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Aviation and Aerospace

Thompson & Knight attorneys have counseled and represented diverse segments of the aviation and aerospace industries for many years. Our clients include major air carriers, aviation insurers, civilian and military airframe and component parts manufacturers, aircraft owners, operators, and pilots, covering all aspects of aircraft development and operation.

Overview

Thompson & Knight attorneys have counseled and represented diverse segments of the aviation and aerospace industries for many years. Our clients include major air carriers, aviation insurers, civilian and military airframe and component parts manufacturers, aircraft owners, operators, and pilots, covering all aspects of aircraft development and operation.

We represent major air carriers in federal and state court multi district litigation and NTSB investigations arising out of domestic and foreign air carrier accidents and serve as lead trial counsel during liability and damage trials arising out of these accidents. The Firm also represents manufacturers of aviation products in litigation arising out of allegations of defective products and represents aircraft insurers, owners, operators, and pilots in aviation-related litigation. We have represented air carriers, airframe manufacturers, and ground-equipment manufacturers in intellectual property disputes concerning patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets.

In addition, we regularly advise and represent aviation industry clients in corporate, commercial, contractual, and operational matters, as well as regulatory and administrative matters and disputes, such as insurance coverage matters and disputes; environmental investigations; and general labor, union, and employment issues. For example, we have counseled clients regarding:

  • Negotiation over the lease of airport property;
  • Bidding for airport goods and services;
  • Environmental issues resulting from airport operations, including de-icing and underground storage;
  • Cybersecurity and misappropriation issues concerning unauthorized access of airline fare information;
  • Development of baggage-handling equipment;
  • Design and construction of rental car facilities at airports; and
  • Purchases and sales of aircraft, including purchases of fractional interests, leasing of aircraft, and addressing ownership structure issues.

Thompson & Knight attorneys represent aviation interests in FAA administrative matters, including:

  • Awarding landing slots and the transferability of landing slots;
  • Leasing of gate space at airports;
  • Alleged violations of hazardous material regulations regarding air transport;
  • Special orders in connection with the review of type certificate of aircraft;
  • Challenges to FAA requests for information during type certification and complaints about actions of FAA personnel in connection with type certifications;
  • Sale of surplus airport property acquired with the use of government funds administered by the FAA;
  • Challenges to the value and situs of aircraft for property tax purposes; and
  • Challenges to the imposition of property tax on simulators and other assets.

Recognized as a “Recommended Litigation Firm” in Texas in Benchmark: Litigation, The Definitive Guide to America's Leading Firms and Attorneys

Experience

  • Defended a major U.S. air carrier in a seven-day jury trial, securing a verdict of no negligence on the part of our client; case involved a heart attack and allegations of failure to resuscitate a passenger on a plane at Chicago O’Hare Airport
  • Obtained an important appellate decision on behalf of a major U.S. air carrier in a case arising out of an accident involving a flight at Denver International Airport; plaintiffs sought to depose our client’s then-Chairman and CEO about the accident, the trial court ordered a deposition, but the court of appeals agreed with our mandamus petition, holding that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering the deposition
  • Represented a major air carrier in litigation brought by families of deceased crew members of an international airline arising out of a foreign accident
  • Represented a fixed-base operator and leasing agent in a dispute with a large international aviation insurance company in federal court
  • As lead counsel for a major commercial air carrier, defeated by summary judgment a claim for punitive damages asserted against the airline in conjunction with a major air crash; judgment was later affirmed by a federal appellate court
  • Represented a major air carrier as lead counsel in federal MDL litigation and in cases in courts of two different states arising out of a domestic airline accident during a flight operated by another airline under a codeshare agreement; the representation included serving as lead counsel on liability issues and as trial counsel for several personal injury and wrongful death claims filed by passengers and their survivors
  • Defended a major air carrier in multiple lawsuits involving alleged patent infringement relating to online ticketing systems
  • Represented a major air carrier in federal multi-district and state court litigation arising out of a domestic airline accident; our representation included serving as lead counsel on liability issues and as trial counsel on numerous personal injury and wrongful death cases filed by passengers and their survivors, several of which were tried to jury verdict
  • Represented an international developer and manufacturer of airport baggage-handling equipment in multiple lawsuits involving alleged misappropriation of trade secrets in the equipment designs
  • Defended a major air carrier in litigation alleging defamation, business disparagement, and tortious interference arising out of the termination of a mail handling contractor
  • Represented an aircraft maintenance company as lead trial counsel in a multi-death aircraft accident case involving allegations of faulty maintenance and misrepresentation; after discovery, a settlement was reached for less than 10% of the amount claimed
  • Represented a major U.S. air carrier in personal injury litigation filed by several passengers claiming they were denied assistance during boarding
  • Represented the owner of a Boeing 727 in a multi-million-dollar federal court suit against the seller of the aircraft for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of warranty, and other claims
  • Represented a major air carrier in litigation to prevent unauthorized data-scraping of carrier’s website and in litigation against multiple companies infringing carrier’s trademarks in false advertisements
  • Represented leading defense contractor in litigation concerning an alleged failure to adequately compensate inventor of technology incorporated into military aircraft avionics equipment
  • Represented a national banking association as owner trustee in litigation between the buyer of commercial aircraft and the bank/sellers
  • Represented a large manufacturer in its negotiations with the City of Austin, Texas regarding construction of addition to Austin’s Bergstrom International Airport
  • Represented a Brazilian privately-held company in the restructuring of its debt with a Canadian aircraft manufacturer
  • Advised a major air carrier based in Brazil on a parts management agreement