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AVIATION

The aviation industry is shaped by a number of rapidly evolving legal and operational complexities. The globalization of other industries, the increase in international trade, ongoing shifts in the consumer and cargo markets, competing demands of cost versus service coming from both regulatory and congressional oversight, and focus on the industry’s effect on climate change are just some of the issues that influence the aviation industry.

Thompson Coburn attorneys are well aware of these issues and are prepared to help companies develop solutions to these and other challenges. Given our attorneys’ key government contacts and years in the industry, we are well-positioned to keep air carriers abreast of, and help them respond to, the many economic, safety and security regulations.

Our attorneys have represented some of the largest air transport enterprises in the United States. In addition, we counsel the Air Transport Association (ATA) and have represented the air carrier industry on international liability and environmental issues and regulatory matters. We also drafted an industry-wide arrangement for carriers to modernize their international liability rules pending the negotiation of a new treaty.

Our aviation attorneys have represented air carriers before federal courts, including the courts of appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Our legal team includes a former Assistant General Counsel for International Law at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) who presided over the sunset of the Civil Aeronautics Board and the transfer of its functions to the DOT. Our attorneys also serve as counsel on appellate matters relating to international aviation, specifically passenger and cargo liability issues under the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions.

Airlines for America

For nearly two decades, we have represented U.S. scheduled passenger, combination and all cargo service airlines via the industry’s principal trade and service organization, the Airlines for America (A4A), formerly known as the Air Transport Association of America, Inc. (ATA). During this time, the firm has counseled the ATA on issues involving the development and implementation of the liability rules for air passengers under the Warsaw Convention and its successor, the Montreal Convention, in proceedings before the DOT Office of the Secretary (OST). Thompson Coburn represented the U.S. airline industry in obtaining Senate advice and counsel regarding the ratification of the Montreal Convention.

In 1996, our attorneys drafted, filed with the DOT, and, upon DOT approval, assisted in implementing the 1996 Implementing Provisions Agreement (1996 IPA) concerning the limits and conditions of international passenger liability established by the Warsaw Convention.

From 2005 through the present, our attorneys have represented the ATA and its members before the DOT in a proceeding seeking regulatory approval of updated and amended liability rules for air passengers (the 2006 IPA), which modernizes air carrier international liability rules and harmonizes the rules of the Warsaw Convention and the Montreal Convention.

In addition, Thompson Coburn has represented the ATA on a variety of environmental and regulatory matters before the DOT and before the U.S. Congress.

Chemical Client

The firm advised a chemical company with respect to an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Security and Hazardous Material Division, arising from multiple shipments of hazardous materials in apparent noncompliance with the applicable regulations of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). We participated extensively in structuring and preparing an initial submission as well as supplemental submissions to the FAA. Despite the potential for hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties, the FAA agreed to resolve the matter with a Letter of Warning and to forego any civil penalties.

SonAir Serviço Aéreo, S.A. (SonAir)

Since 1998, the firm has counseled SonAir, a subsidiary of the Angolan national oil company, and the U.S.-Africa Energy Association (USAEA), an association of companies engaged in the exploration and development of petroleum resources off the west coast of Africa, in connection with a private charter service that has become known as the Houston Express. SonAir acts as the USAEA’s agent in arranging the private charter for the exclusive use of USAEA members travelling between Houston and Luanda, Angola. Most recently, Thompson Coburn advised SonAir and the USAEA in connection with the negotiation of a long-term contract with Atlas Air, Inc. to perform the charter with two 747s that were acquired by SonAir’s parent and specially configured for dedication to this service.

Publications

Developments in aircraft and marine finance for 2016

Former head of OSHA discusses workplace injury policies, DOJ enforcement

New OSHA reporting and anti-retaliation rules

Update on academic use of drones

Micro UAS Committee charts bold new course for FAA treatment of smaller unmanned aircraft

Shippers, are you ready for SOLAS’ verified container weight mandate?

Small Business Committee holds hearing to explore commercial drone operations

Small UAS comment countdown begins: FAA publishes notice of proposed rulemaking

Florida drone bill a reminder to UAS operators: Know all the rules before you fly

UAS hearing yields details on systems research and development, but no timeline for small UAS rule

Electronic waste rules could help thwart flow of counterfeit parts

'Tis the season: FAA launches safety campaign for unmanned aircraft

Unmanned aircraft systems are 'aircraft' once again: National Transportation Safety Board reverses administrative law judge on key definition

Blog Posts

Ag and drones – What do you need to know?

Drones on campus: What higher ed needs to know

Drone users to lawmakers: ‘Should I stay or should I go?’

Marketing real estate with drones: When can we take to the skies?

News

Warren Dean writes op-ed on Open Skies, Mid-East airline subsidies for The Hill

Thompson Coburn earns corporate counsel recommendations five years running in national report

Margie Krumholz elected to American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers

Jim Slear leads webinar on ‘Navigating the Russian and Ukrainian Sanctions Maze’

U.S. Supreme Court unanimously sides with position of Thompson Coburn airline client

Jim Burger writes about counterfeits for Defense One

Thompson Coburn files U.S. Supreme Court brief for international airline group

Scott Lane named to St. Louis Business Journal’s 30 Under 30

Senator Kit Bond receives Eisenhower Award for support of defense industrial base

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