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    Aviation, Aerospace & Transportation


    Pillsbury’s Aviation, Aerospace & Transportation practice is ranked "Tier 1" in the latest 2016 Chambers USA and Chambers Global, a leading independent guide that interviews clients to compile its rankings. Chambers notes, "This well-established aviation regulatory group fields a number of 'experienced, expert lawyers who offer high-quality advice.' Sources highlight the lawyers' 'expertise, expediency and great business instincts' as key strengths for this practice; clients say they have had 'nothing but positive experiences' using the group." 

    Those involved in the aviation industry face a wide array of government regulations, investigations, litigation, financing complications and other hurdles, many of a cross-border nature. Pillsbury has one of the oldest and broadest aviation practices, covering the entire radar screen in the field of aviation law. With decades of experience, we can advise you on complex accident investigations and litigation, regulatory and enforcement matters, finance and insurance matters, securities offerings, financial restructuring, bond counsel, international trade and licensing, or tax policies. Our lawyers in Washington, DC, Houston, New York, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Tokyo are linked by advanced communications technology to offer comprehensive services to the international aviation industry.

    We regularly represent clients on all continents. Among our clients are many of the world’s largest aerospace companies, including aircraft, engine, and component manufacturers, top cities and airports, major air carriers, new entrants, charter operators, cargo carriers, foreign air carriers, large repair stations, international banks, the largest computer reservations systems and Internet travel distributor, and leasing companies and brokers. We act as general counsel to established U.S. and foreign airlines and to newer carriers in Eastern Europe, South America and Asia, and handle specific assignments from spare parts consignment agreements to litigation. Our broad range of capabilities in aviation include:


    We represent domestic, foreign, cargo, and start-up air carriers on regulatory, legislative, enforcement, compliance, safety investigation, and employment matters. Our expertise includes route proceedings, contract negotiations, commercial agreements, disputes between airlines and tour operators, cruise lines, hotels and casinos. We also represent airlines with DOJ, DOT, FAA, NTSB, TSA, Customs, FCC, Immigration regulatory issues, and accident investigations. The airline regulatory practice covers administrative adjudication, rulemakings, legislation, enforcement, air service negotiations, antitrust, environmental, export licensing, customs and tax matters, as well as airline safety, certification and accident investigations.

    Aviation Privatization

    Our aviation privatization team includes a unique combination of all of the disciplines necessary to structure, finance, negotiate and document an aviation privatization project. Our experience in this area include the representation of Aerostar in the successful privatization of the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico under the FAA's Airport Privatization Pilot Program.

    Airport Representation

    We represent cities and airport authorities on issues such as privatization, Part 13 and Part 16 proceedings, airport lease and use agreements, international air service, slots, revenue retention, rates and charges, collateral land use, environmental law, congestion, finance, competition, enforcement and litigation matters, and grant compliance.

    Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

    Pillsbury’s UAS team is composed of lawyers who are authorities on legal and regulatory issues facing the UAS Industry, from aviation to privacy, security to communications, and trade controls to insurance. We serve as legal counsel to a number of world-class companies and universities that are actively seeking to leverage and realize the full commercial potential of UAS. We provide guidance on the licensing and operation of UAS to clients in multiple industries, including: Mining, Commercial Building Inspections, Electrical and Nuclear Utilities, Higher Education/Research & Development Applications, News & Entertainment, Telecommunications, Retail, Professional Sports Teams, and UAS manufacturers.

    Corporate Aviation

    We have a thorough understanding of corporate flight departments, charter operators, aircraft management companies, fractional ownership programs, manufacturers and airports, and offer a wide variety of services, which include developing ownership and operating structures. The Aviation team works closely with the Transportation Finance practice to counsel clients on all matters related to aviation finance and leasing, asset acquisitions and dispositions, structured finance, and restructurings and enforcement.

    Aircraft Finance

    Our aviation work includes the financing (including pre-delivery financing) of new and used aircraft, engines and parts. We represent a wide range of international banks, leasing companies, trading companies and aircraft financing specialists with respect to international and U.S. loans, leases, leveraged leases, receivables financings, capital markets securitization and progress payment facilities. In recent years, we have successfully negotiated and documented Eximbank financings for equipment valued at over $2 billion. We also have dealt with other government-supported programs, such as those of the Japan Eximbank, ECGD, COFACE and HERMES. Our extensive experience with cross-border and tax-advantaged transactions includes U.S. leveraged leases, Japanese leveraged leases, U.S. FSC transactions and Pickle-Dole lease structures.


    Pillsbury attorneys regularly represent and advise aviation industry clients in connection with the full range of antitrust and competition issues facing the industry today. From the global defense of civil and criminal antitrust proceedings, to antitrust counseling on all types of cooperative ventures and unilateral practices, to assisting with antitrust immunity applications, to providing antitrust training and crafting compliance procedures, we have helped prevent and resolve antitrust complications for a wide array of U.S. and foreign airlines and other aviation industry clients. We have been involved in many of the most significant aviation antitrust proceedings since the advent of deregulation, including computer reservations systems litigation, “electronic price-fixing” litigation, travel agent commission lawsuits, air cargo price-fixing litigation, and transpacific passenger fare price-fixing litigation.


    We have litigated in the U.S. and abroad virtually every type of claim or dispute that an aviation company might face, including claims relating to air crashes, aircraft purchase agreements, antitrust, patent, trade, export controls, transfer of technology, maintenance repair organizations, cargo, bankruptcies, and aircraft repossessions. We are familiar with aviation and aerospace specific issues, such as maintenance condition, valuation, registration, delivery and aircraft purchase and financing contracts, which may arise in aviation related litigation. We have vast experience representing foreign companies and thus have uncommon familiarity with issues relating to service of process and discovery abroad, jurisdiction over foreign entities, forum non conveniens, and multidistrict litigation.

    General Commercial Matters

    We advise and assist with a wide range of commercial issues and agreements, including office and airport leases, architect and construction contracts, ground and ramp handling agreements, catering contracts, contracts for telephone equipment, computer software and hardware, and other office and airport equipment and furnishings, CRS agreements, fuel agreements, advertising contracts, agreements relating to promotional programs and marketing agreements.

    Aviation Security

    We have experience in virtually all matters related to airport security. Prior to 9/11, we represented almost every major security company providing services at airports in the U.S. With airline and airport security concerns paramount in the wake of 9/11, our Firm has taken the lead on advising a wide variety of aviation clients on legislation, regulation, and litigation involving security.

    Aviation Insurance

    We are familiar with all aspects of aircraft hull, liability, war risk and political risk insurance. Few firms have greater experience in aircraft repossession/deregistration insurance, which has served as a commercial substitute for export credit agency guarantees.

    Aerospace Manufacturers and Repair Stations

    We represent several domestic and European aircraft and engine manufacturers and repair stations in connection with the sale of their equipment, various manufacturer-assisted financing structures, applications for equipment certification before U.S. regulatory agencies, FAA enforcement and regulatory matters, NTSB investigations, litigation, accident liability, hazardous materials issues, and export licensing requirements.


    Our aviation work includes a range of environmental matters, including assistance in environmental assessments and monitoring of international and domestic standards related to aviation greenhouse gas emissions. We have also represented clients in Petitions for Review in the U.S. Courts of Appeals in a range of administrative and environmental challenges to DOT and FAA actions.

    Travel Law

    We advise travel industry clients (airlines, cruise lines, hotels, casinos, major travel agencies, on-line travel companies and tour operators) with respect to federal and state travel advertising regulations and assist clients in connection with defending DOT compliance investigations and enforcement actions/civil penalty proceedings.

    Obstruction Evaluation

    We have extensive experience in FAA obstruction evaluation and airspace analysis for structures located near airports. We regularly work with airspace engineers, developers, and the FAA to develop alternative air traffic procedures and mitigation measures to address FAA-related air traffic concerns.

    Mergers & Acquisitions

    We have experience providing regulatory due diligence on mergers and acquisitions involving aviation interests and regularly advise clients on DOT and FAA aspects of restructurings in bankruptcy proceedings, mergers/acquisitions, and certificate transfers. We also regularly provide advice to clients on DOT foreign ownership and economic requirements and FAA requirements.

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