Pursuant to The Hague Convention, Federal law prohibits the seizure, by force or violence, of any aircraft within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, interference with flight crew members while aboard such aircraft, the carrying of concealed weapons or explosives aboard such aircraft, and the commission of certain crimes, including murder (18 U.S.C. § 1111), manslaughter (18 U.S.C. § 1112), maiming (18 U.S.C. § 114), sexual abuse (18 U.S.C. §§ 2241-43), assault (18 U.S.C. § 113) and robbery (18 U.S.C. § 2111), while aboard such aircraft. The Act also empowers the United States to prosecute aircraft piracy committed against a foreign civil aircraft which is outside the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States if the foreign civil aircraft was in flight at the time of its hijacking and if the hijacker is subsequently found in the United States after the air piracy or, effective as of April 24, 1996, a national of the United States was aboard such aircraft or a national of the United States was a perpetrator of the offense. The aircraft piracy statute authorizes the Government to seek the death penalty if the death of another person results from the aircraft piracy. See JM 9-63.100, et seq. The definition of "special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States" is found at 49 U.S.C. § 46501(2). To be within the "special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States" the aircraft must be "in flight." Among the aircraft covered are all United States civilian and military aircraft (anywhere in the world as long as they are "in flight"), foreign aircraft within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and certain foreign civil aircraft that land in the United States after certain crimes have been committed aboard the aircraft while it was in flight outside of the United States.
Updated September 19, 2018