An Aviation Law attorney provides counsel and planning in all segments of the aviation industry. The attorneys in this practice area focus their practice on flight, air travel, associated legal and business concerns, the operation of aircraft, and the maintenance of aviation facilities. This highly specialized field requires a comprehensive knowledge of FAA regulations, specific laws regarding flight, and an in-depth understanding of aviation.
Throughout history, Congress has enacted several federal laws pertaining to air navigation. Congress passed the Federal Aviation Act in 1958, establishing the Federal Aviation Administration. Since then, several subsequent federal acts, including the Airport and Airway Development Act of 1970 and the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, have further regulated aviation.
In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Congress enacted the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001, which established a Transportation Security Administration in the Department of Transportation (TSA). The TSA now resides in the Department of Homeland Security.
While state governments have created administrative agencies and enacted statutes and regulations in effort to regulate air traffic, register aircraft, and regulate pilots, aviation is, for the most part, governed by federal law. Accordingly, states are prohibited from regulating rates, routes, or services of any air carrier authorized under the Federal Aviation Act to provide interstate air transportation. States are not prohibited, however, from enacting their own laws consistent with federal laws, or from altering existing remedies under state law. Additionally, Federal law does not preempt state products liability law, and in many defective product cases, aviation manufacturers may be held strictly liable.
Aviation attorneys must be prepared to represent airmen and operators and provide solutions and legal advice in areas including:
- Advising airport authorities and airport operators
- Aircraft Accidents and incidents
- Aircraft use policies to cover personal use, carriage of political candidates, SEC reporting, and related matters
- Airman enforcement matters
- Airmen medial matters
- Compliance issues with existing federal and state laws
- Maintenance and airworthiness issues
- FAA matters
- FAA legal interpretations and FAR interpretations
- Insurance coverage and risk management
- Part 91 Operations
- Part 135 Operations, Certification, and training issues
- Personal use of company aircraft, and related income recognition, deduction limitation, and SEC disclosure issues
- Purchasing, selling, and leasing fractional shares of aircraft
- Repair station issues
- Security Plan Preparation and Review and Security related issues
- State tax matters and audits regarding sales and use tax, and county property tax
- Tax aspects of buying, selling, and financing aircraft, like kind exchanges and state sales and use tax planning
- TSA compliance issues
The practice of Aviation law also can include representation at both the federal and state court levels on behalf of persons who are suffering from loss or injury due to an aircraft tragedy.