The firm's practice encompasses virtually every aspect of aviation law. We represent domestic and foreign airlines and groups of airlines, aviation trade associations, local and state airport authorities, aircraft and parts manufacturers, private owners, corporate flight departments, charter carriers, aircraft lessors and mortgagees, as well as financial institutions and other lenders.
Aircraft Airworthiness and Registration
The firm advises clients on U.S. and foreign aircraft registration requirements, including aircraft title and lien issues. Likewise, we provide counsel on airworthiness requirements (both original and continuing), including those involving aircraft import and export rules.
The firm provides assistance to airport operators, tenants and users on all aspects of local, state and federal law and regulations. This includes advice on federal funding issues, privatization, airport contracting and leasing matters, federal regulations, fees and charges, slot control and noise issues. The firm played a major role in the leading federal court case on the standards for structuring airport landing fees.
We have extensive experience advising airports on a broad range of regulatory issues, including grant applications under the Airport Improvement Program and other federal funding vehicles, airport grant assurances, passenger facility charges, airport emissions and environmental issues, emergency operations and firefighting requirements, rulemaking and agency policy matters, the handling of hazardous materials, passenger arrivals and processing (including Customs and Border Protection and Model Ports matters), airport security and perimeter control, TSA staffing and compliance, incentive programs, privatization and sale/leasing, signatory and non-signatory issues, master plan facilities planning, marketing and expansion of domestic and international air service, FEMA reimbursement, NEXTGEN implementation, capital planning, federal earmarks, FAA and DHS Reauthorization issues, operations requirements and safety, runway incursion matters, cargo arrivals and processing, airport concession contracts, FAA dispute resolution, airport bond and related taxation matters, air navigation hazards, competition plans and analysis, economic planning, and the many other challenges that airports face.
We have advised general airport tenants (car rental agencies, gift shops, restaurants, etc.) as well as aviation tenants (air carriers, fixed base operators, fueling services and corporate aircraft operators). We regularly counsel airport users (both commercial and private) on their rights and obligations in dealing with airport authorities and Federal agencies at airports.
Airspace Obstructions and Air Traffic Management
The FAA requires notice of any construction or alteration of an existing facility that might impede on the theoretical three-dimensional boundaries of an airport. The subsequent review process is critical to local zoning and related decisions. The firm's attorneys have been involved in a number of these matters, and successfully prosecuted a leading case limiting the authority of the FAA to make a "hazard" determination. We assist clients involved in all aspects of obstruction evaluation, such as FAR Part 77, and other local, state and federal requirements, including preparing and responding to filings with government regulatory agencies, particularly the FAA, Federal Communications Commission, and Department of Defense. Separately, the firm has extensive experience counseling clients on matters related to access at capacity constrained airports, including FAA slot allocations and air traffic control procedures.
Since deregulation of the airline industry in the U.S., the firm has worked closely with airlines and airports to provide advice on compliance with the antitrust laws. For several of our major clients, we have prepared comprehensive antitrust manuals designed to guide airline employees, from frontline employees to senior management, in antitrust matters. The firm has been involved in several of the airline mergers that have occurred in recent years.
The business aviation community encounters a unique intersection of regulatory, operational and tax considerations. Our lawyers assist clients in developing creative solutions to these issues as well as advising on ownership structures, citizenship concerns, insurance requirements and commercial relationships. These can include engaging an outside management company, charter operations, dry leases, and arrangements for maintenance, storage and refurbishment. Our clients are private individuals, family businesses, charter operators, and Fortune 500 companies who own whole aircraft, fractional interests, or use business aviation occasionally.
Corporate and Commercial Matters
The firm is experienced in negotiating and documenting commercial transactions for our aviation clients. The firm's attorneys represent clients in connection with the negotiation and documentation of aircraft leases, aircraft sales agreements, charter contracts, various forms of joint operating agreements and aircraft financing documents. The firm also regularly serves as special counsel in matters involving the registration of aircraft and the recordation of security interests in aircraft with the Federal Aviation Administration, and advises clients on compliance with the citizenship requirements of the Federal Aviation Act. We handle a full range of corporate matters, including those related to the inauguration of service, and continuing operations, to the U.S. We advise foreign air carriers on compliance with local requirements in connection with qualification to do business, licensing, and other legal requirements incidental to the startup of service to the United States.
Creditor & Bankruptcy
The firm advises clients on ways to protect their interests in the event of bankruptcy by aircraft lessees, major suppliers or travel agents. We have represented several airline clients in their bankruptcy proceedings. For example, we represented a major aircraft leasing company in a sale and leaseback transaction that was complicated by the existence of Federal loan guarantees and IRS tax liens. We also have advised clients on the availability of Section 1110 protection for their interests, and have represented creditors in various airline bankruptcy proceedings.
Members of the firm have experience in handling a variety of aviation-related matters before U.S. Customs & Border Protection. We have represented clients in seizure and forfeiture proceedings and in civil penalty/liquidated damage matters. We also have assisted airlines in obtaining international air carrier bonds and in participating in voluntary Customs programs, such as the Customs-Trade Participation Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program. The firm, moreover, counsels aircraft lessors on ways to protect their interests against possible forfeiture proceedings.
We provide assistance with the interpretation and application of international and domestic environmental standards particular to the aviation industry, including aircraft noise and emissions, hazardous materials, underground storage tanks, issues related to aircraft deicing and disposal of deicing fluids, airport conformity guidelines, airport groundwater issues, wetlands mitigation, airport recycling programs, airport ground support equipment emissions reduction, VALE grants, NEPA, airport environmental management systems, sustainability planning, and new initiatives such as the recent ICAO Climate Change Resolution and the Global Reporting Initiative. Our experience also includes advice in connection with the preparation of, and responses to, environmental impact statements and environmental assessments required by law, as well as compliance issues.
Export and Reexport Matters; Embargo and Foreign Asset Control
We advise clients on the scope of permitted exports and aircraft operations to countries that are subject to export and reexport controls as well as the scope of permitted transactions involving countries and entities that may be subject to foreign asset controls. The firm has significant experience with the U.S. sanctions program against Cuba. We have assisted airline clients in obtaining specific licenses from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in connection with their operations to sanctioned countries (including Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria), and we have defended clients in OFAC enforcement matters. We also assist clients with applications for U.S. Department of Commerce ("DOC") licenses that authorize the exportation of such U.S. commodities as: aircraft and aircraft parts; medicine; medical devices; agricultural commodities; and humanitarian donations.
The firm advises clients regarding compliance with the various requirements of U.S. immigration laws, and represents U.S. and foreign airlines in enforcement matters before U.S. Customs & Border Protection as well as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The firm has successfully handled numerous immigration appeals and customs enforcement matters.
We have extensive experience in international aviation matters, including application and interpretation of bilateral air services agreements. We also advise on multilateral agreements – existing and emerging – such as GATS, NAFTA, APEC and the recently concluded U.S.-E.U. air services agreement. ZS&R also advises clients regarding the numerous multilateral aviation treaties that affect our clients, such as the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions, the Convention on International Civil Aviation, the Cape Town Treaty, and the Convention on the International Recognition of Rights in Aircraft. We also advise clients with respect to aviation-related issues arising out of the activities of ICAO, IATA and the European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA). Our services on behalf of airlines and aircraft lessors extends to issues raised by foreign governments and regulatory agencies, including the assertion by foreign airport authorities of statutory liens for unpaid landing fees.
Investigations and Enforcement
We regularly serve as defense counsel for individuals and companies charged with violations of aviation related laws and regulations. Our representation in such matters ranges from informal negotiations with regulatory authorities to formal trial proceedings before administrative and judicial tribunals. Moreover, we advise businesses and individuals involved in investigative proceedings before the FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board ("NTSB") and other government agencies responsible for aviation enforcement.
Labor and Employment
We provide advice to aviation-related entities on a broad range of general employment matters, such as immigration and visa issues, employment-at-will, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, pregnancy and disability issues, AIDS, and the aviation industry-specific requirements for alcohol and drug testing. We also advise airports and other aviation entities regarding compliance with the TSA's requirements for employee background security checks. We have advised a number of companies in labor negotiations, arbitration, and labor-related litigation, and we have considerable experience in the unique aspects of aviation labor matters under the Railway Labor Act. In particular, the firm has significant experience in the integration of labor contracts following airline mergers.
The ever growing and changing aviation area produces constant legislative changes and we are engaged in a broad range of aviation-related legislative matters, including monitoring of legislative developments, drafting and preparation of testimony for Congressional hearings, liaison with Members and staff, arranging meetings with state Congressional delegations and Committee members, transportation appropriations issues, drafting and "shepherding" the passage of legislation, obtaining Congressional support for related endeavors (such as grant applications and support for regulatory efforts), preparing position papers, and assisting in the public relations aspect of Congressional relations. We also act as registered lobbyists for our clients as appropriate. Because the aviation industry is so heavily regulated, most often action on the Congressional front is intimately connected with regulatory developments and with aviation operational, safety and technical issues, as well as agency funding for aviation operations.
Lawyers in the litigation practice group handle a variety of aviation-related litigation for our clients, including contract matters, airline labor and employment litigation, and aircraft noise litigation. We frequently represent airline clients in disputes arising under aircraft leases and aircraft engine leases, in disputes relating to aircraft overhaul and/or repair, and in disputes with travel agencies and marketing representatives. We also handle a broad range of matters before the Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration, including complaint and enforcement matters and other adversary proceedings.
Manufacture and Repair
We assist clients with type certification ("TC") and supplemental type certification ("STC") for aviation products from the FAA, European Joint Aviation Authorities ("JAA") and European Aviation Safety Agency ("EASA"). Our work also includes matters related to repair station certification (both U.S. and foreign), parts manufacturing approval ("PMAs") and Technical Standards Orders ("TSOs"). We advise parties to business transactions involving repair stations and PMAs on compliance with both U.S. and foreign law.
The firm provides advice on all aspects of air carrier certification under DOT's economic regulations, and FAR Parts 121 and 135, as well as obtaining operations specifications under FAR Parts 119 and 129. We also counsel clients on activities conducted under other operating rules, particularly non-air carrier operations (FAR 91), parachuting activities, and balloon operations. Moreover, we represent holders of FAA and foreign airman certificates on matters before civil aviation and safety organizations, and we provide advice on operational considerations arising out of aircraft leasing, time share, and other commercial arrangements. The firm also has experience in flight school certification matters. We also provide advice on issues such as airport operations requirements, airspace management, slot allocation, air traffic and flow control, airport and airline physical security and threat assessment, communications and navigation, rotorcraft operations, flight crew standards and requirements, and special operating rules.
Regulatory and Administrative
The members of Zuckert, Scoutt & Rasenberger regularly appear before a variety of federal administrative agencies having jurisdiction over aviation matters. The firm handles all forms of licensing matters for U.S. and foreign clients before the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Treasury, the Department of State and the Department of Commerce. In connection with counsel for other merger parties, the firm obtained approval for one of the largest mergers in the history of U.S. aviation, and regularly advises clients on matters involving acquisition of control of air carriers. The firm also handles a variety of aviation compliance and enforcement matters, and we regularly advise clients on ways in which to structure their transactions to satisfy the citizenship and control requirements of the Transportation Code and Exon-Florio amendments. The firm also frequently serves as special counsel in matters involving the registration of aircraft and the recordation of security interests in aircraft with the Federal Aviation Administration. We also advise clients on important issues of topical concern, such as FAA policy on wet leases, as well as new entrant access at capacity constrained airports in the U.S., including slot allocations and transfers.
Our in-depth experience also extends to reporting requirements, route selection proceedings, DBE/MBE issues, essential air service questions and applications, alliances and code-share issues, intermodal services, general aviation and business aircraft issues, advertising matters, disability access issues, rates and charges, computer reservations systems, air service development, civil penalties and enforcement, military base closing issues, airport sales and leases, surplus and non-surplus property issues, security matters, wetlands mitigation, passenger manifest reporting, rotorcraft issues, loan guarantees, air carrier family assistance plans, international certification issues, and disaster and emergency planning. We also advise clients regarding the modernization, funding, and improvement of the civil aviation infrastructure, including air traffic control, and airport privatization in its many forms.
The tragic events of September 11, 2001, added several new layers of regulation to the transportation industry. The firm quickly addressed these issues. In February 2002, the firm sponsored the first significant national symposium on the new Transportation Security Administration. We represent clients on matters pertaining to FAA, TSA, and international aviation security issues, counseling businesses and airports on security plans, and conducting compliance assessments. Our work in this area often includes advising clients on airport and aircraft physical security requirements and threat assessments.
We offer our aviation-related clients a full range of tax services. This includes structuring aircraft transactions to minimize federal and state taxation and advice concerning qualification of aircraft transactions as finance leases and related tax indemnification issues. We have also advised a major foreign carrier on U.S. taxation of investment income from surplus U.S. funds, taxation of U.S. based foreign employees of an overseas carrier, and litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court involving state taxation and domestic interstate air carriers.
Zuckert, Scoutt & Rasenberger represents a number of airlines in trademark matters, both in the U.S. and abroad. Representation ranges from advising both domestic and foreign companies prior to development and use of a mark, to registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, protection of marks abroad, and trademark litigation.