Aviation Regulatory

Why Cooley

Regulatory Agencies 

They practice in federal and state courts and represent clients before multiple regulatory agencies including:

  • Department of Transportation
  • Federal Aviation Administration
  • Department of Justice Antitrust Division
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Transportation Security Administration
  • Department of State

Department of Transportation

Economic Regulation

Our lawyers practiced before the Civil Aeronautics Board prior to deregulation in the airline industry, and, with the transfer of economic regulatory functions to the Department of Transportation, Cooley has been active in all phases of DOT proceedings, ranging from M&A to formal enforcement and certificate proceedings.

We have worked on a variety of matters, including:

  • Licensing new startup carriers, such as Morris Air, JetBlue Airways, SkyBus and Swift Air.
  • Assisting air carriers that have had their certificates noticed for revocation and/or revoked by the Department of Transportation.
  • Obtaining operating authority to foreign countries for our clients in contested and uncontested proceedings.
  • Licensing foreign air carriers for operations in the United States and internationally.
  • Advising clients before the DOT's Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings in investigations of alleged violations.

Foreign Ownership & Control

The requirement that a US air carrier be a "citizen of the United States" continues to be an important aspect of an air carrier's regulatory compliance program. Our lawyers have been on the cutting edge of this issue for years. When one of our clients sought approval of a new financing plan, Cooley lawyers persuaded the Department of Transportation to make a major modification to established standards for interpreting the citizenship requirement for US carriers. Congressional interest in the issue has resulted in Cooley engaging in extensive work before the relevant committees in both Houses of Congress. We advise both domestic and foreign interests with respect to this issue.

Department of State

Our lawyers represent carriers and other interests in bilateral and multilateral negotiations of aviation matters between the United States and various foreign countries. Projects involving bilateral issues include: 

  • Operating rights to Australia, China, Japan and New Zealand.
  • Charter rights to Japan.
  • Bilateral negotiation issues before the Department of State and Department of Transportation dealing with countries such as Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and the Philippines.

Federal Aviation Administration

Our lawyers include a licensed commercial, multiengine, instrument-rated pilot. We have advised clients on a variety of aviation-related issues, including:

  • Part 121 operation issues.
  • Drug and alcohol testing matters.
  • Enforcement proceedings.
  • Engineering, unapproved parts and maintenance issues.
  • Airport access problems.
  • Operating restrictions for part 135 operators.
  • Aircraft management and operating agreements for general aviation clients.

We also have been active on the issue of slot availability at certain high-density airports and the Federal Aviation Administration's regulation of these slots. In 2000, Cooley helped JetBlue obtain the largest slot allocation for a new entrant carrier ever, facilitating the launch of the airline. We have continued to represent JetBlue in connection with its efforts to acquire slots, including at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, where JetBlue initiated service in November 2010, and LaGuardia Airport in New York.

Our lawyers have considerable experience in handling FAA enforcement and letter of investigation proceedings, including proceedings where the government has sought civil penalties exceeding $1 million. We have been successful in either securing dismissal or reducing air carrier liability by significant amounts. A recent case resulted in the FAA withdrawing its enforcement action after completion of its inspector's deposition.

Our clients include:

  • US and foreign airlines
  • Air taxis
  • Aircraft owners, lessees and brokers
  • Airframe and parts manufacturers
  • Fixed-base operators
  • Charter operators
  • Airline Tariff Publishing Company

Issues that our lawyers work on include:

  • Unmanned Vehicles Systems
  • Capacity purchase agreement
  • DCA slot exemption allocation proceeding
  • Air carrier codeshare (domestic and international)
  • International pricing counseling
  • Extended tarmac delay rule
  • Equipment maintenance agreements
  • Flight and duty time rulemaking
  • Compliance with full fare advertising rules
  • FAA and DOT enforcement
  • Bilateral issues for Asian, African, Caribbean, Central American and Latin American countries
  • DOT and FAA civil penalties
  • Charter contracts
  • Software contracts
  • Antitrust issues in the United States