Arnold & Porter fields a multidisciplinary bench of senior lawyers, who act across the entire commercial, cargo and corporate aircraft sector. It consistently acts as counsel to national, international, and regional clients in a range of commercial disputes and transnational litigation, including jury and non-jury trials. The practice is seen as a go-to firm for crisis incidents, its recent experience including litigation resulting from the COVID-19 outbreaks on international cruise ships in early 2020. It was also recently active in cabin air contamination litigation across the US, which was brought by flight attendants and commercial air passengers. Christopher Odell, whose track record includes significant transportation-related mass tort cases, heads the aviation practice, while Kenneth Chernof in Washington DC and New York’s James Herschlein co-chair the complex litigation group. Also highly rated are Thad Dameris, whose commercial disputes and transnational litigation practice covers aviation matters; and Washington DC-based David Weiner, whose workload includes acting in relation to aviation accidents. At senior associate level, Amanda Thomson‘s experience includes representing a European airframe manufacturer in lawsuits arising out of aircraft incidents. All the attorneys listed are based in Houston, unless otherwise mentioned.
Transport: aviation and air travel - litigation and regulation in United States
Airbus Group SE
Airbus Military & Space NL
Airbus Ventures Equity Partner
Airbus Helicopters SAS
Airbus Limited UK
- Representing Airbus in 100-plus personal injury claims in a class action, as well as several opt-out personal injury actions, which relate to the March 2015 crash landing of an Air Canada A320 aircraft.
- Representing Airbus entities in a high-profile case that was brought by famed test pilot Chuck Yeager, and which related to a breach of California’s right of publicity statute and a violation of other rights.
Condon & Forsyth LLP
Specialist aviation law firm Condon & Forsyth LLP is a go-to for aviation disputes. It currently acts as outside counsel to a considerable number of air carriers and aviation manufacturers, and is best known for commercial airline accident investigations and litigation. The practice’s aviation expertise also extends to product liability, class actions, insurance coverage and reinsurance, regulatory issues, and mass disaster and emergency responses. Co-heading the group are Christopher Christensen, Bartholomew Banino and John Maggio. Christensen represents air carriers, manufacturers and other aviation-related entities in major aviation accident investigations; Banino is widely respected for his expertise in the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions; and Miami office head Maggio, alongside Los Angeles’ Scott Cunningham, is currently defending Aeromexico against claims arising from a 2018 crash in Mexico. Other highly regarded advisers are Anthony Battista, who is lead counsel to numerous airlines, lessors and operators in relation to the worldwide grounding of Boeing’s 737-MAX aircraft; and Katherine Posner, who acts in aviation and aerospace industry-related international arbitration and commercial litigation. Other highly-regarded performers include Allison Surcouf, Mary Dow and Evan Kwarta. All attorneys are based in New York unless otherwise stated.
Other key lawyers:
Advent Aircraft Systems
Aerovías de México
Air Charter Service
Air Lease Corporation
Air New Zealand
All Nippon Airways
Aon Risk Services
Cathay Pacific Airways
Cebu Pacific Air
Compañía Panameña de Aviación
Dassault Falcon Jet
Delta Air Lines
Embraer Executive Aircraft
F&E Aircraft Maintenance
Flight Lease Capital Management
Fly 7 Executive Aviation
Global SuperTanker Services
International Underwriting Association
Japan Airlines Co
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
LOT Polish Airlines
Lufthansa German Airlines
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Nippon Cargo Airlines
Pakistan International Airlines
Piiq Risk Partners
PrimeFlight Aviation Services
Royal Air Maroc
Royal Jordanian Airlines
Scandinavian Airlines System
Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance
South African Airways
Southwest Airlines Pilots Association
ST Aerospace Engineering
Sun Country Airlines
TAP Air Portugal
Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co
Willis Towers Watson
Yaborã Indústria Aeronáutica
Cozen O’Connor‘s Washington DC-based practice consistently acts as primary regulatory counsel to global aviation and aerospace clients on the full range of aviation-related regulatory licensing and compliance issues. Representative expertise covers economic, consumer protection, safety, security and competition regulations. The firm is a go-to practice for Airlines for America (a US airline trade association that represents all the major US airlines) for complex aviation regulatory issues. In recent work, the team also assisted airlines and aviation companies with compliance with CARES Act-related regulatory requirements and conditions. Heading up the practice, David Heffernan represents significant US and foreign airlines (and their trade associations), airports, air travel distribution companies, and aircraft, engine and other equipment manufacturers before various government agencies. Also integral to the practice are Mark Atwood, who routinely appears before the courts, regulatory agencies and Congress; and Jonathon Foglia, who joined as partner from KMA Zuckert LLC in June 2021 and advises on compliance with US Department of Transportation (DOT) economic regulations. At senior associate level, Rachel Welford is a specialist in aviation security-related legal, policy and operational issues.
Airlines for America
Sky Airline Peru
- Advising Airlines for America on complex, high-stakes aviation regulatory issues.
- Advising Lufthansa Group as longstanding primary outside counsel on US aviation regulatory issues.
- Advising Alaska Airlines on the US legal and regulatory issues affecting its integration into the oneworld global alliance, as well as related efforts to develop its bilateral commercial relationships with other oneworld member airlines.
Hogan Lovells US LLP‘s Washington DC office houses several aviation specialists, who act across a range of areas and consistently demonstrate ‘extraordinary industry experience‘. In addition to its traditional aviation practices, the department assists with cutting-edge transportation work, such as the development of commercially viable hydrogen-powered aircraft. In other highlights, the team recently advised on COVID-19 flight cancellations, refunds, and consumer protection matters, as well as regulatory issues. Heading the global aviation practice, senior counsel Robert Cohn‘s client base includes US and foreign airlines, low-cost airlines, financial institutions, and airport and infrastructure developers. Lisa Ellman plays a leadership role in the un-crewed aircraft systems and drones sectors. Also integral to the team are counsel Patrick Rizzi, who has extensive aviation law experience and regularly represents clients before the US DOT and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); and senior counsel Ted Ellett, who advises aviation industry clients on business, legislative, FAA and US DOT regulatory matters. Arjun Garg joined in 2021 as partner from the FAA, where he was Chief Counsel, while senior associate Matthew Clark is a regulatory specialist.
‘They have in-depth knowledge of the policies and regulations surrounding the emerging UAS industry – Hogan Lovells has done an amazing job supporting our engagement with the FAA, in relation to advanced UAS operations for both us and our partners.‘
‘They act partly as legal counsel, partly as government relations experts, and partly as psychologists and therapists.‘
‘Industry-best talent in drone regulations. No firm has a better understanding or better influence in relation to US drone regulations.‘
‘Their legal work is top notch and the team members all have unique strengths.‘
‘Extraordinary industry experience.‘
‘Senior counsel Robert Cohn is truly an aviation law legend.‘
‘Robert Cohn and counsel Patrick Rizzi continue to provide advice that is timely, relevant and business focused. They truly have our best interests at heart, and act as if they are employed by us rather than retained.‘
‘Lisa Ellman brings a unique understanding of how innovation and policy come together in a new and emerging industry. Lisa also has a fantastic network of key contacts in both the public and private sector.‘
Commercial Drone Alliance
Sun Country Airlines
Drone Racing League
- Represented American Robotics, a developer of fully-automated commercial drone systems, in obtaining the first-ever approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate automated drones without human operators on site.
- Advising American Airlines on an ongoing basis as aviation regulatory counsel.
- Representing WestJet and Swoop, a Canadian ultra-low-cost airline and WestJet’s affiliate, in relation to twenty formal complaints filed with the US Department of Transportation over COVID-19 flight cancellations and refund issues.
Providing coast-to-coast coverage for international aviation clients, Clyde & Co LLP‘s team is ‘an excellent choice of counsel for a complex set of aviation claims‘. In addition to the practice’s litigation experience, the team consistently defends clients’ insureds in aviation mass disasters, as well as in product liability disputes. Practice head Andrew Harakas‘ track record includes representing clients in cases that arise out of major aviation losses, and he has extensive appellate experience. Also key to the group are Jeffrey Ellis, who has over 30 years’ experience in representing the aviation industry at trial and appellate level; and San Francisco-based Kevin Sutherland, who serves on the firm’s global aviation executive committee and is responsible for the aviation group’s North American region. All advisers named are based in the firm’s New York office, unless otherwise stated.
‘Clyde & Co proved to be an excellent choice of counsel for a complex set of aviation claims.‘
‘They have exceeded expectations with case management skills that have showcased their drive, experience and knowledge.‘
‘We have seen excellent results for our clients and we would not hesitate to consider them for future matters.‘
‘They have proven their ability to grasp firmly the issues surrounding the complex claims we have engaged them on.‘
‘Kevin Sutherland has vast experience in aviation claims, and has an excellent support team around him.‘
Holland & Knight LLP
With ‘excellent industry knowledge‘, Holland & Knight LLP is highly active in representing US and foreign airlines in substantial litigation that arises out of airline crashes. It also handles disputes concerning aircraft leases, passenger claims, and class actions involving US and international law. Its regulatory expertise covers licensing, compliance, competition and enforcement defense. Christopher Kelly has particular expertise in defending mass-tort, toxic-tort and commercial claims. In Washington DC, Anita Mosner handles high-stakes aero-political disputes, as well as enforcement claims and litigation surrounding the sale and marketing of air transport services. Providing key support is former National Transportation Safety Board general counsel Gary Halbert, also in DC, while Judy Nemsick and Steven Raffaele‘s practices also cover airline-related litigation. All advisers mentioned are in New York, save where otherwise stated.
‘Very broadly based and with excellent industry knowledge.‘
‘Outstanding contacts in politics and the industry.‘
‘The department, led by Anita Mosner, is qualified with enormous expertise.‘
JetBlue Airways Corporation
Societe Air France
- Represented JetBlue Airways in state and federal litigation throughout the US.
- Representing several airlines in proceedings against both administrative and judicial challenges to policies concerning the refund of fares for flights that were cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis.
- Acting for Volaris El Salvador on the US launch of a new El Salvadorian carrier that is part of the Volaris family of carriers.
With extensive experience in acting for aviation sector clients, Jones Day fields a team that includes civilian and former military pilots, former senior officers of the FAA and Department of Justice, and former aviation manufacturer in-house lawyers. Pittsburgh-based John Goetz heads up the firm’s worldwide airlines and aviation cross-practice initiative, counseling airline and aviation clients in China, Japan, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia, in addition to the US. Other names to note are litigation and trial attorney Matthew Papez in Washington DC, who is particularly focused on the aviation and aerospace industries; and Detroit-based Stephen Cowen, whose track record includes representing aerospace clients in breach of contract, patent, trade secret and business tort disputes.
Other key lawyers:
The Boeing Company
Global Medical Response
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Parker Hannifin Corporation
- Representing Boeing in connection with the design and construction of the military aircraft that transports the President of the United States.
- Representing United Airlines in a lawsuit that involves a novel issue arising under the Payroll Support Program of the CARES Act.
- Assisted Global Medical Response, a network of air ambulance providers, on its strategy to combat state laws limiting the amount air ambulance providers could collect for their services.
Offering ‘a very good combination of legal and technical skills‘, Nixon Peabody LLP has longstanding experience in acting as national litigation counsel for aviation manufacturers. Clients regularly look to the team to represent them in National Transportation Safety Board, FAA and foreign accident investigations. The practice also assists manufacturing, aviation and other transportation clients with regulatory matters, as well as the establishment of risk management and product integrity procedures. In New York, Joseph Ortego routinely handles aviation sector-related litigation, and regulatory and compliance issues. San Francisco-based Brian Dalrymple, whose is noted for his 'talent and expertise...backed up by engineering knowledge and pilot experience‘, acts in the co-ordination and defense of complex, multi-district and class action litigation, while counsel Tracey Scarpello in Buffalo regularly defends and counsels aviation industry clients.
‘This practice offers a very good combination of legal and technical skills.‘
‘Their experience in aviation litigation and regulatory matters is a great asset.‘
‘Brian Dalrymple’s legal talent and expertise are backed up and improved by his engineering knowledge and pilot experience – these render his advice and support outstanding in relation to both the strategic and tactical aspects of aviation litigation.‘
Daher Socata d/b/a Socata North America
Avions de Transport Regional
- Represented Daher-Socata Aerospace in securing a unanimous defense verdict in Broward County in Florida which concluded that pilot error caused the crash of the single-engine TBM 850, and that the plane was safe and free of any defect.
- Represented Avions de Transport Régional (ATR) in the CTSB investigation and litigation arising from the December 2017 accident of West Wind Aviation’s Flight #280 at Fond-du-Lac in Saskatchewan.
- Represented Avions de Transport Régional in hull subrogation litigation arising from the March 2014 landing accident of Calm Air International’s Flight MO515 at Churchill in Manitoba.
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP‘s broad team routinely represents major airlines in the US and around the world. The ‘very responsive, knowledgeable and trustworthy‘ regulatory practice covers administrative adjudications, enforcements, litigation, aircraft leasing, and airline safety and certification matters. The group also assists with accident investigations and employment matters, and has a robust unmanned aircraft systems offering. Co-head Charles Donley has enviable experience in aviation licensing, enforcement and operating matters, and fellow co-head Josh Romanow acts for airlines from Europe, Asia, Latin America, Middle East, as well as global travel companies. In Los Angeles, Thomas Liu represents aviation clients in labor and employment litigation, while special counsel Laura Jennings Ochoa also has extensive aviation and airline experience. All named lawyers are based in the Washington DC office unless otherwise mentioned.
‘Very responsive, knowledgeable and trustworthy.’
‘Very experienced in aviation aircraft lease-related disputes.‘
‘Good interaction with the regulatory authorities.‘
‘They are always quick to respond with accurate answers and practical solutions.‘
‘They have very good teamwork, cooperating smoothly on complex issues, and they are very flexible on billing.‘
‘Charles Donley has the ability to organize and coordinate resources so as to find the best solution for his clients. He never argues over differences, but always has his own way of convincing others by focusing on common ground.‘
‘Charles Donley is an expert in his field. We value his attitude and how he handles cases.‘
‘Josh Romanow is great, and very sensitive to clients’ needs.‘
LATAM Airlines Chile
LATAM Cargo Chile
LATAM Cargo Colombia
Norse Atlantic Airways
KLM Royal Dutch Airline
Air China Cargo
China Southern Airlines
China Southern Airlines Cargo
Hong Kong Airlines
Hong Kong Express
Cebu Pacific Air
- Representing LATAM airlines in an antitrust immunity proceeding before the US Department of Transportation.
- Acting as special regulatory counsel to American Airlines in hundreds of aircraft financings.
- Representing a major Chinese air carrier in an ongoing Department of Transportation investigation involving advertising, refund and marketing policies, and website compliance.
Reed Smith LLP
Reed Smith LLP has a strong reputation in the market for high-stakes tort claims that arise from major air accidents. It is also consistently mandated to defend airlines against potentially damaging passenger claims. Co-heading the group are Princeton-based Patrick Bradley and Oliver Beiersdorf in New York. Bradley assists with aviation-related product liability issues across the US, in relation to wrongful death, personal injury and property loss/damage claims. Bradley also acts in the defense of commercial airline clients, while Beiersdorf has 20-plus years’ experience in aviation litigation. In the Houston office, Kenneth Broughton‘s broad practice covers commercial litigation within the aviation industry, while Princeton-based counsel Gregory Speier is another key aviation litigation specialist.
Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP
Core areas of expertise for Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP include aircraft product liability, military and civilian aircraft accidents, commercial airline defense work, and aviation insurance disputes. With longstanding experience in representing aviation clients in both litigation and accident investigations, Denny Shupe is a senior partner in the Philadelphia office; and Washington DC-based counsel Jonathan Stern focuses on aerospace-related litigation. Co-chairing the aviation group are aviation litigation and product liability claims specialist Robert Williams, who works across the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia offices; and New York and Philadelphia-based Barry Alexander, a commercial, product liability, and personal injury litigation expert. In Philadelphia, co-chair of the litigation services department Stephen Shapiro regularly defends large commercial airlines against passenger claims; and associate Lee Schmeer focuses on aviation and product liability matters.
‘It is a joy to work with everyone on the team at Schnader. They all seek to learn and understand the technical details of whatever matter we are working on, and adapt well to the way we work at our corporation.‘
‘They know the law inside and out, and always seek the best resolution for our corporation. They also put the right person on the job, and always give sound advice on how to proceed – therefore we are able to trust them implicitly.‘
‘They are professional and knowledgeable individuals, and the whole team is very approachable. They also always provide sound advice and look to resolve matters swiftly.‘
‘They always provide excellent presentations, as well as informative webinars.‘
‘As a firm, they always look to promote their junior members of staff and introduce them to the team.‘
‘Barry Alexander is very pragmatic and knows how to resolve difficult situations.‘
‘Barry Alexander is very approachable and explains complex facts in a user-friendly manner. Barry understands our claims-handling guidelines and knows how we wish to handle claims.‘
‘Barry Alexander’s reporting is very clear and his communication is key. He will always take the time to explain the facts in a concise and logical way.‘
Rolls-Royce North America
Great American Insurance Company
AVStar Fuel Systems
- Representing an aviation sector client in litigation stemming from the fatal crash of a sightseeing helicopter into Manhattan’s East River in 2018.
- Representing an educational non-profit in litigation stemming from the fatal crash of a B-17 Flying Fortress during a local sightseeing flight In 2019.
- Represented Southwest Airlines in lawsuits arising from a high-profile 2018 aviation incident, involving the engine failure, rapid depressurization and emergency landing of Southwest Flight 1380.
Baker McKenzie LLP
Baker McKenzie LLP‘s global aviation group, led by Washington DC-based Jennifer Trock, has longstanding experience in assisting aviation industry clients with complex regulatory issues, investigations, enforcement proceedings and licensing, among others. The UAS focus team, led by Trock, routinely represents innovative UAS developers and manufacturers in regulatory matters. The group is also highly regarded for its advice on the regulatory issues surrounding airline financings that are secured by slots, routes and gates. The practice is noted for its ability to partner with other practice areas, such as environmental, employment and tax law, as well as litigation.
Other key lawyers:
A go-to adviser for aerospace manufacturers, Cooley LLP is consistently retained to act in accident litigation, including fatal air crashes and wrongful death claims. It is also sought out by freight carriers to serve as liability and emergency response counsel. Other notable areas include manned and unmanned flights, and airport-related disputes on behalf of airports and fixed-base operators. Practice head William O’Connor in San Diego is a highly rated trial lawyer, while Washington DC-based special counsel Parker Erkmann assists with aviation regulatory issues. Associate Andrew Barr in Denver also routinely acts in aviation suits.
Town of East Hampton
- Representing Textron and Textron Aviation in a fleet-wide dispute regarding the Cessna TTx aircraft.
- Represented the Town of East Hampton, which owns the East Hampton Airport, in legal and administrative proceedings arising from the use of airport revenues for legal fees.
- Representing MD Helicopters before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in relation to a helicopter crash in Washington’s Oso.
Jenner & Block LLP
Jenner & Block LLP‘s Washington DC-based aviation and aerospace group is able to leverage the firm’s notable FAA expertise in its work with aviation sector clients. The team also regularly assists with regulatory developments in the unmanned aircraft systems space. Chair of the firm’s aviation and aerospace practice Marc Warren has extensive aviation sector experience, while associate Grant Schweikert represents aviation clients in complex and high-stakes regulatory and litigation matters.
Other key lawyers:
O’Melveny & Myers LLP’s ‘very deep bench of attorneys‘ are praised for their experience in litigation disputes. Representative matters for the ‘extremely responsive‘ practice cover labor and employment issues, antitrust claims, The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, consumer class actions, and personal injury. Airline labor law specialist Robert Seigel in Los Angeles is outside labor counsel for a substantial number of passenger and cargo airlines. New York-based Mark Robertson regularly acts for some of the world’s largest airlines, including American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Atlas Air and Spirit Airlines.
‘OMM has a very deep bench of attorneys who are very familiar with the unique labor and employment issues faced by airlines.‘
‘They are extremely responsive and have a uniquely high level of understanding of our industry.‘
Southwest Airlines Co
US Airways Group
- Represented Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air in a nationwide USERRA class action.
- Representing US Airways (now American Airlines) in a retrial, following the Second Circuit’s reversal and remand of a 2016 jury verdict in US Airways’ favor, which held trip-booking giant Sabre liable under the Sherman Act (Section 1).
- Assisted United Airlines with the issues surrounding its business response to COVID-19 vaccinations, including the legality of its mandatory vaccination requirement and grievances raised by unions.
Paul Hastings LLP routinely acts for corporate clients in substantial litigation concerning airline disasters. The aviation litigation practice is headed up by Chicago-based Sheila Sundvall, who has notable experience in representing commercial airlines, manufacturers, aircraft lessors and other defendants in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. Sundvall has acted for General Electric, as lead counsel, in major airline accident litigation on a long-standing basis.
- Represented CFM International in 60 personal injury cases (including a wrongful death claim), which arose out of engine failure and the subsequent 2018 emergency evacuation of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 at Philadelphia International Airport.
- Representing GE in personal injury lawsuits, which arose out of a 2016 engine fire incident on American Airlines Flight 383 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.