The three planetary alliances (along with the EAOS) have many differing laws. The laws that they share are known informally as 'interalliance law' and cover all of known alliance space and its inhabitants. One such shared legal aspect is the civilian pilot program.
At its most basic, the civilian pilot program is a set of laws relating to how, why and when a person with a civilian pilot licence is able to do things that - for the majority of the population - would be illegal or at least ill-advised, such as operating a car-sized laser or launching massive explosive warheads at a significant fraction of the speed of light.
In order to be eligible to enter the civilian pilot program and attain a licence, certain things must be true (though this is not a conclusive list):
* The person must be 16 years old or more in order to begin learning
* The person must be 18 years old or more in order to legally sign the pilot contract
* The person must be in good physical health
* The person must be in good mental health
* The person must have no significant criminal record
* The person must be trained in spaceflight law and regulations
* The person must be trained to operate space weaponry safely (such as laser turrets and torpedo launchers - initially this would be simulator-based for safety reasons)
* The person must be able to operate a starship safely
* The person must have reached 300 recorded flight hours without incident
There are other aspects but they are unlikely to be a consideration for most players.
In general, gaining the civilian pilot licence can be thought of as similar to a combination of a commercial driving licence (USA) and a private pilot's licence (FAA/CAA) in real life.
The various alliances each have different age laws relating to consent, adulthood, and when an individual can do or use specific things. In the case of the pilot contract, interalliance law needed to be unified so while the League age of majority is 18, the Fringe is 16. To allow for this, citizens of all planetary alliances are eligible to begin training at the age of 16, but must wait until the age of 18 before actually being eligible to attain the licence itself, to allow for the legality of signing the pilot contract as an adult.
The potential civilian pilot must also visit a doctor and psychologist in order to attain certificates of good physical and mental health. Many seemingly minor physical issues may actually prevent a potential pilot from efficiently controlling their starship, while mental issues have multiple knock-on effects that could lead to problems beyond the individual.
As civilian pilots have access to vast wealth and advanced technology, as well as interact with the other alliances in ways the average citizen does not - leading to in effect the civilian pilot program often being a de facto diplomatic system between planetary alliances and also the first diplomatic action with others (such as alien species) - citizens wishing to become a civilian pilot must have a reputation in good standing; a criminal record does not suggest that a civilian pilot will uphold their end of the civilian contract, nor would they be trustworthy when interacting with others as the representatives of their respective alliance.
There is no specific curriculum and there are no academies or literal 'schools' where people take classes; instead people pay for individual lessons from licenced instructors, usually lasting between one to two hours at a time. They must also learn the necessary laws and regulations regarding atmospheric and space travel, air space laws, landing clearance and docking permission regulations, etc.
A written exam is taken when the potential pilot feels confident that they know and understand the laws and regulations, and this is the only aspect that can be explicitly 'failed' - like the written portion of a driving test, too many incorrect answers will end your ability to continue, and you must wait at least six months before you can re-take the written exam. This is usually done prior to or alongside the initial stages of flight training with an instructor. Passing this written exam gives a potential pilot a two year 'window' within which to complete all other necessary training. If the pilot contract is not signed in this timeframe, the exam must be taken again.
Once the written exam is successfully completed, it all depends on the instructor ticking off various checkboxes in their training checklist for the potential pilot. Understanding of components, ability to do pre-flight checks, correct request for launch/landing, etc. Each of these will only be ticked off when the instructor is convinced that the potential pilot is capable, not merely on the first 'success'. After all the tickboxes have been completed, the only remaining aspect before the attaining of the licence is to reach the mandatory flight hours to be considered a civilian pilot.
The standard method to attain enough flight hours is usually to book a one-to-two hour block every two weeks for approximately a year, though of course individual accounts will vary - a cadet cannot fly in too long a block in one session, and each session costs money for starship rental, landing fees, and maintenance, which is why it is usually done at least partially in combination with actual training - though training will usually be complete long before the flight hours have been reached, and the initial flights during training will not be eligible due to unskilled use of the starship. Flight hours cannot be accumulated without having taken and passed the written exam on spaceflight laws and regulations.
CONTENTS OF THE CONTRACT
A potential civilian pilot, once they have completed their training (and if all other elements are considered acceptable) will have the option of signing various forms of pilot contract:
* CIVILIAN PILOT CONTRACT - The licence for a freelancer civilian as part of the civilian pilot program.
* CORPORATE/MERCHANT PILOT CONTRACT - The licence for working exclusively for a specific corporation as a merchant transport or passenger pilot.
* GOVERNMENT PILOT CONTRACT - The licence for government-mandated flights that do not fall under the civilian pilot program or the navy.
While the training undertaken in order to attain a civilian pilot's licence will aid someone if they choose to enlist in the alliance navy, it gives no hard benefit and there is no 'contract' as with the other options - joining the navy is a very different category.
The only way to gain a civilian pilot licence is by signing the civilian pilot contract. All trainees or cadets are free to defer or reject the basic civilian pilot contract (perhaps in order to take on a corporate or government contract as mentioned above) but any deferment can only last up to two years without some form of contract being signed. If no contract has been signed after the deferment period ends, a potential pilot will need to re-take the written laws and regulation exam and have an instructor re-confirm their skillset.
In-game, the playerbase consists only of pilots who have signed the civilian pilot contract. We have no plans to add in purely corporate or government pilot options at the present time.
The text of the pilot contract is freely available, but it is a legal document that was drafted by interalliance lawyers during the creation of the unified civilian pilot program and as such is filled with legalese and is not an easy read. The governments of the planetary alliances have responded to this in different ways.
The AEU offers no 'normal language' documentation or any service to assist in understanding the pilot contract, having ended this option after the removal from office of President Christopher Sheffield - the expectation today is that any AEU citizen who plans to sign the contract should be able to afford a lawyer to interpret the document for them.
The League offers a 'normal language' pamphlet that gives the basic run-down of the contents of the pilot contract, as well as a free 'limited discussion' service where potential civilian pilots can meet with a member of the civilian pilot program liaison branch office on their respective homeworld in order to talk about the finer points of the contract itself. This gives a good basic grounding and understanding of the contents of the contract, but may not give reasoning behind many of the regulations. As with the AEU, League citizens are able to pay for a lawyer from their own pocket to explain the intricacies of the pilot contract in more detail, but this is rare due to the liaison roundtable option.
Prior to the military coup the Fringe offered a service similar to the League, though nowhere near as thorough. Post-coup, the military have taken control of the liaison office and as such civilian pilots discuss the pilot contract with them. This has often been seen as a conflict of interests by the other planetary alliances and the EAOS, with a significant number of potential civilian pilots choosing instead to enlist in the Fringe navy - but no change seems likely. However, the Fringe military do give basic details on the contents of the pilot contract and do not appear to mislead potential civilian pilots, merely attempt to guide them to a more 'patriotic' option.
* Section A of the pilot contract lays out the requirements relating to eligibility for civilian pilothood, as stated in the previous section above.
* Sections B and C cover various potential industrial tasks a civilian pilot is expected to be competent in the execution of in order to benefit their respective alliance - from salvaging useful debris to asteroid hauling to mining. As new industrial tasks emerge thanks to technological advancement and other discoveries, these sections are amended and civilian pilots must sign addendum documents to confirm understanding of the new addition(s) to the pilot contract.
* Section D covers alliance government subsidies of various technologies, related devices, and other aspects of civilian pilot work - such as starships, upgrades, and alliance research.
* Section E covers hostility and conflict resolution between alliances, specifically what civilian pilots are legally expected and not legally able to do during times of interalliance war or heightened tension. For instance, by signing the pilot contract, a potential pilot is agreeing to actively wage war on naval and civilian forces that are part of an alliance that has declared war on their own, while they are also agreeing they will not cause planetary devastation by atmospheric assault. An addendum involving drop pods and battlesuits was included after their redeployment.
- Section E-c.1 specifically covers corporate and courier conflict and the legal result of any cross-alliance (or internal alliance) conflict involving courier or merchant work. This is one of the first major 'legalese' sections, requiring legal knowledge in order to properly untangle.
* Section F covers hostility and conflict resolution between the potential pilot's alliance and non-alliance factions such as pirates. In simplified language, pirates are usually considered 'alliance entities' under most law, this section simply expands on suitable response to pirate activity, whether it be from members of their own alliance or from another alliance. In general, the spirit of the pilot contract states that pirates must be stopped even if they do not appear to be actively engaging in anti-alliance activity, but the letter of the contract only states that anti-alliance activity from a pirate must be met with force.
* Section G covers hostility and conflict resolution between the potential pilot's alliance and non-alliance factions such as unregistered persons. See below.
* Section H covers interaction (hostile and non-hostile) between the potential pilot's alliance and non-human factions such as alien species. In general, this section only details how to act during a First Contact scenario (basically 'do not antagonise potential alien allies' and 'attempt to learn about them') but since the encounters with the Jinu, Outsiders, IFS, Children of the Sun, Testudinidae, and rift entities such as Euclid, there are multiple addendums involving each of them and specific situations involving various scenarios. In general, this section of the contract boils down to 'unless the alien species is actively at war with our alliance, do not initiate combat, but if we are at war feel free to strike first'. There is no specific addendum regarding communication with hostile aliens, but this section does suggest being cautious with information being passed to entities hostile to the potential pilot's alliance.
* Sections I, J, and K cover the Centauri Seven Accords - these sections are large and contain the most 'legalese' of the entire contract.
- Section I covers the nature of civilian pilot wealth accumulation and the creation of a 'pilot economy' to ensure the sanctity and safety of the alliance economies, including how tax rates and exchange rates are dealt with on a per-alliance basis.
- Section J covers interaction and limitation between the pilot economy and general alliance economies, including how much credit can be safely transferred into non-pilot accounts over how long, regulations about pilot retirement and the investment of pilot wealth into specialised trust funds for slow lifetime release via stipend, and how an active pilot can request the release of funding to the general alliance economy for a specific purpose or a retired pilot can request additional access to their pilot wealth beyond the normal stipend in order to purchase or invest in non-pilot activities.
- Section K covers legislation relating to limitation of pilot movement, specifying which areas are 'pilot accessible' (such as spaceports, space stations, etc) which areas are considered 'semi-accessible' (such as cities like Landfall and Ixtapa) and areas which are completely inaccessible to civilian pilots (such as the majority of normal towns and cities on a planet).
* Section L covers civilian pilot travel to locations outside those specified in Section K, like unknown space stations or alien environs. In effect, this section describes how a potential pilot is, under specific circumstances, treated as a diplomatic envoy and is expected to act accordingly.
* Section M covers the Mutuality and the Grand Amnesty. It mentions how members of the Mutuality are part of a unique organisational entity with alliance-like traits and are not, by the technical definition of the law, covered by the unreg bounty even though they are unregistered individuals under the umbrella term of an alliance-like organisational entity. In addition, it clarifies some elements of interalliance law surrounding the still-active unreg bounty laws - stating that while they are still in effect, any unregistered person who became unregistered prior to the date 21st August 2304 is considered ineligible for the bounty under the Grand Amnesty.
* Section N covers the Outsiders post-Subjugation, giving them a separate label to other alien species and clarifying that potential pilots agree to engage them in combat if encountered in beaconed space. There is also the provision that potential pilots agree to engage Outsider forces in combat if encountered in non-beaconed space, but this has a clarifier that it only applies if there is a realistic chance of victory and retreat would cause greater danger to humanity. A post-Resistance addendum includes the provision that as the Outsiders now want the total extinction of humanity they cannot in any way be negotiated with, copying interalliance law which states that any human found to be attempting diplomacy with Outsiders is guilty of treason and will be charged without trial under military law.
SIDE NOTE: THE UNREG PROBLEM
Section G of the pilot contract is long and detailed, with quite a significant connection to interalliance law on unregistered persons. Since the Subjugation and Resistance, many interalliance laws relating to unregistered entities have been altered, rewritten, or struck down - but not all. With the Grand Amnesty and retitling of the Sovereign Mutuality of Disparate Freemen from 'unregistered faction' to 'alliance-like entity' and giving it legal status as an alliance without it being the same as the planetary alliances, much interalliance law relating to unregs has become either murky, irrelevant, or contradictory.
Large subsections of Section G no longer exist - there are several blank or mostly blank pages where subsections and paragraphs used to be that defined proper civilian pilot reaction and response to various unregistered entity actions or activities.
Some subsections still exist, but the laws they refer to have been amended and now make these subsections of the pilot contract sound like nonsense.
Other subsections still exist, with the laws they reference also existing in their original state, but due to interaction with other laws it becomes a legal tangle which law takes precedence and whether these subsections are still applicable and whether a civilian pilot still falls under their remit or is legally obliged to obey them.
Many civilian pilots who flew prior to the Subjugation found this shift incredibly difficult following the Grand Amnesty - after signing a contract that required them to respond to unregs in a specific way, they were now being punished for doing so - but not always, not for the same thing, and not with the same severity. In response, many pre-Subjugation civilian pilots chose to retire before they had their licences revoked, or otherwise wanted to get away from such a confusing state of affairs.
The addition of Section M helped clarify some portions of the previous confusion, but added further complications. By the literal interpretation of the Grand Amnesty, people who 'went unreg' prior to the amnesty (regardless of what they did beforehand) were now no longer considered covered by the unreg bounty or any other laws relating to 'going unreg'. However, children of unregistered persons who were born after 21st August 2304 are not covered by the Amnesty as it is written - does this mean civilian pilots must capture and bring unreg children back to their alliances for punishment? A literal and technical interpretation of the pilot contract would say yes, while the spirit of the interpretation would say it was an unintentional oversight.
SIGNING THE CONTRACT
So a potential pilot has read up on the civilian pilot contract, they've spoken to the League Liaison office, their personal AEU lawyer, or the Fringe military to get enough details, or they've just said 'screw it I don't need to know this', and are ready to sign the contract and get their licence.
Signing the contract must be done at a registered government location, with the potential pilot providing ID and evidence that they have passed the laws and regulations exam and showing their instructor-ticked pilot skillset document which confirms their knowledge and flight hours. Once signed, the potential pilot will have to wait approximately two-to-four weeks for background checks, legal changes to their status (including their credit account being flagged as owned by a pilot and the initial pilot loan being granted to them) and putting their affairs in order before they are limited from general access to their previous home.
After this time they will be contacted and informed that their licence documentation is ready to be picked up at the same local government office, being held there for up to three months before being sent back to the main liaison office for security reasons if it is not collected before then. Once the new pilot has collected their licence documentation and dressed in the regulation plain gray shipsuit, they will be taken to the liaison office within the spaceport on their capital world, where they will be greeted by a liaison officer and be free to begin their civilian pilot career.