Automation and liability in Aviation

Automation and liability in Aviation

A wave of new systems based on automation is rapidly changing the Air Traffic Management. Consequently, the work of the air traffic controllers all over Europe is changing as well. Do these changes affect attribution of legal liabilities? How?

Answering these questions is the purpose of the Automation and Liability in ATM course. In short, it aims to ensure that all actors and stakeholders concerned by the introduction of new systems based on automation correctly address and understand the complex link between automation and liability.

The course

The course stems from the forefront of the research on automation and liability in socio-technical systems. It proposes a new systemic approach to liability, in which we consider liability as a dynamic element of the system.

In this perspective, liability is not static; rather its allocation depends on the distribution of tasks and functions within the system. Consequently, liability allocation can also be set by design.
In other words, along with technical and operational aspects of the technology, liability can be taken into account during the design process of the system. This allows to ensure that the resulting liability allocation scheme is acceptable for all the actors and stakeholders involved.
The Legal Case is the concrete method this course offers to apply this approach of liability by design. As the other more famous Safety and Human Performance Cases, with whom it can combine, the Legal Case intends to make sure that liability implications of a new technology are opportunely taken into account and addressed during the design process.

The course couples theoretical explanations with the analysis of specific case studies and group exercises. This facilitates showing how the introduction of systems based on different levels of automation changes operations, and consequently liability.
The case studies addressed concern most innovative technologies. These include, for example:

Remote Towers and Remote Tower Centres
– New generation of Airborne Collision Avoidance Systems (ACAS X)
– Use of drone and the introduction of Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM/U-Space)
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Learning (DL).


After completing the course, participants will achieve a deeper comprehension of the complex link between automation and liability. In particular:
– They will have an understanding of different liabilities, which encompass both the way they spread among the various ATM stakeholders and actors (ANSPs, airlines, system manufacturers, regulators, ATCOs, pilots, system designers and engineers) and the way the introduction of increasing levels of automation can affect liabilities.
– Additionally, they will gain a concrete tool to analyse the level of automation of a specific technology, and to systematically study, based on task and function allocation, the way this can affect liability risks and attribution: the Legal Case methodology. In turn, this will make them able to identify issues potentially affecting the acceptability of the liability allocation scheme and plan suitable mitigation measures.


Interested individuals with an aviation law background are welcome, as well as experts in safety, Human Factors, automation and insurance aspects.

Location and dates

Location: EUROCONTROL Institute of Air Navigation Services (IANS), Rue Antoine de Saint Exupéry, 12, L-1432, Luxembourg.

Available dates:
– 16-18 June 2020
– 2-4 December 2020

For more information and to book your seat, visit the EUROCONTROL training zone.

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