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Aviation and Airlines

Overview

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.

Industry insight

Historically, the central United States played an essential role in the aviation industry.  Today, this tradition continues: main-line commercial carriers, charter 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.

Acquisitions and 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 in connection with aircraft and engine acquisitions and financings, including:

  • Drafting and negotiating aircraft and engine purchase and sale agreements
  • Negotiating financing arrangements for acquisitions and ongoing operations
  • Pre-closing due diligence
  • Risk management advice
  • Closing logistics

Airline operations

Conner & Winters attorneys provide advice to aviation clients on a broad spectrum of matters arising in the course of ongoing operations.  Our capabilities in this area include drafting, negotiation and/or advice regarding a variety of matters, including:

  • Aircraft and engine lease arrangements
  • ACMI (wet lease) arrangements, including agreements with foreign airlines
  • Aircraft charter arrangements (both short-term and long-term)
  • Aircraft conversion agreements
  • Maintenance agreements
  • Risk management
  • Contractor team arrangements with the U.S. government (including CRAF)
  • Regulatory compliance matters, including matters with the FAA and NTSB

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.

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 and incidents in both federal and state courts.  Our lawyers have represented pilots and other airmen in administrative matters with the FAA and NTSB arising out of Letters of Investigation, Notices of Proposed Civil Penalty and Notices of Certificate Actions.

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 (referred to as 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.

Labor and employment

The firm’s labor and employment practice attorneys advise aviation industry clients on a regular basis.  Our capabilities in this area include:

  • Protection of trade secrets and other proprietary information
  • Railway Labor Act matters that govern Part 121 air carriers and their unions
  • Advice regarding union organizing efforts
  • Union contract negotiations
  • Defense against allegations and/or charges of discrimination, harassment, retaliation and unfair labor practices
  • Arbitration of grievances
  • Advice regarding day to day personnel actions

Providing comprehensive legal services

Our attorneys combine training and experience in various areas of the law with intricate knowledge of the regulatory and business challenges that our aviation and airline industry clients face.  Our aviation and airline attorneys are either experts in or work closely with attorneys who are experts in a number of practices areas, including banking and finance, corporate and securities, employee benefits, environmental, insurance, labor and employment, litigation, real estate, and tax.

Learn more about our capabilities in the aviation and airline industry by contacting one of the attorneys listed on the right.

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