Find an Aviation Lawyer

Aviation law governs the operation of aircraft and the maintenance of aviation facilities. Statutes have been enacted and administrative agencies have been created at both federal and state levels to regulate air traffic. Congress can use its constitutional authority to regulate interstate and foreign commerce, which also allows them to enact laws concerning air navigation, such as the Air Commerce Act in 1926. The main source for aviation law is federally based; states are able to enact some of their own laws related to air travel, but are prohibited from regulating rates, routes or services of any air carrier that has been authorized by the Federal Aviation Act to give interstate air transportation.

The two most important players in aviation law are the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

The FAA is the main regulatory body for aviation safety and standards. It is the section of the U.S. Federal Government that is primarily responsible for insuring the safety of civil aviation. It also has enforcement powers, as well as the ability to issue and revise regulations related to all aspects of air travel safety, research, manufacturing, and navigation. The FAA is separate from, and independent of, the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board).

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

The National Transportation Safety Board ("NTSB") is an independent federal agency responsible for investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States. As well as aviation accidents, its jurisdiction also extends to train and other transportation vehicle accidents. The NTSB also issues safety recommendations to help prevent future accidents. They have also been known to send investigators overseas to serve as U.S. representatives in aviations accidents involving U.S. aircraft or wherever else it is requested by foreign governments. As well as serving overseas, the NTSB's investigators can also serve in a sort of “court of appeals” for pilots and other aviation workers against the FAA.

The major differences between the NTSB and the FAA are simply that the FAA is a section of the U.S. Federal Government and has enforcement and regulatory powers, whereas the NTSB is an independent federal agency not associated with the Department of Transportation and does not possess these powers, only those of recommendation and information.

Why you need an Aviation Lawyer
  • If you are considering purchasing an interest in a jet. This tends to be a multimillion dollar transaction and would require that you obtain specialized legal assistance before committing you or your company's funds.
  • The typical above mentioned transaction usually asks you to sign eleven different documents and having an aviation lawyer at hand who fully understands FAR part 91, and FAR part 135, can help prevent misunderstandings.
  • It's realistic to conceive that your aviation needs may change in the future and having an experienced aviation lawyer will know which provisions can be negotiated to protect your future needs and where you may need “escape clauses”.

By Elysse Kimberlin           

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