right to do their own regulating of traffic landing and taking off at them), I do wonder however about things like how they would be able to keep unwanted traffic out of the airspace above them or in their vicinity, since having just one small unwanted plane flying around near an airport would disrupt the entire operations of that airport and pose a serious danger and obstruction to any airplanes landing or taking-off from it, not to mention that airplanes coming in to land have very limited fuel and will not be able to just circle in the air waiting for the "intruder" to go away. Equipping the airliners with guns to take down these types of planes as a form of "self-defence" wouldn't really work either since this would be dangerous to both the airliner itself to get into a dogfight with another plane, and to everyone on the ground whose bodies/cars/houses would be destroyed if a plane was blown up in the air above them.

Would there even be air travel in the way we know it today? Or would slower but more agile and helicopter-like aircraft constitute the sole operations of commercial air transport as a way to avoid accidentally smashing into other airplanes at speed and high altitude?

I haven't found any good articles or books regarding this subject, perhaps because writing such texts requires one to be both a free market anarchist AND posess a fair amount of knowledge about aviation and the technical/regulatory aspects of it AND finally spend a great deal of time figuring out alternative solutions to these problems etc., which is probably not a common combination. I myself only qualify for the first 1½ of these 3 "requirements".
Does Hoppe touch this subject in his "Myth of National Defense"? I haven't read it but I'm guessing that he must at least discuss the topic of air defense at some point in the book?
So anyways, if anyone knows any good material on this topic or have any ideas of their own, please share them here.

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Airplanes presumably would obtain easements to air paths they flew through regularly. These are not quite the same as full-blown property rights, but they're sufficient to allow airplane companies to require that people flying independently do not endanger their passengers whilst they're travelling these routes. Moreover, if an aviation firm issued a warning to all independents that its plane would be crossing this route, and they still decided to endanger it, I think threat of force (or even actual force) would be involved if this independent still decided to put the plane at risk, and that this would apply even in the absence of easements.

 

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Stranger replied on Tue, Apr 15 2008 1:19 PM

embe:

 

While I'm not too concerned with the operations of the airports (since they are private property and therefore have the right to do their own regulating of traffic landing and taking off at them), I do wonder however about things like how they would be able to keep unwanted traffic out of the airspace above them or in their vicinity, since having just one small unwanted plane flying around near an airport would disrupt the entire operations of that airport and pose a serious danger and obstruction to any airplanes landing or taking-off from it, not to mention that airplanes coming in to land have very limited fuel and will not be able to just circle in the air waiting for the "intruder" to go away.

That is sufficient grounds to claim airspace as exclusive and obtain it as private property.

 

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Bostwick replied on Wed, Apr 16 2008 8:15 PM

embe:
No-one can arguably own an airspace without actually homesteading it by framing/building something around it, which of course is not a solution for airplanes flying at 35,000 feet in the air across vast stretches of land slightly below the speed of sound.

I disagree.Unclaimed nature is first come, first serve. If you use it, you own it.

Anyways, planes have a pretty big interest in not crashing. I think they'd be able to avoid each other without any institutionalized controls. The place where planes would be most likely to crash, airports, would provide air traffic control towers just like they always have.

Be careful to not place too much of an emphases on institutions. Individual airlines can ensure passenger safety just as well as airline collectives could.  Just because regulation exists under government does not mean its necessary. In fact, regulations provide a level of cartel, helping business and hurting consumers. A free airline industry would be not have these cartel attributes.

 

Peace

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Len Budney replied on Thu, Apr 17 2008 10:35 AM

embe:
No-one can arguably own an airspace without actually homesteading it by framing/building something around it, which of course is not a solution for airplanes flying at 35,000 feet in the air across vast stretches of land slightly below the speed of sound.

I disagree.Unclaimed nature is first come, first serve. If you use it, you own it.

Right. Homesteading doesn't consist in building walls and fences. One can homestead radio spectrum or "noise rights" or hunting rights without fencing anything in. A right is homesteaded simply by exercising it, and entails whatever subsidiary rights are actually necessary to enjoyment of the homesteaded right. You homestead radio spectrum by transmitting signals before others do.

--Len.

 

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embe replied on Mon, Apr 21 2008 7:51 AM

Inquisitor:

Airplanes presumably would obtain easements to air paths they flew through regularly. These are not quite the same as full-blown property rights, but they're sufficient to allow airplane companies to require that people flying independently do not endanger their passengers whilst they're travelling these routes. Moreover, if an aviation firm issued a warning to all independents that its plane would be crossing this route, and they still decided to endanger it, I think threat of force (or even actual force) would be involved if this independent still decided to put the plane at risk, and that this would apply even in the absence of easements.

I do agree regarding independent planes ignoring airline warnings about their planes being scheduled to fly a certain route at a certain time, but I'm not so sure about the easements. How would these be acquired? Can they be bought and sold? How and where do I "register" them and let others know that I've obtained them?

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embe replied on Mon, Apr 21 2008 7:57 AM

Stranger:

 

That is sufficient grounds to claim airspace as exclusive and obtain it as private property.

How far up in the air does this property reach? Is it simply a matter of the airport deciding a specific height as they see required and then issuing a public statement saying that they have acquired this piece of airspace as theirs, and thereafter using some sort of air defense along with radio warnings and such to guard it against intruders?

 

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embe replied on Mon, Apr 21 2008 8:09 AM

JonBostwick and Len Budney: I'll hereby withdraw my claim that one can't homestead the air without walling it in or framing it. After all, I don't need to put up any visible perimiter around a piece of land (like a lawn) in order to own it, so I guess the same conditions would have to apply for an airspace too. It just seems far more complicated to lay claim on a piece of airspace that you're not using all the time or storing anything in permanently, nor being "visible" and tangible like the ground is. It seems like this could easily lead to conflicts over who owns it.

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I agree with homesteading the air, however it would get very complicated.  It seems different (but isnt) from homesteading land because there is no real limit to the heighth of it.  I have a question though, in an anarchist society where the air was homesteaded, could you homestead air over property that you did not own? And if so, what would happen if you spill oil, crash, or pollute the ground as a result of using your property (the air) over it?  Similarily, how would noise complaints work in an anarchist society, or would there even be any?

...And nobody has ever taught you how to live out on the street, But now you're gonna have to get used to it...

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Solredime replied on Mon, Apr 21 2008 2:35 PM

Regarding planes not crashing into each other, this can be envisioned just like the ice rink example I read elsewhere. It goes like this: Imagine an ice rink with 5 people on it. In such a scenario it is fairly feasible to have one person command these people and tell them where to go not to clash. Yet increase this number to 100 and this no longer possible, the centralised manager faces an impossible task of coordinating the 100 skaters. Worse yet is if you have a committee of people deciding on where to send the skaters. At best they will be able to draw up an enormous plan to coordinate everyone, but it will always be too late, as skating occurs in real time. However, if you allow the skaters to decide for themselves where to skate, they will mostly avoid collisions, except where they are unskilled or inexperienced. Basically an argument for spontaneous order. The same applies to airlines I think, the less centralised the control over them, the less likely that they will crash.

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embe replied on Tue, Apr 22 2008 5:06 AM

Fred Furash:

Regarding planes not crashing into each other, this can be envisioned just like the ice rink example I read elsewhere. It goes like this: Imagine an ice rink with 5 people on it. In such a scenario it is fairly feasible to have one person command these people and tell them where to go not to clash. Yet increase this number to 100 and this no longer possible, the centralised manager faces an impossible task of coordinating the 100 skaters. Worse yet is if you have a committee of people deciding on where to send the skaters. At best they will be able to draw up an enormous plan to coordinate everyone, but it will always be too late, as skating occurs in real time. However, if you allow the skaters to decide for themselves where to skate, they will mostly avoid collisions, except where they are unskilled or inexperienced. Basically an argument for spontaneous order. The same applies to airlines I think, the less centralised the control over them, the less likely that they will crash.

I'm sorry to say that it's not as simple as that when it comes to aviation. Even though pilots in modern airliners are able to see other aircraft in their vicinity using their TCAS radar, they aren't able to know exactly where the other planes are heading, and even if they knew this the pilots in plane A would of course not be able to know whether planes B, C and D are trying to avoid plane A at the same time as A is trying to avoid the other ones too, and which way they are planning to go, unless of course they constantly talked to each other over the radio, which just wouldn't be efficient nor safe. Furthermore, any plane flying a IFR (Instrumental Flight Rules) flight (which means all airliners and most other planes) also have a specific flightplan to follow, which would be complicated to stick to if they would have to divert from it all the time due to intercepting traffic in their vicinity, and the fuel costs for doing this would be considerable. The pilots are also way too busy during many phases of the flight to be their own air traffic controllers as well. Each plane would have to carry one more pilot on board to handle this task as well as modify each cockpit to provide this extra pilot with proper monitoring equipment, and that solution would still be very dangerous and inefficient. Very few planes are just flying around freely like skaters on an ice rink, and even if they were to do that a big jetplane isn't exactly be able to make sharp turns all the time to avoid other planes crossing their path. That would be both highly dangerous and very uncomfortable for the passengers and cabin crew.

 

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Solredime replied on Tue, Apr 22 2008 11:13 AM

Yes of course you're right embe, airlines require much more technology than ice skaters, and it's not as easy to implement. Perhaps because of the nature of airline routes and the fact that they are planned well in advance, it may be possible to coordinate between the different airlines and airports one huge map of where everyone is flying. But isn't this what's already happening? Yet we still see a surprising number of collisions and close calls. I think soon enough (potentially the technology is probably already there) it won't be particularly hard to equip every plane with a computer mapping out all other planes and their destinations. The people do not need to communicate, computers can automatically "talk" between the planes and determine where they are heading, hence no need for any additional pilots. I'm not saying we shouldn't have planned routes, of course we should, but pilots should be given more autonomy in deciding what to do in the case of a force majeur.

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