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Thomas A. Zimmer
Aviation, Aerospace & Transportation
Pillsbury's Aviation, Aerospace & Transportation practice is consistently ranked in the top tiers by both 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 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 US and international 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:
Our regulatory practice covers administrative adjudication, rulemakings, legislation, enforcement, air service negotiations, antitrust, environmental, export licensing, immigration, customs and tax matters, as well as airline safety, regulatory and aircraft certification matters, accident investigations, and employment matters.
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 experience with issues relating to service of process and discovery abroad, jurisdiction over foreign entities, forum non conveniens, and multi district litigation.
Much of our aviation work involves 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 was also honored to be named “Aviation Law Firm of the Year” in 2008 by ACQ Finance magazine.
We represent cities and airport authorities on issues such as privatization, Part 13 and Part 16 proceedings, international air service, slots, revenue retention, rates and charges, collateral land use, environmental law, congestion, finance, competition and litigation matters. In addition, we have represented secondary and general aviation reliever airports on noise abatement and other matters. We have participated in virtually every bilateral air service negotiation over the past decade between the U.S. and its major aviation partners, including the EU, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan and the United Kingdom.
Air and Cargo Carrier Representation
Pillsbury assists domestic and foreign airlines and cargo carriers with contract negotiations and commercial agreements and in disputes between airlines and tour operators, cruise lines, hotels and casinos. We represent airlines with DOT, FAA, TSA, Customs, and Immigration regulatory issues.
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.
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.
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.
Our aviation privatization team includes a unique combination of all of the disciplines necessary to structure, finance, negotiate and document an aviation privatization project. We believe that no other firm can match our blend of project finance, public finance, capital markets and aviation/airport experience, which is critical to the successful privatization of an airport, airline or other aviation-related entity.
Corporate Aviation Practice
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 for flight departments, management companies, charter operators, fractional ownership programs, and individual owners.
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.