AVIATION LAW

PROPOSED MODEL LEGISLATION TO RECOGNIZE LIEN RIGHTS FOR CREW ON THE CIVIL AIRCRAFT

Yasar Ozturk

Attorney At Law 

Wages and benefits payable to labor are secured by law in most countries by means of special provisions of various Acts, i.e. Labor Act , Maritime Act, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Act and international conventions like UN International Convention on Maritime Liens and Mortgages 1993 while aircraft crew are not covered by the same or similar legislations or conventions. Aviation industry has been struck by the increase of petroleum price and insurance premiums, terrorist attacks and epidemics of diseases within the present and previous decades. The impacts of those clashes brought in the bankruptcy of numerous airlines leaving the crew with a tremendous sum of overdue wages and other benefits . Most of the said crew could not receive their due wages and benefits although most of them obtained a final and enforceable judgment from the courts or tribunals as the aircraft which was flown, served, maintained and delivered in airworthy condition, had already been attached with various incumbrances structured by the owners or operators or other third persons, which had a priority due to the privilege of the structured legal instruments. Claims for wages and other sums due to master and crew of a seagoing vessel have been secured by a maritime lien taking priority over all other liens and mortgages except the lien securing the reward for salvage by virtue of national laws and international conventions. The crew of a civil aircraft gives the same even more service, care, knowledge, skill, experience, devotion and altruism with a high degree of qualification and sacrifices health because of being exposed to high rate of radiation and fatigue compared with maritime crew and always being required of keeping far from stress and emotionally upsetting events . It is a clear fact of that any member of aircraft crew can not be free of emotional distress while having overdue unpaid wages and benefits with uncertainty on likelihood of payment and this will egregiously affect the flight safety. A securitization like a lien on the aircraft flown and served by the crew, which will have a priority over all other mortgages , liens and seizures and which follow the aircraft is deserved by the crew of a civil aircraft togetherwith the passengers and third persons who might be affected by their services on the air and ground and will help the promotion of a safer flight by giving peace of mind and confidence to the flying crew responsible for the safety of the aircraft, passengers and property. Therefore, it is enacted: Claims for wages and other sums due to the captain, officers and other members of crew in respect of their employment on the civil aircraft, including costs of repatriation and social insurance contributions payable on their behalf against the owner, charterer, lessee or operator of the civil aircraft shall be secured by a statutory aviation lien on the aircraft. Aviation liens shall take priority over all mortgages, hypotheques or charges and follow the aircraft, notwithstanding any change of ownership or registration or of flag. Aviation liens shall be extinguished after a period of two years unless, prior to the expiry of such period, the aircraft has been arrested or seized, such arrest or seizure leading to a forced sale. Two-years period shall commence from the date of termination of crew member’s employment contract and shall not run during the period that the arrest or seizure of the aircraft is not permitted by law. Any aircraft owned or operated by State and used only on non-commercial service shall not be subject to aviation liens.