Aviation law refers to laws applying to everything from airport safety regulations to licensing requirements for pilots and aircraft maintenance. You’re undoubtedly familiar with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from your trips through the security lines at LAX, SFO or any of California’s many airports. These federal agencies, along with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), are responsible for enforcing many of America’s current aviation laws. Whenever there is an airplane crash or another aviation safety incident, it’s the NTSB that conducts a detailed investigation to determine the incident’s causes and future recommendations for prevention.
What authority do states have to pass aviation laws?
California and other states typically have almost no direct authority to pass laws in this area unless the state law either directly supports or decidedly does not contradict any federal aviation law already on the books. However, zoning laws as they relate to local airports and laws related to noise pollution from airport operations can vary by state.
Common cases involving aviation law
Certainly, aviation law comes into play after an airplane or a helicopter accident. The pilot, airline company, or private aircraft owner involved in the accident will sometimes find themselves facing civil litigation.
In addition, many aviation law cases can center on compliance issues related to state and local regulations. Furthermore, some aviation lawyers specialize in contract disputes, licensing arrangements, and leasing negotiations.
Typically, at least one partner of a top aviation law firm will have hands-on experience as a pilot. Such experience lets the attorney analyze a case from multiple perspectives when negotiating a settlement in the case of civil litigation or a compromise in an aviation contract.