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Overview of the Italian jurisdiction and recent developments

The main set of rules governing the aviation sector in Italy are provided in the Italian Navigation Code, which constitutes the essential legal framework in terms of: administrative bodies in charge; air safety and security; aircraft ownership; airworthiness and operation; air transport services; voluntary and statutory liens; management of airports and ground handling services; lease, transport and charter agreements; air accidents and insurance matters.

An important role is also played by the legislation of the European Union, composed of both self-executing provisions (Regulations) and others (Directives) which the EU Member States - including Italy - are bound to implement by means of national laws. A significant example is the Regulation (EC) No. 1008/2008 "on common rules for the operation of air services in the community", establishing the administrative, financial and technical requirements to obtain an operating license from the local civil aviation authorities of each Member State. Other examples are the Regulation (EC) No. 785/2004 "on insurance requirements for air carriers and aircraft operators" and the Regulation No. (EC) No 261/2004 "establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights".

Furthermore, Italy has signed and implemented most of the main conventions and treaties on international aviation: the Rome Convention of 1933 on the Unification of Certain Rules relating to the Precautionary Arrest of Aircraft; the Chicago Convention of 1944 on International Civil Aviation; the Geneva Convention of 1948 on the International Recognition of Rights in Aircraft; the Montreal Convention of 1999 for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air). On the contrary, the Cape Town Convention of 2001 on International Interests in Mobile Equipment (and its Protocol on matters specific to aircraft equipment) has not been ratified yet and, therefore, the rules of Cape Town do not apply to Italian registered aircraft.

In parallel to the said International, EU and national rules, at a secondary level the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) and the Transport Regulation Authority (ART) are very active in issuing regulations, circulars, guidelines and recommendations applicable to the aviation field in Italy. Worth mentioning are also the Air Traffic Control Authority (ENAV) and Assoclearance, the association delegated by the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports to coordinate the slot allocation at the Italian airports.

During the past year the Italian regulatory authorities have focused their efforts to make the national rules compliant with, on the one side, the recent developments of the European legislation and, on the other side, the evolving technologies designed for the aviation industry (such as drones). In that respect the intervention of ENAC and ART in the following matters are certainly remarkable:

Application of revised airport charges

ART is carrying out a supervisory activity for the negotiation of new framework agreements between airlines and airport managing companies. In accordance with the principles of Directive 2009/12/EC, the aim is to support the involved parties in the finalization of comprehensive arrangements covering all relevant aspects of the airports' activities, such as traffic increase, service levels and quality, charges and fees. In particular the revision of airport charges will likely allow the managing companies to better plan investments for new infrastructures and business developments.

In 2016 new agreements have been entered into for the airports of Genoa, Turin, Palermo and Trieste, while the managing companies of Catania, Bari and Cagliari airports are still negotiating revised charges with the airlines serving these destinations.

Implementation of European rules on airports

ENAC is working on the Italian implementation process of the new European rules on airports, which is due to be completed by 31 December 2017. This activity involves the provisions of the Regulation (EC) No. 2016/2008 (so called "Basic Regulation"), the Regulation (EC) 1108/2009 (enlarging the EASA competences to include also aerodromes, air traffic management and air navigation services within the EU safety system) and the Regulation (EU) No. 139/2014 (laying down requirements and administrative procedures related to aerodromes), as well as the acceptable means of compliance (AMC), certification specifications (CS) and guidance material (GM) in the context of airport facilities issued by the EASA.

The road map prepared by ENAC for the said purpose identifies four macro-areas of intervention: regulatory and management; certifications and conversion of previous certifications; communication; training-education. The airports concerned by the required coordination actions are 38 throughout the Italian territory. In particular ENAC: (i) added a new section on its website entirely focused on Regulation (UE) No. 139/2014; (ii) prepared draft framework agreements between airport managing companies and the infrastructures' safety and security entities to improve the coordination of surveillance and prevention services; (iii) issued guidelines with instructions and practical information for airport managing companies on how to handle the alternative means of compliance (AltMoC), which are used to prove the achievement of the targets identified by the Regulation (UE) No. 139/2014, alternatively to the acceptable means of compliance (AMC) published by the EASA; (iv) will publish a regulation to elaborate risk management plans for the surroundings and areas located nearby airports in respect of prospective dangers and obstacles to the air operations.

Regulation of remotely piloted aerial vehicles

ENAC issued a new Regulation on remotely piloted aerial vehicles, which was largely expected in light the huge increase in the use of drones over the Italian territory and the consequent need to ensure an improved oversight and more detailed rules for the flight operations.

The preliminary distinction made is between "remotely piloted aircraft systems" (RPAS) and "model aircraft" (used for recreational and sport purposes). Then RPAS are classified on the basis of the maximum take-off weight (MTOW less or more than 25 Kg) and the flight operations divided in VLOS ("visual line of sight") and BLOS ("beyond line of sight").

The Regulation also establishes a mandatory third-party insurance pursuant to Regulation (EC) No. 785/2004 and subordinates the treatment of personal data collected by means of RPAS to the Italian Data Protection Code.

The distinction made by ENAC between "critical" and "non-critical" operations is relevant as well, since it implies different rules in terms of airworthiness oversight, maintenance program and authorization to fly.

On the other hand model aircraft (exclusively used for recreational and sport purposes and being under the continuous visual control of the operator") are subject to a more lenient regulatory framework, which does not require authorizations to flight operations and makes a difference as to where the same can be conducted (i.e. "air space reserves" established by ENAC on a case by case basis or dedicated areas within the Italian territory, selected by ENAC as well).