THE representatives of 54 nations -- all the world except the enemy states and the Argentine Republic, which were not invited, the Soviet Union, which did not attend, and Saudi Arabia, which did not accept -- gathered in the Stevens Hotel in Chicago on November 1 last. When they dispersed on December 7 some of the problems of international flying were well advanced toward solution, others were more clearly defined than they had been previously, and the difficulties still lying in the way of complete solution had become better understood. The Conference also had two other achievements to its credit: it had increased our store of experience with attempts at international organization and it had revealed some limitations of such attempts in the present mood of national governments.

It is pleasantest to speak first of the accomplishments. There were several. The most important, in its effect upon the legal status of international air transportation, came by surprise within a few days of the end of the Conference. The transit agreement, colloquially known as the "two-freedoms agreement," was formally proposed by the senior Dutch representative -- a very appropriate sponsor, in view of the unremitting struggle of the Netherlands for greater freedom in the air for more than 20 years past -- and was vigorously supported by the French delegates. It was introduced after a dramatic plea made by Mayor La Guardia and following a statement by Lord Swinton that the United Kingdom would view a transit agreement with sympathy. The agreement was thereupon made a conference document, open to separate signature then or later. By February 20 it had been signed by 33 nations. The number included all the great colonial empires with the exception of the Portuguese, and all the other leading aeronautical states and all states covering large enough territories to make the right of flying over them a matter of practical importance with the exception of Australia, China, Brazil and the Soviet Union. The signatures have been attached ad referendum and most have not yet been formally confirmed; but it is clearly possible to expect widespread acceptance.

The transit agreement does two things. It gives the accepting states a free and unlimited right of passage for the planes of each state through the air-space of every other; and it gives their aircraft a general right to interrupt their passage for refueling or mechanical attention. To realize what a landmark this is in aeronautical history one really needs to have lived with the subject during the years between the wars and to have seen at first-hand how firmly almost every state has repulsed any attempt to release international transport from its cocoon of multiple national restrictions. For the first time, nations which wish to trade with one another through the air can plan to do so, feeling assured that they can reach each other's territories without needing to meet the terms imposed separately by every state along the way. They are assured that, except for non-stop ocean crossings, they can halt for refueling at intervals which are economically desirable and will not have to carry enough fuel for roundabout flights. The participants to the transit agreement undertake to abstain from the rôle of feudal baron who levied private tribute on all the commerce passing along the highroads within his grasp. Some nations will gain by this more than they give; others will give more than they gain. For some it represents a large concession of a major bargaining-point. The drive toward the goal of freedom of transit has nevertheless found vigorous sponsors everywhere. They have been fired by the conviction that the maintenance of barriers to international commerce by parties having no relation to it except the accidental one of geographical position would represent an intolerable retrogression toward a closed world.

The second notable result of the Conference was a plan for an international aeronautical organization of much wider scope than any of its predecessors. The International Convention for Air Navigation which met in Paris in 1919 set up a Commission composed of members from all the participating states. Ultimately they numbered 33, but their meetings, usually held only semiannually, were concerned almost solely with technical problems. The Conference of Lima in 1937 proposed a similar body for the Americas, but it never was formally constituted.

Under the Chicago plan the international organization will be set up in two phases. There will be a provisional body, to become active as soon as 26 states have accepted the compact and simple Interim Agreement,[i] which will give way to a permanent organization, similar though not identical in structure, when 26 states have formally ratified the much bulkier permanent Convention. The Interim Council will act through committees and a secretariat. Its primary tasks will be to study and distribute information on problems of international air traffic -- routes established and planned, costs of operation, subsidies, tariffs, airport facilities, etc. -- and to develop standard rules of the air, regulations for equipment and personnel, and operating practices on airways. The participating states agree to provide the Council with copies of all agreements relating to routes and services and to require their international airlines to file full traffic reports and financial statements.

The permanent Council, which will probably come into existence in 1946 or 1947, will be authorized in addition, at the request of any contracting state, to investigate any situation which appears to present avoidable obstacles to the development of air navigation. Still wider duties are given it. If it believes that a contracting state's airport facilities (including radio and meteorological services) are inadequate, it may, at the request of that state, provide and administer the airports and other facilities used by international air services. It may, with the assent of the contracting states concerned, assess the costs and specify charges for the use of the facilities. In short, the new agreement offers an opportunity for great progress in welding the world's airways into a unit. It does not assure uniform economic practices by the different states -- in regard to subsidies, for example -- but it offers hope of eliminating at least some of the differences of opinion as to what these practices actually are.

The Council will have 21 members, and will be elected by an Assembly in which every state will have an equal vote. In the first election for the Interim Council, held at Chicago, representation was given to the following: the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Peru, El Salvador, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, India,[ii] France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, China. Canada was chosen as the seat of the interim organization.

The Council will elect its own president, who will be a salaried official, representing no nation and pledged to be influenced by none. Each state is to have a right to participate in the work of every committee except two. Potentially, therefore, each committee will have more than 50 members. This number is unwieldy, but it was argued that most committees will be created for highly specialized purposes and that only states which feel a particular concern with the subject will take the trouble to send representatives. Some states insisted firmly that they must have the right to name a representative for every discussion, if they cared to do so.

The Committee on Air Transport, one of the exceptions to this rule, is defined merely as a body chosen by the Council from its own membership. The Air Navigation Commission, the other exception, which is to deal with technical matters, will be composed of members selected as individuals. The states will make nominations and the Council will choose from among them, presumably having regard both to personal qualifications and a regional distribution of the membership. Though membership will be personal, the members will not lose their national identities as do the staff of the secretariat, but will remain representatives of the countries which nominated them. The device of blending personal and national qualifications in selecting members of an international organization is a new one, but may prove valuable.

Continuing the precedent established under the International Convention for Air Navigation the permanent Council will have the power to adopt or amend technical annexes to the Convention, acting by a two-thirds vote and upon the advice of the Air Transport Commission. Standardization in such matters as rules of the road is essential, and a large degree of uniformity is highly desirable in regard to such questions as the qualifications of flying personnel and the standards of safety of aircraft. Common decisions are also needed on unexpected problems. For example -- as was pointed out in Chicago -- countries which have large areas of forest or jungle may repeatedly be put to great expense in searching for lost foreign aircraft, and there should be some agreement regarding apportionment of the costs. Topics like these were the subject of study by 11 subcommittees in Chicago, and a remarkable unanimity was achieved even in matters on which national practices have varied widely in the past. The subcommittee on maps, for example, agreed fully upon the symbols to be used for denoting airports, etc., and upon the tints to indicate various altitudes -- an agreement of immense practical aid to pilots.

The attachment of provisos on technical standards to an international agreement creates some interesting legal problems. The permanent Convention will have the form of a treaty; but nations could scarcely be expected to ratify a document which might be greatly changed without renewed reference to the ratifying authorities. Yet the arts of aircraft design and air navigation are constantly developing, and standards governing them must obviously be kept highly flexible. Hope of keeping the standards up to date would disappear if they were to be incorporated in the Convention and fresh ratification by all the participating governments were required whenever a change were made. The expedient chosen was to give the permanent Council full power to adopt, amend or annul technical annexes to the Convention at any time by a two-thirds vote; but those annexes are not to be given compulsive force. There will be no binding obligation on any nation to keep to an international standard. I am confident, however, that when the Council has actually adopted a standard practice of any sort, individual states will wish in their own interest to keep to it.

The Chicago Convention also breaks new ground in escaping from the rule of unanimity which puts a single reluctant (or merely dilatory) state in a position to prevent action. The terms of the Convention itself will be subject to amendment by a two-thirds vote in the Assembly, but an amendment will give obligations and privileges only to states which accept it. The Assembly will, however, have the power of cancelling the membership in the organization of any state failing to accept a crucial amendment.

Last among the noteworthy achievements at Chicago is the so-called "five-freedoms" agreement, which will bring about virtually complete freedom of the air for transport purposes among the states accepting it. Transport planes of the signatories will have full rights to pick up and set down passengers and goods in each other's territory, except that each nation may reserve its own internal traffic (cabotage) for its own nationals, and subject to a specification that an airline must start in its own metropolitan territory and proceed to its most distant terminus with reasonable directness. In other words, it is not permissible to lay out routes that wander and wind in search of local traffic. Within those two limits, the nature and volume of the operations allowed will be unlimited.

The five-freedoms agreement was strongly advocated by the spokesman of the American delegation. As of February 20, 19 states had signed it without reservation, including Sweden, China, Afghanistan and Lebanon, together with Mexico and ten other states of Latin America. Turkey and the Netherlands signed with a reservation restricting the privileges extended.

New Zealand, supported by Australia, proposed a complete internationalization of control and operation of major routes. New Zealand's senior delegate at Chicago, Mr. D. G. Sullivan, Minister of Industries, Commerce, Supply and Munitions, presented his case with deep conviction. But few governments seem likely to surrender the hope of running long-distance airlines under the national flag, and even in the delegations where Mr. Sullivan's aims were most respected there was doubt whether the proposal was practicable. The strength of national feeling makes it hard to conceive of employing personnel and selecting equipment without reference to nationality, as would be necessary in any true internationalization of airlines.


The main unfinished business at Chicago concerned the rights of conducting trade. The two-freedoms agreement on transit will enable commercial aircraft to go wherever trade is to be found; but actually to engage in picking up and discharging passengers and goods will be possible only in the territories of the limited number of states which have signed the five-freedoms agreement. If trade is to be carried on, either a new attempt must be made to find a general formula or a network of bilateral, trilateral and quadrilateral pacts must be negotiated. The latter is currently being done. Agreements between the United States and Spain, Sweden, and Ireland have recently been announced, and no doubt there will be more. Though resort to this method is disappointing it at least does not represent any retrogression from the past. The common prewar practice was to negotiate bilateral agreements, complicated by the necessity of including in the negotiation all the countries over which the proposed route was to pass, whether or not commercial rights were sought in all of them. Sometimes commercial airlines obtained permits directly from foreign governments in their own names. That practice had been common in the operations of Pan American Airways in the western hemisphere, but rare elsewhere. Most informed Americans felt that bilateral negotiation would continue to be necessary, not because of any lack of sympathy with the idea of an inclusive agreement but because they doubted that an acceptable formula could be found. Unfortunately Chicago justified their pessimism.

One feature of the five-freedoms proposal, to be sure, seemed to have unanimous support. In theory, no exception was taken to the idea that every state should have a right to run its own airlines from its homeland to any other part of the world and to engage in commerce where it would. There was an initial difference over whether the privilege should include taking and discharging cargo at all the points touched along the way, or whether it should cover only the carriage of traffic originating in or destined for the airlines' own national territory; [iii] but even that difference was fleeting, and the broader version was agreed to. The difficulty arose over the conditions which would govern operations over the routes thus universally authorized. Specifically, the insuperable obstacle proved to be the determination of the type and degree of limitation, if any, that should apply to the "capacity" of the carriers of each nation over each of its routes.[iv]

Such restrictions were common in the past, usually taking the form of a maximum limit on the number of schedules to be operated by each party to a long-term agreement. For example, when the United States and the United Kingdom made the agreement under which they started transatlantic commercial flying in May 1939, each party was allowed a maximum of two round trips a week between its territory and that of the other state. But since the hope that the sky will be less restricted after the war has been general, a reëxamination of the question of limitations seems in order. There are five general alternatives, all but one of which had earnest examination at or before Chicago: (1) No limitation; capacity to be determined solely at the discretion of the airline or its own government. (2) Fixed limitation through the terms of a route agreement; in the past, as noted above, this was common. (3) Flexible limitation through the terms of a route agreement as, for example, through a provision that the operating capacities initially established may be reconsidered at any time at the request of either of the parties, and that revisions will be made as necessary to fulfill an initially agreed set of principles, purposes or standards. (4) Limitation by reference to the continuing jurisdiction of an agreed tribunal, giving it power to determine and redetermine capacity, either in accordance with previously agreed general standards and principles or in the light of such principles as the tribunal itself may develop. (5) Limitation by a formula which is sufficiently complete and specific to be applicable automatically to each case that may arise, leaving no room for reasonable doubt as to interpretation.

The first three can be passed over lightly. The preference of the American delegation at Chicago for the first has already been noted, as also the unwillingness of some of the other states to concur, for reasons to be commented on below. The second has the obvious defects of rigidity. With air transport developing so rapidly, almost any figure fixed upon to define a reasonable operating capacity for a new route would probably look absurd within a couple of years. Also, this procedure reduces competition and hampers the choice of the customers among competing services, since there is a natural tendency for each party to resist modifying the terms so as to allow an increase of capacity to the other party unless its own airplanes are running full. If patrons filled the planes of one country while leaving those of the other empty, the less-favored state would scarcely agree to revise the agreement so as to authorize its rival to increase its service and acquire still more of the traffic. The third alternative, designed to escape the rigidity of the second, has not been tried. I believe it has possibilities which should be explored, but I shall not attempt the analysis here.

The other alternatives -- control by an accepted tribunal and control by a self-operating formula -- have been in the foreground in the discussions of recent months. Both raise large questions of principle and practice.

Early last spring, both the British and the Canadian Governments declared themselves in favor of referring the problems of operating rights to an international board. However, the American Government has consistently refused to accept the idea of giving an international air authority compulsory jurisdiction. This position has been widely criticized as being inconsistent with the governmental regulation of air transportation within the United States. A frequent comment is that it is very odd for the United States, which devised the Civil Aeronautics Board and has made good use of it, not to be willing to extend a system of proven value into the international field.[v] Even the London Times, which has presented the position of all parties in these debates with scrupulous balance and exceptional understanding, has said that the opposition of the American delegates "to the International extension of a system which has served them so well wears an air of paradox." [vi] An American ought to explain, then, why the criticism appears ill-founded.

The argument seems to us to fail on the score of imperfect analogy. There has been no serious proposal to create an international tribunal that would have the actual character of the Civil Aeronautics Board.

Americans have presented two major objections to regulation by an international authority, aside from the general objection to any regulation or limitations: 1, that no set of principles has been proposed for the authority's guidance; and 2, that in such circumstances its decisions would be as uncertain as those of a judge with no law to guide him. The first objection might be overcome. It would be difficult for all nations to agree upon a set of principles as specific as the prefatory declaration of principles and purposes in the Civil Aeronautics Act, but it should not be impossible.

The second objection is more serious. The members of the Civil Aeronautics Board, like those of other specialized tribunals in Washington, are appointed by the President. They are chosen as individuals and are responsible to no interest except that of the nation. The present members happen to come from five widely-separated parts of the United States, but in their official capacity they are associated in a common purpose. They often disagree; but their disagreements are those of individuals who arrive at different conclusions from the same set of facts, not of partisan advocates of conflicting interests.

In contrast, the only type of international board that has been seriously considered is one in which the states would have unlimited power to appoint and replace their representatives. Inevitably, the primary loyalty of such members would be to the states that appointed them rather than to a collective interest. They might be men of the highest character, deeply concerned for the welfare of all mankind and anxious to see the benefits of air transportation shared as widely as possible; but their primary responsibility would necessarily be to look after the interests of their respective states. They would be in the position in which the members of the Civil Aeronautics Board would be if, instead of being appointed by the President, they were chosen and removed at will by the governors of the five states of which they are residents. They would be advocates; and, though there is nothing unrighteous about advocacy as such, there is a vast difference between it and the processes of adjudication. No international agency composed of representatives of states could be expected to bring judicial detachment to the consideration of particular cases in which large national interests were involved. The Council that is now to be created can, and I believe will, do work of immense value. For some of its purposes, the form that has been adopted would be the only one possible. The Council as a whole can hardly be expected, however, to function judicially.

Some may feel that the difference is of minor importance, but to me it seems vast and decisive, as I think anyone who has had personal experience in the field of administrative adjudication would agree. Having said as much, however, I must go on to say that in the present state of world opinion there seems no indication of a genuinely judicial international tribunal -- that is, an organ of government dissociated from direct national participation or control -- finding wide acceptance. Enthusiasts in many countries have dreamed of electing individual members to specialized tribunals regardless of nationality, by devices designed to assure the choice of men of internationally recognized competence, integrity and judicial temper. No government, however, has sponsored such proposals. The members of the World Court are so chosen, and Professor Jessup has called attention [vii] to the number of instances in which members of that bench have cast votes in particular cases against the countries of which they were citizens; but it remains an isolated example.

Such moves as have been tried in the direction of individual membership of an international aviation board have been unsympathetically received. The Canadian Government included in its original draft of an air convention a proposal that the members of the international board should be individually elected. In the revised draft produced at the conference, the original position was abandoned in favor of a provision that the members of the board "shall in all cases be appointed by the governments concerned." Similarly, the draft convention introduced at Chicago by the American delegation proposed that 6 of the 15 members of an international council should be chosen as individuals, each to represent a geographical region comprising a number of states. This, too, had a poor reception and disappeared. In private discussion, representatives of a number of countries agreed that they could name citizens of neighboring states to whom they would entrust their national interests with perfect confidence; but as representatives of governments they were not ready for such a break with tradition.


The Chicago Conference, then, failing to agree either to dispense with regulatory control altogether, or to put regulatory powers in the hands of an international authority, turned to the last of the five courses mentioned above: regulation by a self-operating formula. The Canadian Government proposed that the rôle of the regulatory board be reduced to a minimum and that any airline be granted an inalienable right to increase its operated capacity whenever, for a substantial length of time, more than 65 percent of its total available capacity had actually been occupied by revenue-paying commercial load, and that conversely it must decrease the capacity whenever the proportion remained less than 40 percent. The British delegation introduced a proposal somewhat similar in principle and including rules for determining the capacity to be allotted new services, as well as for establishing the conditions governing later changes of capacity. Both suggestions, and many subsequent alternatives and variants, underwent microscopic examination. The Canadian delegates labored with special zeal, and were tireless in their efforts to find common ground.

It would be fruitless to review the discussions in detail but their trend can be summarized. As they progressed, some of the obstacles that arose were circumvented and misunderstandings clarified by the addition of more language or the adoption of new statistical devices. But while the area of disagreement was progressively narrowed, mathematical and phraseological complexity mounted until it became alarming. To statistically-minded experts it was all perfectly clear, specific and logical, but to a lay audience, or even to the entire membership of a legislative chamber, it would have been most difficult to explain. A good principle of government is that matters in which there is large public interest should not be dealt with by devices which are beyond general public comprehension. Looking back at the Chicago discussions, that principle alone would make me doubtful whether the quest for an automatic formula could ever have led to a satisfactory solution of the problem of regulation of air transport, even if the experts had been able to agree. There would also have been substantial administrative difficulties, entailing much work for statisticians and auditors. Still another reason to doubt the feasibility of a self-regulating formula lies in the variety of conditions confronting international air transport in various parts of the world. Western Europe, Caribbean lands and coastal Africa are so different in economic conditions, climate and terrain that no single scheme of mathematical control could be devised to fit commercial operations in them all. The final British proposal was that the methods of adjudication by a commission and control by formula should be combined, the latter being applied to homeland traffic and the former to the fifth-freedom type.

One aspect of the search for a formula should have special attention, less because of its real significance than because the press made so much of it. Some British journals in particular spoke very critically of the distinction between four freedoms and five freedoms, and of the sudden broadening of the problem presented to the Conference "when the Americans introduced the fifth freedom." The introduction of the fifth freedom was in fact an attempt to include within the area of general agreement what would otherwise have had to be accomplished through bilateral discussions. It complicated the work of the Conference to the extent that any attempt to substitute a single agreement for a large number of separate arrangements always does. But the issues raised would soon have arisen in any event, since without at least some measure of the fifth freedom the operation of long airlines extending through a number of countries would in most cases be economically impossible. The fifth freedom -- to explain the terminology once again -- is the right to handle traffic which neither originates nor terminates in the airline's national territory. Without that right, an outward-bound aircraft would either have to carry a solid load of passengers and goods for a single destination or, after discharging part of its load at its first stop, would proceed with part of its normal commercial capacity unused. On the homeward trip the process would be reversed, the commercial load mounting progressively. No one would be willing to run an airline on such a basis, unless it were at government expense. If a plane had to be loaded fully for a single point, with intermediate stops used solely for refueling, trips would have to be so infrequent that economical operation would be impossible. On that basis, for example, only about one through schedule a week could be run between the United States and the Argentine.

The opportunity of obtaining some local traffic along the way is likely to be a real condition for the survival of many intercontinental through services. Under an agreement which made no provision for the fifth freedom and which was not supplemented by bilateral arrangements. United States airlines to Europe and Africa probably would have been forced to offer service only as far as the major capitals of western Europe, with transfer to local lines there. Similarly, the companies of west European nations probably would not have been able, unless aided by heavy subsidies, to extend their eastbound routes beyond India or to supply commercial service to more than one or two intermediate points between western Europe and an Indian terminus.

To be fair one must note that some European opinion would heartily approve limiting United States airline operations across Europe and Asia. It is argued that since European transatlantic airlines would not in any case be allowed to pick up traffic in New York for interior points in the United States, American lines ought not to expect to pick up traffic in Europe for points in or beyond the Continent. American opinion generally does not find the analogy acceptable, in view of the different political organization of the two continents. It seeks the right of access by air to all the independent states of the world, under conditions permitting reasonably economical operation. For this a substantial measure of fifth-freedom rights is essential.

As the Chicago discussions proceeded the impracticability of operating long lines without fifth-freedom traffic came to be generally conceded. But there remained a clear difference of opinion as to whether fifth-freedom traffic should be placed on an equal footing with traffic originating or terminating in the homeland. The American delegation held that no distinction should be made and that an airline should be free to obtain whatever traffic it could wherever its airplanes touched, in accord with the long-established custom of the sea. The British view was that the primary purpose of an airline should be to carry its own country's traffic and that other traffic should be incidental to the operation. Some concessions were made on both sides, but not enough to effect an agreement.


It may seem that I have analyzed each of the available courses to the point of destruction, but I do not think so. I have every confidence that we shall reach further accords and that they will cover all the main air routes of the world. In outlining the subject of regulation, I listed five alternatives. No one of the five is a finally closed door. All offer possibilities for further investigation; but all present obstacles and the nature of the obstacles must be plainly seen before their removal can be undertaken.

Much of the discussion of the subject since the Chicago Conference, however, has been more likely to arouse mutual suspicion and distrust than to contribute to ultimate agreement. In such an exchange of unbridled comment black easily becomes white, and white black, depending upon the point of view. A British proposal presented as a means of avoiding cutthroat competition and achieving decent order in the air has been unflatteringly called "cartelism." Conversely, proposals which their American advocates think offer the best air transportation for the whole world, and the greatest assurance that services will develop in accordance with the needs of the customers, are labelled in some transatlantic comment as "economic imperialism." There is little to be gained by exchanges on that level. Agreement is not to be found through mutual recrimination but in an honest and continued effort to understand one another's positions and problems and to discover new solutions that will approach the requirements of all parties.

The American and British positions on air transport typify two different points of view toward the postwar economy as a whole. Britain inexorably needs to export goods and to perform international services for others to cover the cost of her indispensable imports; and the handicaps she is under in returning swiftly to peaceful production after six years of dislocation and direct destruction by enemy action are continually in her mind. Americans realize their own productive strength, newly revealed in its full dimensions, and are reluctant to take even the slightest risk of hobbling it; and there is a widespread American conviction that the coming peace can introduce a period of unprecedented material progress, with universal benefit. The problem of air transport is a part of the broader question: Shall each nation's rôle in international trade be determined exclusively in a struggle for the favor of customers, or shall the full effects of competition be limited by international agreement, at any rate during a period of postwar transition and perhaps permanently?

The British are convinced that unrestricted competition in international air transport would result in extravagant operations in which each competitor would have to turn for support to its national treasury. They believe that the ill-feeling caused by the race in subsidies would handicap the coöperation of the governments for other purposes. In their thoughts, the problem of civil aviation mingles constantly with questions of security. To Britons who in the past five years have seen one-third of their homes blasted by missiles from the sky -- and to the other peoples of Europe also -- the airplane has more often seemed a curse than a boon, and they are more concerned with preventing a recurrence of present perils than with exploring the opportunities contained in air transport. British discussion takes it as almost axiomatic that, at any rate in Europe, a large measure of control of civil air operations is indispensable. The London Times, in summing up the Chicago Conference, concluded: "The international control of civil flying through the world may as yet be unattainable; but it is an urgent and patent necessity in Europe where security is an overriding consideration."[viii]

The characteristic American opinion, resulting from a different experience, is that measures of security against renewed air attack must be focused upon military aeronautics, and that international air transport is of negligible significance in that connection. In the American dream, air transport offers a bright promise of more and easier intercontinental travel, better acquainted and friendlier peoples, and higher standards of living -- to be realized in full only through the freest possible expansion. Americans admit that certain consequences of competition may be wasteful and destructive and that every effort should be made to prevent unfair competitive practices; but they also remember that contestants for home markets have been able to compete with one another vigorously and still remain on friendly terms, and they refuse to admit the probability that evil consequences will flow from competition in international air transport.

It seems to be a common belief in Britain that in the long run one or two nations which possess well-established aircraft industries and other advantages will dominate the world's air routes. Britain fears that the United States will enter the competition with so long a lead over the rest of the field as to make the contest an almost hopeless one; and there is an occasional intimation that the advantageous American position is due solely to our good fortune in being far removed from the battle fronts or the plunging V-2, and to our production of such great numbers of transport aircraft during the war.

A corresponding American view is that if a single country could win a predominant position in civil aviation in a freely competitive economy that would be only a parallel to the historic accomplishment of British shipping in a field also closely associated with national security. Indeed, the analogy is recognized in recent British comment, some of which notes with strong disapproval the American hope for "mastery of the air comparable to British mastery of the sea in the past." Many Americans who are deeply sensible of the magnitude of British losses and sacrifices during the war, and who recognize prospective British handicaps and Britain's need for measures to protect her postwar position, still think it proper to rebut some of the current British comment by reminders that in so far as the United States now leads in civil aviation, the preëminence is not merely the result of the war but is a continuation of the situation established some years before 1939. Americans likewise point out that the present predominance of the United States in the production of transport aircraft is not unconnected with the fact that, as early as 1936, an American manufacturer already had in full production a plane which is still the mainstay of the United Nations for military air transportation.

These varying opinions and points of view must be taken into account in preparation for a resumption of the tasks left uncompleted at Chicago. There is no dogmatic answer to the question whether international competition should be left free to work out its own pattern or whether some check should be laid upon it. What nation has had a consistent record of supporting either unrestricted trade or the application of a particular principle of control? There are drawbacks to limitations on competition. There are drawbacks to the absence of any restrictions. From the experience gained at Chicago we shall have to go forward pragmatically, in search of a solution which no one will find ideal but which all can accept with reasonable satisfaction. Collective ingenuity may discover a principle for universal application, and collective goodwill may win acceptance for it. Alternatively, there may be a large number of separate solutions, not identical, yet with some features in common, defining the terms of commercial association between particular pairs of nations.

[i] Up to February 20, 41 states had signed it, but only 4 have formally ratified their signatures.

[ii] In the original election Cuba's name stood in place of India's, but the senior Norwegian delegate, protesting the omission of so vast a territory, traversed by so many air routes, spontaneously arose and resigned in India's favor. The Cuban representative thereupon generously insisted upon the withdrawal of the Norwegian resignation in order that Cuba might resign instead.

[iii] The latter alternative is popularly referred to as "four-freedoms" operation.

[iv] "Capacity," in this sense, is the total capacity to transport commercial load over a given route in some convenient unit of time. It may be expressed, for example, as the product of the number of schedules operated per week multiplied by the average commercial carrying capacity of one of the aircraft of the type used.

[v] The flattering comment on the American Board is a paraphrase of what has been said by foreign observers, not the author's praise of an agency of which he happens to be a member.

[vi] The London Times, November 23, 1944.

[vii] Philip C. Jessup, "The Court as an Organ of the United Nations," FOREIGN AFFAIRS, January 1945.

[viii] London Times, December 4, 1944.

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  • EDWARD WARNER, Vice Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board; Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Aeronautics, 1926-1929; Editor of Aviation, 1929-1935
  • More By Edward P. Warner