Transport: aviation and air travel - litigation and regulation in United States

Arnold & Porter

Arnold & Porter has an established reputation as the go-to firm for complex and highly publicized air crash investigations and accidents, a recent example of which was the team's representation of long-time client Airbus in litigation in the US, France and Brazil resulting from the crash of TAM Linhas Aereas Flight 3054. This kind of high-profile and international work is illustrative of the team's core strengths in headline mass torts and commercial disputes, as well as in international arbitration. Kenneth Chernof and James Herschlein co-chair the department from the Washington DC office, alongside 'world-class litigators' Thad Dameris and Christopher Odell in the Houston office. David Weiner in Washington DC is another key litigator. Amanda Thomson is a rising star in the practice group, regularly working alongside Dameris and Odell in sensitive aviation litigation.


‘Thad Dameris and Christopher Odell in Houston are both world-class litigators’ 

Key clients

Airbus Group

Airbus Americas

Airbus Military & Space

Airbus Ventures Equity Partner

Work highlights

  • Represented Airbus in litigation before US, French, and Brazilian courts and in international arbitration arising from the crash of TAM Linhas Aereas Flight 3054.
  • Defending Airbus against over 100 claims in a class action and related opt-out actions pending in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada) relating to the crash landing of an Air Canada A320 aircraft.
  • Acted for Airbus Helicopters in a lawsuit filed in state court in Texas by a helicopter leasing company, ERA, alleging fraudulent inducement and breach of contract in relation to its purchase of 10 Super Puma helicopters.
  • Representing Airbus and its affiliates in litigation filed in state court in Los Angeles County, California by representatives of passengers killed in the May, 2016 crash of EgyptAir Flight 804.

Condon & Forsyth LLP

Condon & Forsyth LLP's top-class airline defense practice represents many of the industry’s largest global carriers, such as Aeroflot and Iberia Airlines in aviation accident litigation and investigations. The New York office is the hub of the practice and home to several of the team's key litigators in this space: Bartholomew BaninoAnthony BattistaJohn Maggio and Christopher Christensen. The group is rated for its broad-based expertise in issues facing commercial and freight air carriers, including mass air disasters, wrongful death and personal injury, product liability, cargo damages, general business disputes and regulatory enforcement. Moreover, the team also has experience defending military aircraft and helicopter manufactures in matters arising from aviation accidents. A contact on the West Coast is Scott Cunningham in Los Angeles, who focuses on counseling aerospace insurers, airlines and manufacturers in cases involving wrongful death and personal injury. Allison Surcouf is also recommended in the New York office.

Key clients

Advent Aircraft Systems

Aer Lingus



Air Charter Service

Air Lease Corporation


Air Asia

Work highlights

  • Represented Air Lease Corporation, a leading global commercial aircraft lessor, in connection with a breach of contract litigation against Far Eastern Air Transport Corp., a Taiwanese air carrier, in the US District Court for the Central District of California.
  • Represent Aeroflot as US counsel in defense of claims arising out of an accident at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, Russia involving Aeroflot Flight 1492.
  • Continuing to defend Kalitta against claims arising from a Dynamic International Airways engine fire at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on 29 October 2015 resulting in 80 alleged passenger injuries.
  • Acting for Lufthansa against the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) in a suit filed against the District Court for the District of Massachusetts for damages sustained when a Lufthansa Boeing 747 aircraft struck a snowbank while taxiing prior to take-off at Logan International Airport, resulting in substantial damage.
  • Representing KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in dispute with Centurion Cargo over $15m in debts arising from maintenance and engine contracts and counterclaims for millions of dollars in damages relating to alleged warranty claims by Centurion.

Cozen O'Connor

Cozen O'Connor's 'highly efficient and knowledgeable' team is jointly led by David Heffernan and Mark Atwood, who advise on a myriad of aviation-related regulatory licensing and compliance issues, ranging from safety regulation (FAA) and security regulation (TSA, CBP), to competition and consumer protection regulation. On the transactional side, the team acts for private equity funds and other investors in the acquisition of air carriers and other aviation companies, and also advises on trade implications of US and international sanctions. The team has also been joined by Jonathan Echmalian, who has over 25 years of aviation regulatory experience, in May from Hogan Lovells US LLP.


‘Highly efficient, knowledgeable and quick in advising on the various aspects of international aviation, including domestic U.S. issues and worldwide operation.’

Key clients

Airlines For America (U.S. airline trade association)

Alaska Airlines

Lufthansa Group

American Airlines

Emirates Group

Air Atlanta Icelandic

Work highlights

  • Advising Airlines for America and International Air Transport Association on the Trump administration’s regulatory reform initiative, which is a review of federal regulations for potential reduction or elimination.
  • Assisting Alaska Airline on various airline alliance issues, including preparation of comments on applications for immunity from US antitrust laws for airline alliances.
  • Representing Lufthansa Group in a dispute between the US government and the EU regarding wet lease arrangements.
  • Advising Sky Palace Airways, a new start-up passenger airline, on the company’s capital structure in light of US citizenship requirements and DOT certification requirements.
  • Advising Airstrike Firefighters on US aeronautical requirements, including assistance in obtaining State Department clearance for the export of military firefighting aircraft to combat fires in South America and Australia.

Hogan Lovells US LLP

Hogan Lovells US LLP has 'unmatched subject matter expertise' in the aviation space, where it advises leading airlines on regulatory compliance, enforcement and market-shaping policy matters. The team is also actively involved in developing the regulatory and policy landscape in the fast-growing drones industry. Key figures in the team include Robert Cohn, who chairs global aviation practice group, and Lisa Ellman, a 'tremendous asset' to the team and a market leader in the the area of UAV law and policy. Counsel Patrick Rizzi advises clients on international route rights, antitrust issues in the context of aviation sector- alliances, government investigations, airport privatization and aviation-related transactions and ownership changes. Senior associate Matthew Clark is also recommended. Named lawyers are based in Washington DC.

Practice head(s):

Robert Cohn


‘I have been incredibly impressed with the depth of aviation expertise within the HL team, especially under the guidance of Lisa Ellman. I have been very impressed with the depth of understanding of the policymaking process within FAA and other agencies, and the proactive nature of the HL team in tracking policymaking. The unique backgrounds of the HL partners like Lisa Ellman make the HL standout as very valuable to their clients.’

‘Unmatched subject matter expertise.’

‘Lisa Ellman stands out as a tremendous asset for HL. Matt Clark is also very knowledgeable and responsive.’

Key clients

Delta Air Lines

WestJet Airlines

Wexford Capital

Aerion Corporation

Commercial Drone Alliance

Work highlights

  • Advised WestJet Airlines on negotiations of a joint venture agreement with Delta Air Lines, and now jointly representing both WestJet and Delta with respect to their joint US Department of Transportation application seeking antitrust immunity for the joint venture and related agreements.
  • Continuing to advise Delta with respect to a US Department of Transportation application for approval and the grant of antitrust immunity of a new transatlantic joint venture which would merge two previously approved joint ventures between Delta and Virgin Atlantic and between Delta and Air France/KLM.
  • Advised Wexford Capital on aviation regulatory issues with respect to numerous M&A transactions involving air carriers and a flight school, including a recent completed acquisition of a multi-functional on-demand air carrier.
  • Counsel to Aerion Corporation, the industry-leading civil supersonic aircraft company, on FAA airworthiness and noise certification regulatory matters, as well as assisting the company on legislative and regulatory work relating to domestic regulations and international standards on supersonic aircraft noise, sonic boom, environmental, and flight operations matters.
  • Advising Commercial Drone Alliance on NASA’s prestigious Advisory Council, advising NASA on issues related to the future of aeronautics (including drones and Urban Air Mobility (or automated electric vertical takeoff and landing cargo and passenger vehicles)) and related policy issues.

Baker McKenzie LLP

Baker McKenzie LLP has a highly regarded global aviation practice, and is also distinguished by the strength of its multi-disciplinary UAV team. Washington DC-based Jennifer Trock heads both the firm's global aviation group and the UAV practice; she has extensive experience in foreign and domestic airline licensing, airline restructuring and citizenship requirements. The team also assists in NTSB investigation responses, international safety policy development, including conflict zone flight safety, and airport access matters. Kenneth Quinn has left the firm.

Practice head(s):

Jennifer Trock

Work highlights

  • Advising Airglades International Airport on an innovative public-private partnership to develop an all-cargo, perishable goods airport in Hendry County, Florida under the FAA’s Airport Improvement Partnership Program (AIPP).

Clyde & Co LLP

Clyde & Co LLP handles disputes across the aviation industry, including those relating to commercial contracts, employment, leases and sales and purchase agreements, financing transactions, repossessions and enforcement proceedings. Practice chair Andrew Harakis has over 25 years of trial experience in the aviation space, handling litigation involving passenger and cargo air carriers, mass torts, insurance and product liability disputes. He also represents clients in proceedings before the DOT, FAA and OFAC. Jeffrey Ellis is rated for his knowledge of the legal and regulatory implications of matters related to the federal and international preemption of aviation safety and security standards, code share and alliance relationships. Christopher Carlsen is another contact for complex litigation. All individuals are based in New York.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Harakis

Jenner & Block LLP

Jenner & Block LLP handles the full range of traditional regulatory matters, and has played a role in the developing drone industry, with particular expertise in slot allocation, regulatory approvals and first-of-their-kind UAS applications. Of recent note, the team assisted Xcel Energy with obtaining the first regulatory approval granted by FAA for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) infrastructure inspection. Co-heads Abby Bried and Marc Warren have over 30 years combined experience advising major domestic and international airlines and aerospace manufacturers on structuring commercial and marketing alliances, joint ventures and strategic investments, as well as advising on complex antitrust issues. Jeffrey Immel is also recognized for his experience of UAS regulation. Named attorneys are based in Washington DC.

Practice head(s):

Abby Bried; Marc Warren

Other key lawyers:

Jeffrey Immel

Key clients

United Airlines

Xcel Energy


United Parcel Service Co.

Atlanta Braves

Cargo Airline Association

Work highlights

  • Advised Xcel Energy on obtaining the first regulatory approval granted by FAA for BVLOS infrastructure inspection and inspection flights.
  • Continuing to advise UPS Airlines on FAA regulatory advice on cockpit upgrades, crew training and technical operations. Also advise on complex compliance questions, investigations and actions and have been integrated into the airline’s safety and maintenance organizations.
  • Advised Atlanta Braves/Braves Development Company on obtaining FAA approval to build a new tower adjacent to its stadium site, located near a major Air Force base.
  • Represented the Cargo Airline Association in federal court litigation stemming from the FAA’s issuance of a directive requiring the retrofitting of center fuel tank systems in Boeing 757 all-cargo aircraft.

Jones Day

The aviation team at Jones Day handles an impressive variety of aviation litigation, ranging from commercial airliner crash litigation and NTSB accident investigations to disputes involving engine and aircraft supply contracts. Jointly led by Jointly led by John Goetz in Pittsburgh, Matthew Papez in Washington DC, and Detroit-based of counsel Stephen Cowen, the team acts for a number of prominent players in the global aviation market, including major domestic and international air carriers, OEMs and aircraft manufacturers, and logistics companies. Also recommended is Joshua Fuchs in the Houston office.

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Lee; Joshua Fuchs

Key clients

Alaska Airlines

FirstEnergy Corp.

Global Medical Response

Parker Hannifin Corporation

Philippine Airlines

Work highlights

  • Acting for Air Evac EMS, a network of life-saving emergency air transport carriers against multiple consumer class actions, filed in jurisdictions around the US, alleging air ambulance carriers charge improper fees for services.
  • Representing Alaska Airlines and Virgin America in a class suit brought by flight attendant in California concerning state wage-and-hour claims against Virgin America (since acquired by Alaska Airlines). The case will have implications for the wider airline industry, as it will determine whether interstate air travel will be burdened by conflicting state and local employment regulations, or will instead be governed by a uniform nationwide regulatory scheme.

Nixon Peabody LLP

Nixon Peabody LLP handles disputes and regulatory matters for a host of airplane and helicopter manufacturers, domestic and international airlines and parachuting and balloon operators. New York-based practice head Joseph Ortego specializes in complex commercial disputes in this space, including class actions, toxic torts, employment litigation, product liability matters and insurance claims. Deputy head Brian Dalrymple in San Francisco has over 30 years of experience representing airlines, type certificate holders, PMA holders, drone manufacturers and airports in defense of complex class action litigation.

Practice head(s):

Joseph Ortego

Other key lawyers:

Brian Dalrymple

Key clients


Avions de Transport Regional (ATR)

Airbus/Airbus Helicopters

Work highlights

  • Representing Socata and Socata North America in connection with wrongful death claims that have been filed in the state of New York, Florida and Connecticut arising from the crash of a TBM-900 turbo-prop aircraft off the coast of Jamaica after experiencing an in-flight depressurization event.
  • Continuing to serve as counsel for Avions de Transport Régional in connection with hull subrogation litigation arising from the March, 2014, landing accident of Calm Air International’s Flight MO515 at Churchill, Manitoba.
  • Representing Airbus Helicopters in litigation brought by a flight paramedic who was injured in the December 2015 crash of an AS350 B3 medical helicopter operated by Air Methods Corp., Native Air Ambulance, near Superior, Arizona.
  • Acting for Airbus Helicopters in civil proceedings following the March 2018 incident involving an Airbus Helicopter AS350 emergency landing in the East River.

O'Melveny & Myers LLP

O'Melveny & Myers LLP’s aviation group is co-chaired by Los Angeles-based Robert Seigel, a prominent labor lawyer with varied experience representing standout players in the US aviation space, such as American Airlines and United Airlines, as well as cargo airlines Atlas Air and Southern Air, in federal litigation and arbitration under the National Labor Relations Act. Another contact for labor-related issues is Adam KohSweeney in San Francisco, who focuses on wage and hour class action litigation.

Practice head(s):

Robert Siegel

Other key lawyers:

Adam KohSweeny

Key clients

Alaska Airline

American Airlines

Atlas Air

Hawaiian Airlines

Republic Airways

Southwest Airlines Co.

Spirit Airlines

Work highlights

  • Representing American Airlines in a putative nationwide gender equity case under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII, in which the plaintiff alleges that American discriminated against similarly situated female employees in compensation.
  • Successfully represented Atlas Air and Polar Air Cargo before the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit when the court affirmed the district court’s issuance of a preliminary injunction prohibiting the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and its member pilots from engaging in any slowdown activities designed to give the union greater leverage in ongoing collective bargaining negotiations.
  • Successfully represented American Airlines in securing a permanent injunction against unions representing American mechanics, which initiated slow-down efforts that led to the cancelation of 722 flights from the time American filed its lawsuit and the TRO was issued.
  • Acting for Asiana Airlines in a long-running antitrust litigation claiming Asiana and two dozen other airlines conspired to fix air cargo rates.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

The aviation, aerospace and transportation and unmanned aircraft systems practice at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is led by Charles Donley, one of the 'most advanced and well-informed advisors about the aviation sector worldwide'. Largely based in Washington DC, the team handles a range of licensing, enforcement and operating matters, aviation transactions and related litigation. Another key figure in the team is Josh Romanow, who advises international airlines from Europe, Asia, Latin America, Middle East on licensing and traffic rights for US operations. Employment partner Thomas Liu in Los Angeles is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Charles Donley

Other key lawyers:

Josh Romanow; Thomas Liu


Giving importance to any single legal issue, no matter how important or not it is, makes reliable the Pillsbury team’

‘Charles Donley- most advanced and well informed about the aviation sector worldwide, on time performance and knowledge of the sector is most valuable.’

Key clients

American Airlines

Xiamen Airlines

Japan Airlines

Vietnam Airlines

Norwegian Air Shuttle

Air France/KLM Royal Dutch Airline

Work highlights

  • Representing Air France/KLM in an antitrust immunity proceeding before Department of Transportation.
  • Representing a major Chinese air carrier in an ongoing Department of Transportation investigation pertaining to advertising, refund and marketing policies and website compliance.
  • Acting for China Southern Airlines in a Department of Transportation enforcement proceeding alleging the airline discriminated against certain types of cargo (laboratory animals) and seeking penalties in refusing to transport cargo.

Reed Smith LLP

Patrick Bradley leads Reed Smith LLP’s aviation litigation team in Princeton, where he is recognized for his experience handling high-profile, multi-district actions arising from catastrophic aviation accidents. Bradley is also a skilled product liability litigator, having led successful defenses for aircraft and component parts manufacturers in numerous aircraft crashes. Another name to note is Oliver Beiersdorf, who focuses on defending aerospace industry manufacturers and airlines in breach of contract, property damage, personal injury and wrongful death claims.

Practice head(s):

Patrick Bradley

Other key lawyers:

Oliver Beiersdorf

Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP

Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP has acted for manufacturing clients in high-profile and multi-district litigation arising out of domestic and foreign airline disasters. The aviation group is chaired by Barry Alexander, who works across the Philadelphia and New York offices, and Robert Williams, who divides his time between the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Counsel Jonathan Stern specializes in aerospace-related litigation, including insurance claims, and personal injury and wrongful death litigation.

Holland & Knight LLP

Holland & Knight LLP's aviation group is jointly led by Christopher Kelly and Randall Craft in New York, alongside Washington DC-based Anita Mosner, who advises participants in airline alliances and joint ventures on antitrust issues arising from those alliances, and also acts as regulatory compliance counsel in airline investment transactions. Also recommended are Gary Halbert, who specializes in accident litigation and mass torts, and Steven Raffaele in the New York, who handles product liability matters, accident litigation and regulatory matters before the FAA.

Other key lawyers:

Gary Halbert; Steven Raffaele


‘Subject matter experts, stable team, great entanglement in the appropriate professional circles, proactive communication and quick to respond’

Key clients

JetBlue Airways Corporation

Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation

SkyWest Airlines

Miami Air


Societe Air France

Work highlights

  • Represented Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation in litigation in Florida and Georgia arising out of the crash of Gulfstream Model GIV corporate jet in France on July, 2012.
  • Representing and defending Jetblue Airways, and its insurers Allianz, in a putative class action filed in California federal court, in which plaintiff alleges that JetBlue improperly charges and keeps baggage fees from travelers whose bags have been lost, damaged, or delayed.
  • Acting for SkyWest Airlines (along with American Airlines via a tender of defense made to SkyWest) in defending a lawsuit filed in Texas on the eve of the running of the statute of limitations arising out of a turbulence event involving an American Eagle flight operated by SkyWest Airlines on August 22, 2017.
  • Acting for Miami Air and its insurers (Allianz) in connection with major aviation accident on May, 2019, in which Miami Air Flight 293, a charter flight carrying military personnel and their families en route from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, overran the runway at the Navy Air Station at Jacksonville, Florida coming to rest in the St. Johns River.

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP advises on a full range of aviation regulatory matters, both on a standalone basis and in the context of transactions and commercial joint ventures. The team has also represented clients in litigation and in administrative proceedings before the NTSB. Contacts in the team include Dane JaquesCarol Gosain and David Coburn, all of whom are based in Washington DC.

Thompson Hine LLP

At Thompson Hine LLP, Washington DC based senior counsel Brent Connor represents major domestic and international airlines - most notably cargo air carriers - before the DOT and FAA in connection with compliance matters, requests for approvals, licenses and certificates, route proceedings and codeshare issues. He has also defended clients in enforcement actions relating to hazardous materials.

Practice head(s):

Brent Connor