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Criminal Resource Manual

673. Aircraft Jurisdiction

The "enclave statutes" are made applicable by 18 U.S.C. §  7(5) to U.S. aircraft in flight over the high seas or other waters within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States and out of the jurisdiction of any particular state. This section was enacted in reaction to United States v. Cordova, 89 F. Supp. 298 (E.D.N.Y. 1950), which held that an aircraft was not a "vessel," and that "over high seas" was not the equivalent of "on the high seas," within the meaning of the extant version of 18 U.S.C. § 7(1). Venue in § 7(5) aircraft jurisdiction is governed by 18 U.S.C. § 3238.

It is important to note that many of the "enclave statutes" are made applicable to "aircraft within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States," by 49 U.S.C. § 46506, and that "special aircraft jurisdiction," as defined in 49 U.S.C. § 46501(2), differs significantly from the jurisdiction defined in 18 U.S.C. § 7(5). Venue is governed by the venue provisions of Title 18: 18 U.S.C. §§ 3237 and 3238, and Rule 18, Fed. R. Crim. P. The discussions of 49 U.S.C. §  1473(a), the former Title 49 venue provision (since repealed), in United States v. Busic, 549 F.2d 252 (2d Cir. 1977), and United States v. Hall, 691 F.2d 48 (1st Cir. 1982), remain relevant to this issue. For a discussion of "special aircraft jurisdiction," see the Criminal Resource Manual at 1405. For a discussion of venue in Title 49 aircraft crimes, see the Criminal Resource Manual at 1406.

[updated August 1999] [cited in Criminal Resource Manual 1405; USAM 9-20.100]