Business Aviation Transactions

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Our business aviation practice encompasses the full range of transactional and regulatory issues affecting corporate aircraft owners and operators. We represent a wide variety of clients, both foreign and domestic, ranging from major Fortune 100 companies to private individuals in aircraft sale, purchase, lease, fractional ownership, management, and finance transactions. Some of our clients own a small fractional interest in an aircraft, while others have large flight departments, and still others are air carriers operating for the public. The aircraft they operate range from small turboprops to large commercial aircraft. We assist clients in negotiating and documenting a host of contractual matters faced by every aircraft operator and owner, charter operator, management company, and fixed-base operator (FBO).

Business aviation is a highly regulated, multibillion-dollar industry that can be, at times, counter-intuitive even for a sophisticated owner or operator. Owners who create special purpose entities in order to shield themselves from liability may find themselves operating an illegal air charter service. Even seemingly minor infractions of the federal aviation regulations can put an owner in violation of its insurance policy. Owners who acquire aircraft out of state to avoid sales tax still find themselves paying the taxes at home with penalties and interest. Each decision can have significant consequences. Managing this environment requires advice from lawyers with extensive knowledge of the wide range of laws and regulations and a thorough understanding of the industry that constitutes business aviation.

Our business aviation lawyers have specific knowledge to address the complex business, regulatory, and tax issues related to aircraft ownership, leasing, financing, and operations. Whether acquiring a first aircraft or auditing the practices of a longstanding flight department, our broad experience enables us to effectively identify significant issues and to develop creative, practical solutions to aviation-related problems.

We provide advice on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) compliance, on personal use of aircraft and related reporting and disclosure issues, and on income, sales, use, and excise tax issues affecting aircraft operations and corporate flight departments. We assist in structuring and managing clients’ aircraft operations to comply with applicable FAA, DOT, IRS and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requirements. We also represent clients with respect to DOT, FAA, TSA, and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) matters, including security issues, enforcement matters, and airport and noise issues. For many clients, we monitor and report on industry and regulatory developments that may affect them.

Our extensive experience is a valuable resource for anyone involved in business aviation. Recognized as some of the top aviation lawyers in the United States, our practitioners are actively involved in speaking and writing on aviation topics as well as contributing their knowledge to FAA rulemaking committees, aviation associations, and industry seminars. Our lawyers have held positions at the Department of Transportation (and its predecessor the Civil Aeronautics Board) and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Some of our lawyers also own and operate their own aircrafts and act as FAA-certified flight instructors.

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Crowell & Moring LLP is an international law firm with offices in the United States, Europe, MENA, and Asia that represents clients in litigation and arbitration, regulatory and policy, and transactional and corporate matters. The firm is internationally recognized for its representation of Fortune 500 companies in high-stakes litigation and government-facing matters, as well as its ongoing commitment to pro bono service and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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