Aviation

Practice Area

Aviation

Lewis Brisbois’s Aviation Defense Team and Business Aviation Practice are recognized worldwide as leaders in aviation law. There is no “one size fits all” or “off the shelf” solution in the rapidly changing world of aviation rules and regulations. The financial, operational and reputational risks of improper planning will likely result in a lasting negative impact on unaware clients. With decades of experience, the aviation legal team has the global capabilities to meet client needs.

Aviation Defense Team

Aviation law cases require high-level knowledge in many aspects of aviation, not solely legal knowledge. The Aviation Defense Team produces cost-effective results for clients, given their knowledge of the subject matter and sophisticated skills at developing aviation-related cases. Lewis Brisbois provides aviation and transportation clients nationwide with the kind of skilled representation that comes from an in-depth comprehension of the specific legal issues facing the industry.

Our national team is composed of veteran attorneys who represent leading domestic and international commercial airlines, aviation product manufacturers, owners and operators of private aircraft entities that maintain and repair such aircraft, and their insurers in all matters of aviation law and litigation. Our team is truly interdisciplinary and includes professionals – from attorneys with years of experience in a variety of practice areas to a former aircraft hydraulic fuel control technician. Our attorneys understand the aviation industry from an insider’s perspective as many are experienced pilots, and one of the firm’s aviation attorneys is an active pilot for a major airline, having flown narrowbody and widebody aircraft on domestic as well as international routes. We have both the professional and personal experience to assist our aviation clients at accident sites shortly after accidents occur. We have litigated many complex and sophisticated aviation-related cases and consistently achieve favorable and quantifiable results for our clients, even when confronted with the most difficult circumstances and severe time constraints. Our professional, knowledgeable team of attorneys has the experience and reputation to provide effective representation in a wide range of aviation defense matters, including property damage claims, aviation accidents, insurance coverage disputes, and other civil or certificate actions. We are familiar with the litigation trends, state and federal regulatory requirements, and market realities our clients confront on a daily basis.

Aviation Litigation Discovery

Lewis Brisbois offers clients the experience and depth necessary to help individuals and businesses involved in aviation litigation navigate all aspects of modern discovery. We ensure our clients have access to a strategically-leveraged combination of skilled discovery professionals, secure processes, and cutting-edge technologies. By utilizing project teams to offer cost-effective, tailored approaches to each client, the discovery professionals of Lewis Brisbois create world-class, custom solutions for projects of all sizes.

Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Our litigation experience includes: 

  • Defending domestic and international commercial airlines as well as aircraft manufacturers and insurers in tort litigation arising from disasters involving property damage, wrongful death, and personal injury claims
  • Representing owners and insurers of private aircraft in litigation involving property damage, wrongful death, and personal injury claims
  • Representing aircraft manufacturers in product liability and property damage claims
  • Representing aviation insurance carriers in insurance coverage and subrogation litigation
  • Defending pilots, their estates, FBOs, and flight school owners and operators in wrongful death and personal injury claims
  • Representing aircraft manufacturers in commercial contract and unfair trade practices disputes
  • Representing commercial airlines in professional liability, discrimination, lost baggage, and denied
  • boarding litigation
  • Representing airlines in Federal Aviation Administration investigations
  • Representing unmanned aircraft systems manufacturers and operators in aircraft certification, regulatory guidance, operation guidelines, transactional matters, risk management, intellectual property, technology, insurance, and litigation matters
  • Patent prosecution and interference claims pertaining to various aviation-related technologies
  • Representation of a global airline in litigation arising from the September 11, 2011 terror attacks
  • Extensive experience in litigating passenger and cargo claims arising under the Montreal and
  • Warsaw Conventions
  • Successful resolution of passenger removal and discrimination claims against air carriers
  • Representing air carriers in denied boarding and baggage loss matters
  • Experience in the regulatory environment governing commercial air carriers in the United States, including FAR Parts 91, 121 and 135 
  • Whether they are managing discovery, coordinating trials, negotiating settlements, or litigating individual cases, our attorneys are focused on protecting our aviation clients’ business interests.

Compliance

Lewis Brisbois’ attorneys offer the depth and breadth of experience to ensure our aviation clients receive the most effective guidance in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation regulations.

Client Commitment

To maintain awareness of changes and trends in laws effecting the aviation industry, our attorneys remain active in aviation industry organizations and associations to provide the most comprehensive services to our clients.

BUSINESS AVIATION PRACTICE

Business aviation is critical to the success of tens of thousands of companies that are competing in a constantly evolving global marketplace. Business leaders require efficiency in every aspect of the workday and cannot afford to lose precious time with complicated transportation itineraries. In the United States currently, only 500 of the over 5,000 public airports have commercial airline service, and this barrier can unnecessarily impede the ability to conduct valuable face-to-face business meetings.

Lewis Brisbois’ experienced Business Aviation Practice serves as a strategic client partner with a comprehensive understanding of the federal regulatory and business matters surrounding the financing, acquisition, and operation of business aircraft. From structuring complex transactions, including drafting and negotiating corporate aircraft purchase and sale agreements, to understanding the intricacies of aircraft financing agreements and reducing liability exposure while capitalizing on both federal and state tax planning options, our attorneys collaborate closely with clients to provide elite advisory services and support regarding a wide-range of business aviation issues.

Domestic & International Aircraft Matters

Lewis Brisbois’ attorneys have experience representing both domestic and international clients in aviation matters. With a practice area solely focused on handling aviation clients, the firm’s dedicated resources are well positioned to address cross-border transactions. We have experience with closing aircraft transactions involving a variety of international regions including: Asia, the European Union, the Middle East, Russia and the former Soviet Union, South Africa, and South America. We have experience with assisting with the growth of small- and medium-sized businesses to leading multinational corporations and ultra-high-net-worth individuals. Lewis Brisbois handles all matters including but not limited to, drafting and negotiating corporate aircraft purchase and sale agreements, aircraft management agreements, fractional ownership agreements, and a multitude of lease agreements. Finally, our team possesses the level of expertise necessary to handle all federal, state, and property tax, value-added taxes (VAT taxes), and related issues for clients facing aggressive domestic and international taxing authorities.

Aircraft Purchases & Sales

Whether a client is contemplating the purchase or sale of a new or used aircraft, fractional aircraft interest, or investigating creative leasing options, we will expertly administer all transactions to maximize client benefits with the most favorable terms available in the aircraft industry. We have successfully closed aircraft purchases and sales of all major manufacturers including: Gulfstream, Bombardier, Dassault and Cessna products in FAA Part 91 and 135 complaint structures. Additionally, our aviation attorneys have negotiated a variety of fractional interest agreements and aircraft management agreements for both Fortune 100 companies and family-owned flight departments. Finally, we have extensive industry contacts that will assist in creating a comprehensive team of reputable aircraft lenders, aircraft technical advisors, Section 1031 exchange title holders, aircraft trustees, insurance brokers, and escrow agents to manage all aspects of the transaction in a complete yet cost-effective manner. With Lewis Brisbois, so long as the transaction remains in the client’s best interest, the client is assured that the transaction will be guided expeditiously to a successful closing.

Tax Matters

The failure to engage experienced aviation tax counsel in an aircraft transaction can result in multi-million dollar federal and state tax liabilities or international tax liabilities including the assessment of value-added taxes (VAT taxes). Incorrect structuring or a misunderstanding of federal tax law can lead to a complete disallowance of otherwise entitled federal tax deductions. We have defended clients before the Internal Revenue Service regarding sophisticated attacks to the eligibility of business deductions including passive activity, hobby loss, business entertainment, and personal use challenges. Additionally, Lewis Brisbois’ team possesses expert knowledge of sales and use taxes on a state-by-state basis and is also well versed in personal property tax challenges. We will confirm that all current and valid exemptions are discussed and properly implemented for the client at the closing of the transaction.

Chairs