With a certain aircraft collision making news recently, I am curious about the aviation rules of the road, particularly in international airspace.
I’m quite familiar with the Navigation Rules (Huge PDF file from USCG website), which are based on an international treaty, the 1972 Convention on the International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea (COLREGS).
Under the COLREGS, in an overtaking situation, defined as one where a vessel is approaching another from more than 22.5 degrees abaft the beam, the overtaking vessel is required to keep clear of the overtaken vessel (International Rule 13). I believe that if the air collision off of China was between two sea vessels in international waters, the Chinese fighter would be considered to be at fault, because it was approaching the US plane from the rear.
My question is what are the aviation rules of the road for a situations like this? Also, is there a compilation of the aviation rules somewhere handy?
(So as to avoid turning this into a Great Debate, I’m interested in the rules for general situations where one aircraft is following another, and perhaps what happens if one of them maneuvers unexpectedly. Speculation on fault for what actually happened off the Chinese coast should go elsewhere.)