When a US registered pilot is operating in international airspace, he is bound by both the US aviation regulations (14 CFR) and ICAO Annex 2, as required by 14 CFR 91.703. It also requires compliance with MNPS and RVSM airspace rules where appropriate.
Sec. 91.703 - Operations of civil aircraft of U.S. registry outside of the United States.
(a) Each person operating a civil aircraft of U.S. registry outside of
the United States shall--
(1) When over the high seas, comply with
annex 2 (Rules of the Air) to the Convention on International Civil
Aviation and with Secs. 91.117(c), 91.127, 91.129, and 91.131;
(2) When within a foreign country, comply with the regulations relating to
the flight and maneuver of aircraft there in force;
[(3) Except for
Sec. Sec. 91.117(a), 91.307(b), 91.309, 91.323, and 91.711, comply
with this part so far as it is not inconsistent with applicable
regulations of the foreign country where the aircraft is operated or
annex 2 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation; and]
(4) When operating within airspace designated as Minimum Navigation
Performance Specifications (MNPS) airspace, comply with Sec. 91.705.
When operating within airspace designated as Reduced Vertical
Separation Minimum (RVSM) airspace, comply with Sec. 91.706.
2 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, Ninth
Edition--July 1990, with Amendments through Amendment 32 effective
February 19, 1996, to which reference is made in this part, is
incorporated into this part and made a part hereof as provided in 5
U.S.C. Sec. 552 and pursuant to 1 CFR part 51. Annex 2 (including a
complete historic file of changes thereto) is available for public
inspection at the Rules Docket, AGC-200, Federal Aviation
Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; or
at the Office of the Federal Register, 800 North Capitol Street, NW.,
Suite 700, Washington, DC. In addition, Annex 2 may be purchased from
the International Civil Aviation Organization (Attention: Distribution
Officer), P.O. Box 400, Succursale, Place de L'Aviation
Internationale, 1000 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Another unrelated FAA document explains it in plain language:
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
ICAO is an agency of the United Nations that originated from the
signing of the Convention on International Civil Aviation in December
1944 (referred to as the Chicago Convention). This organization was
formed to promote the safe and orderly development of international
civil aviation. The Chicago Convention produced International
Standards and Recommended Practices (SARP) aimed at standardizing
international civil aviation operational practices and services.
Currently, these SARP's are contained in 18 annexes to the Chicago
Convention. In particular, Annex 2, Rules of the Air, and Annex 11,
Air Traffic Services, are pertinent to this paper as they relate to
civil aircraft operations, the establishment of airspace, and air
traffic control (ATC) services in international airspace. Although not
addressed in this paper, it should be noted that the SARP's are
augmented by various ICAO documents containing Procedures for Air
Navigation Services (PANS) that amplify the basic principles in the
SARP's. Further, to supplement the worldwide procedures contained in
the annexes and PANS, ICAO develops Regional Supplementary Procedures,
which are part of the Air Navigation Plans agreed upon to meet the
needs of specific geographical areas.
Two articles of the Chicago Convention also have a bearing on the
subject of this paper:
Exempts state-owned aircraft (which includes military aircraft) from
the provisions of Annex 11 and its Standards and Recommended
Practices. (Note: As an ICAO Contracting State, the U.S. has agreed
that its state aircraft will be operated in international airspace
with due regard for the safety of civil aircraft.)
Obligates each ICAO Contracting State to adopt measures to insure that
persons operating an aircraft within its territory shall comply with
that state's air traffic rules; or with Annex 2, Rules of the Air,
when operating over the high seas. The U.S. satisfied this
responsibility through Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)
Part 91 which requires that operators of aircraft comply with U.S.
operating rules when in the U.S., and that U.S.-registered aircraft
comply with Annex 2 when over the high seas (see section 91.703).
However, section 91.703 applies only to civil aircraft, and state
aircraft operating outside the U.S. are only subject to the "due
regard" provisions of Article 3 of the Convention.
Under ICAO agreements, the SARP's in Annex 11 apply to airspace under
the jurisdiction of a contracting state which has accepted the
responsibility of providing air traffic services over the high seas,
or in airspace of undetermined sovereignty.