Aviation INDUSTRIES

With offices in the United States, Europe and China, WilmerHale has one of the world’s premier aviation practices.

Our practice covers the panoply of regulatory, antitrust, corporate and litigation matters involving air carriers, airline alliances, airport operators, trade associations and civil aviation authorities. The firm has a wide range of industry-specific experience in strategic investments (including cross border), consolidation and the necessary regulatory approvals, issues arising from industry liberalization and bankruptcy proceedings.

The firm handles aviation matters for aerospace companies as well, from aircraft manufacturers to MRO providers to suppliers of aircraft parts and equipment. We represent such companies in licensing, certification and enforcement proceedings at the Department of Transportation/Federal Aviation Administration. We have advised clients on bilateral and multilateral aviation-related negotiations. We also have advised both private companies and government bodies on a variety of regulatory and transactional issues related to air traffic control. More broadly, we provide strategic counseling on legal and policy issues before US and European aviation regulators, as well as the US Congress and the European Parliament.

Our Aviation Practice Group attorneys have extensive industry experience and include former government officials.

With offices in the United States, Europe and China, WilmerHale has one of the world’s premier aviation practices.

Our practice covers the panoply of regulatory, antitrust, corporate and litigation matters involving air carriers, airline alliances, airport operators, trade associations and civil aviation authorities. The firm has a wide range of industry-specific experience in strategic investments (including cross border), consolidation and the necessary regulatory approvals, issues arising from industry liberalization and bankruptcy proceedings.

Read More
Heffernan, David

David Heffernan

Chair, Aviation Practice Group

+1 202 663 6360 (t)

david.heffernan@wilmerhale.com

Experience

In recent matters, our Aviation Practice Group:

  • Represented partners of a global commercial airline alliance in applying to the USDOT for expansion of a grant of immunity from US antitrust laws for the addition to the alliance of a major US airline. We also represented a US airline in connection with a review of the proposed alliance expansion by the US Department of Justice and a European airline in connection with a parallel review by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Competition.
  • Advised a European airline on corporate, antitrust and aviation regulatory law aspects of its recent acquisition of a substantial minority ownership interest in a US airline. The transaction represented the first major investment by an EU airline in a US airline following the signing of the US-EU open skies air transport agreement in 2007.
  • Provided US and European aviation regulatory and antitrust advice to a leading European airline in connection with the acquisition of another European airline.
  • Advised a foreign government with respect to the privatization, via asset sale, of its flag air carrier. We had primary responsibility for all corporate, international regulatory and other aspects of this complex transaction, which involved separate tenders for the airline and its ground handling and maintenance/repair businesses.
  • Assisted carriers in negotiating slot exchange agreements at London Heathrow airport.
  • Represented a US airline and a foreign air carrier in successfully appealing decisions by the Transportation Security Administration ("TSA”) requiring the carriers to pay millions of dollars in additional Aviation Security Infrastructure Fees.
  • Successfully represented a US airline trade group in appealing a New York statute requiring airlines experiencing extended pre-departure ground delays to provide passengers with specified amenities. The appellate court agreed with our argument that federal law preempts state laws relating to the service of any air carrier.
  • Advised on numerous business jet aircraft transactions for various of the firm’s corporate and private clients (including transactions involving the purchase or sale of companies or assets, including aircraft, the purchase and sale of individual aircraft, and fractional aircraft interests). We also advised clients on compliance with tax, SEC, and FAA regulatory requirements associated with the ownership and operation of corporate aircraft.

Publications & News

View

January 27, 2014

New US and EU Guidance on Interim Agreement for Iran Sanctions Relief

As we have discussed previously, on November 24, 2013, the United States and the other members of the P5+1 (United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China) reached agreement with Iran on the JPOA, an initial understanding on the disposition of Iran's nuclear program.

November 27, 2013

Understanding Iran Sanctions for US Business: The New Agreement Brings Some Change But Much is Left the Same

On November 24 in Geneva, the United States and the five other members of the P5+1 reached an initial agreement with Iran with the aim of ensuring that Iran's nuclear program will be entirely peaceful. Under the agreement, the United States and the EU will ease certain sanctions on Iran for a period of six months. However, this "limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible" sanctions relief means that US and foreign firms must closely monitor the implementation of the agreement.

August 30, 2013

NIST Issues Discussion Draft of Preliminary Cybersecurity Framework

April 5, 2013

WilmerHale Collectively Launches Cologne Compendium on Air Law in Europe

August 13, 2012

On August 10, President Obama signed into law another expansion of US sanctions against Iran and Syria that, most significantly, makes US firms liable for their foreign subsidiaries’ involvement in sanctionable activity in Iran and further subjects non-US firms and their corporate officers to possible US sanctions. The Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (“Act”), like its 2010 predecessor, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (“CISADA”), broadens the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 (“ISA”) by requiring the President to take action against non-US firms involved directly or indirectly in specified transactions with Iran.

March 29, 2011

Supreme Court Rejects "Bright-Line" Materiality Rule in Securities Cases

October 13, 2010

Multiple Claims Toward a Single Satisfaction: Interpreting the "Single Satisfaction" Rule with Respect to Bankruptcy Claims

April 8, 2010

Lufthansa Suit Tossed Without Leave to Replead

March 18, 2010

Chambers USA 2010 Honors WilmerHale, Ranking Over 100 Lawyers and Dozens of Practices

December 21, 2009

The Copenhagen Climate Change Agreement: Failure or Success? Next Steps and Key Considerations for Business

Recognition

Our Aviation Practice Group is headquartered in Washington, DC and chaired by Bruce H. Rabinovitz. Bruce was hailed as one of Washington's premier aviation lawyers by the American Bar Association's Air & Space Lawyer. Under Bruce's leadership, the group represents major international airlines (both passenger and cargo) in a variety of complex administrative, adjudicatory and enforcement matters in the United States and Europe, including compliance matters arising from antitrust and unfair competition laws. Our practice is distinguished by the close integration of our Washington, London, Brussels and Berlin offices, which enables us to provide coordinated advice on important legal and regulatory issues to airline clients on both sides of the Atlantic.

Legal 500 recognized the strength of our practice, saying "the firm's lawyers handle both small and large projects and are available day and night to clients." Michael Holter, Dieter Lange, Paul von Hehn and Stephen Doyle were specifically recommended, and the group was lauded for its "'unusually well-managed' projects, its combination of quality and cost, and its ability to meet tight deadlines on complex matters."

Legal 500 UK 2008 ranked our London aviation practice, and individually ranked Michael Holter, Dieter Lange and Lisa Tomas as "recommended" in the sector.

Chambers USA 2010 acknowledged our aviation group's regulatory practice nationally, and also individually honored Bruce Rabinovitz and David Heffernan as leaders in the field. We've received similar rankings in the past several years.

Chambers UK 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 ranked the group's regulatory and commercial practice for exceptional work and reputation, and said the group "maintains excellent links with the firm's international offices and the international markets, especially those in Europe." Michael Holter was individually recognized and Chambers said, "He is especially well versed in international, multi-jurisdictional regulatory and M&A matters."