Aviation and Airlines
Conner & Winters provides sophisticated and experienced legal representation in the dynamic and competitive aviation industry. Detailed regulatory requirements and procedures, along with unpredictable economics and frequent developments concerning ownership and operational issues combine to command the services of experienced counsel. Conner & Winters has long been devoted to maintaining the breadth of professional legal talent necessary to service clients in many aspects of this complex industry.
Providing industry insight
Historically, the central United States played an essential role in the aviation industry. Today, this tradition continues: main-line commercial carriers, industrial carriers, personal owners, and maintenance facilities, as well as specialty companies such as helicopter manufacturers are very active in the region. Through our work with regional companies, as well as with national companies with regional operations, our firm has developed an international practice with substantial experience in key aspects of aviation law.
Negotiating financial transactions
The firm has worked with owners of private and commercial aircraft, equity investors, lenders and FAA certified Part 121 and 135 commercial air carriers. Particularized experience in achieving successful financial results includes:
- Dry and capital leases
- ACMI agreements
- Documentation and regulatory recordation
- Pre-closing due diligence
- Assignments, assumptions and amendments of in-place agreements
- Closing logistics including minimizing tax implications
- Placement of excess large aircraft turbine engines on lease outside the United States
- Analysis of securitization and filing requirements
Providing regulatory guidance
Aviation companies face significant operational challenges that call for counsel experienced in handling regulatory compliance matters with the FAA and NTSB. Conner & Winters lawyers in the aviation practice area have this experience. As an example of the depth of our experience, our attorneys developed a comprehensive “get well” plan for a client following a clients’ voluntary suspension of its services, which enabled the client to secure FAA permission to return to service.
Assisting with acquisitions
The firm represents individuals and companies in acquiring fractional interests in executive aircraft operated under FAA Part 91, subpart K. Our representation has included reviewing and providing advice on the purchase agreement, management agreement, owner’s agreement and dry lease exchange agreement. Our aviation lawyers have additional experience in:
- Risk management
- Waiver of subrogation
- Breach of warranties
- Early termination
Growing airport operations
Conner & Winters has represented airport Fixed Base Operators (FBOs) in negotiating long term, investment-friendly ground leases with municipalities. The firm can assist in working with FBOs to develop construction plans and contracts followed by standardized leases for use with tenants. Additionally, our lawyers have experience drafting specialty contracts for above ground fuel storage facilities and self service fuel systems. We provide counseling to interested parties regarding rights to operate at federally funded airports and the complaint process under FAA Part 16 to assure non-discriminatory access.
Guiding investigations and litigation
The firm represents pilots, aircraft owners, repair stations and product manufacturers in investigations and the follow-on litigation arising out of aircraft and helicopter accidents in both federal and state courts. Our lawyers have represented pilots and other airmen, e.g., airframe and power plant mechanics, in administrative matters with the FAA and NTSB arising out of Letters of Investigation, Notices of Proposed Civil Penalty and Notices of Certificate Actions. These matters include alleged pilot deviations from flight plan, alleged careless and reckless operation of an aircraft, alleged violation of alcohol and drug policies, alleged failure to accomplish mechanical work properly and alleged failure to properly complete log book entries. In addition to assisting with investigations and administrative matters, Conner & Winters provides comprehensive representation in litigation matters, from laying the groundwork through trial and appeal.
Shielding clients involved in bankruptcy
The firm’s certified bankruptcy specialists have represented clients who were secured and unsecured creditors in airline bankruptcies and have achieved successful results under Section 1110 of the Bankruptcy Code.
Counseling and litigating in the whistleblower arena
Like many other highly regulated industries, the aviation industry is subject to specific federal laws that prohibit retaliation against employees. Air carriers and other industry participants may not retaliate against employees who report safety concerns, i.e., so-called whistleblowers. An employee who believes he was retaliated against may pursue civil litigation against his employer. In addition, the FAA maintains its own whistleblower protection program. Our attorneys are among the most experienced in the nation in representing aviation industry employers in whistleblower matters, including regulatory matters, litigation, counseling, investigation and training.
Representing the aviation industry in labor and employment
The firm’s labor and employment practice attorneys advise aviation industry clients on a regular basis. For example, protection of trade secrets and other proprietary information is critical in this highly competitive business segment. Our attorneys react promptly when a client’s business is jeopardized by the unlawful conduct of current or former employees. The firm advises clients on Railway Labor Act matters that govern Part 121 air carriers and their unions. The firm’s harmony of legal acumen and industry experience delivers comprehensive labor and employment services. Our attorneys advise aviation industry participants in the areas of employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation; union organization efforts; negotiations of contracts; unfair labor practice charges; arbitration of grievances and labor disputes; and occupational safety and health.