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McBreen & Kopko’s Aviation Group represents domestic and international clients on a broad range of regulatory, commercial, business, and technical matters. Many of our lawyers have worked as in-house counsel at major airlines, regional carriers, and fixed base operators. Our experience and extensive knowledge of all aspects of the aviation industry enable us to provide comprehensive, cost effective services to our clients, including: 

  • Airlines
  • Airport managers
  • Business aircraft owners and operators
  • Charter operators
  • Equipment manufacturers
  • General aviation airports
  • Management companies
  • Repair Stations

Areas of Expertise: 

We represent clients on a full range of legal issues confronting aviation industry stakeholders, including matters involving the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Commerce (DOC), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and Department of State (DOS), as well as Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Treasury Department Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). Our attorneys and consultants have extensive experience in drafting proposed laws, regulations, and policy statements related to aviation matters, and we regularly monitor legislation, regulations and rulemaking activity, and policy statements issued by executive departments and administrative agencies.

Administrative Enforcement Actions
Our services include defending our aviation and other transportation clients against administrative enforcement actions and civil penalty proceedings initiated by federal agencies. We understand the implications and practical ramifications of a civil penalty or proposed disciplinary action initiated by a federal agency. We have successfully defended our clients, including pilots, mechanics, and other individual certificate holders; Part 121, Part 125, and Part 135 air carriers and air operators; Part 145 repair stations, and other aviation-related businesses against proposed civil penalties and other actions. We assist clients during each stage of the administrative adjudication process: investigation; issuance of the notice of action or penalty; informal resolution; a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ); and any subsequent appeals.

Aircraft Registration
McBreen & Kopko assist domestic and international clients with a variety of aircraft registration matters and International Registry issues. We provide guidance and assistance to clients in setting up ownership trusts, statutory trusts and complex leasing structures in accordance with14 CFR Part 47. We coordinate with the FAA Aircraft Registration Branch and foreign government agencies with respect to aircraft registration and deregistration and the associated import and export issues.

Our services include representing secondary and general aviation reliever airports on issues such as airport privatization, grant assurance compliance, international air service, slots, revenue retention, rates and charges, collateral land use, congestion, finance, noise abatement, environmental, competition and litigation matters.

Dangerous Goods and Hazardous Materials Transportation
We advise clients regarding interpretation of and compliance with the federal regulations governing the transportation of hazardous materials by highway, rail, vessel, and air. We have successfully defended many businesses, including air carriers, air operators, and surface transportation companies against civil penalty actions brought by PHMSA, FMCSA, FRA, FAA, and USCG for alleged violations of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR), 49 CFR Parts 1–185, including violations relating to hazardous materials classification, packaging, hazard communication, emergency response information and training. Our attorneys have experience helping consumer product manufacturers, chemical manufacturers, airlines, freight forwarders and transporters, and others resolve hazardous materials transportation issues. We also research, review, submit, and monitor PHMSA Special Permit & Approval applications on behalf of our clients.

Economic Licensing
Our services include assisting airline clients and on-demand air taxi operators in applying for certificates of public convenience and necessity, and foreign air carrier permits, preparing and submitting applications for new routes and other operating authorizations for domestic and international airline clients, drafting applications and responsive pleadings for slot exemption proceedings, preparing responsive pleadings to other air carrier requests for competing international and domestic authority, negotiating codeshare arrangements involving strategic marketing alliances among domestic and international carriers, and defending and settling administrative enforcement proceedings including civil penalty actions. In addition, we counsel clients on the preparation, filing, and legal implications of wet leases and public charters.

Operator Authorizations and Approvals
We facilitate operator authorizations and approvals for 14 CFR Part 91, 121, 125, 129 and 135 clients. Our attorneys prepare and facilitate applications for DOT and FAA regulatory approvals/exemptions for foreign and domestic air carriers, air operators, and general aviation owners and operators. We also work with foreign airlines seeking the necessary certifications to start and maintain continuing service to the United States. We provide assistance to foreign and domestic air carriers and air operators on issues relating to the operator’s Operations Specifications (OpSpecs). We also help clients with customs bonds, international noise regulations, and security requirements.

Aircraft Finance & Acquisition
McBreen & Kopko attorneys have extensive experience in the regulatory and corporate law aspects of aircraft sales, purchases, fleet acquisitions, and leasing structures. We assist our clients with financing (including pre-delivery financing) of new and used aircraft, engines and parts, lease financing, sale-leasebacks, leveraged transactions, receivables financings, progress payment facilities, aircraft registration matters, and compliance with applicable airworthiness and safety regulations. We also handle the complex legal aspects of cross-border financing lease transactions and asset securitizations, including those involving export credit agencies. We analyze and prepare feasibility reports on aircraft operating structures, including fractional ownership and other alternative ownership arrangements.

Corporate & Commercial Matters
Our attorneys provide legal services regarding commercial and general business matters and often function as U.S. general counsel for many of our aviation clients. We assist clients with a wide range of commercial issues and agreements, including office and airport leases, construction contracts, ground and ramp handling agreements, catering contracts, fuel agreements, and advertising contracts. We understand the unique issues facing corporate flight departments, charter operators, aircraft management companies, manufacturers, and airports, and we offer a wide variety of services to our clients, including the negotiation and drafting of airport leases, permits and related agreements, contracts with commercial vendors, handling and fueling agents, general sales agents, freight forwarders, shippers, office lessors, banks, and others; representation in connection with commercial disputes and their resolution; representation in connection with major passenger and shipper claims (including litigation where appropriate); and advice regarding air carrier bankruptcies.

In addition, we regularly negotiate and document complex transactions for our U.S. and foreign clients, including mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, stock sales and purchases, joint ventures, strategic alliances, and private equity investments. We also handle general corporate matters for clients with respect to formation, fictitious name registration, maintenance, and governance of U.S. corporations, limited liability companies, and partnerships.

McBreen & Kopko attorneys advise clients on the selection, clearance, registration, maintenance, and enforcement of trade and service marks in the U.S. and in foreign countries. We provide advice on infringement matters from the prospective of both defending proprietary trade brands and asserting rights against unauthorized third parties, and are experienced in negotiating and drafting licensing agreements.

In addition, we assist clients in organizing, developing, and managing their portfolios of intellectual property, including domain names and copyrighted material. We regularly provide legal advice to marketing and advertising departments, when asked to act as outside general counsel for companies that do not have their own legal department or trademark counsel.

Our attorneys represent clients during all phases of litigation and appeals before state and federal courts, administrative agencies, and arbitration tribunals. We handle litigation in multiple states defending airlines, aviation businesses, insured parties, insurance companies, and self-insured entities. Our practice includes defense litigation in the areas of product liability, transportation, litigation, medical malpractice, premises liability, employment law, and other aviation-related litigation.

Bankruptcy & Creditors’ Rights
Our bankruptcy attorneys are experienced in handling a broad spectrum of issues arising in aviation bankruptcy proceedings, and we have provided legal counsel in all the major air carrier bankruptcies during the last decade, including foreign airline bankruptcies filed under Chapter 15.

We provide advice to creditors on filing and preserving their secured and unsecured claims, and handle various matters during the course of the bankruptcy case, including motions to vacate the automatic stay and to compel assumption or rejection of executor contracts as an adjunct to the enforcement of creditors’ rights. We analyze preference exposure and available defenses to preference actions and fraudulent conveyance claims that may be brought by the debtor.

We assist aviation service industry clients by both enforcing and defending their rights as creditors and parties to executory contracts and leases. We negotiate and litigate issues pertaining to the assumption or rejection of executory contracts and leases for non-residential real property, defending claim objections, acquiring critical vendor status, asserting and enforcing administrative claims and reclamation rights, and enforcing the terms and conditions of pre-petition contracts and leases post-bankruptcy filing. During the course of the bankruptcy case we also assist in providing general oversight and review of the plan formulation and confirmation process to preserve and protect our clients’ rights.

Finally, and just as importantly, we provide good practical advice on how to structure commercial agreements and terms of payment to eliminate or minimize the effects of air carrier or other bankruptcies on our clients.

Technical Consulting
McBreen & Kopko attorneys and consultants provide a variety of technical consulting services to public and private sector clients. We regularly assist clients with the development and documentation of policies and procedures to document compliance with applicable regulations. Our consultants draft guidance material (including Orders, Notices, Advisory Circulars, and Policy Statements), operating manuals, training programs, and other supporting technical documents for federal administrative agencies, including the FAA.

We provide consulting services to airlines, air operators, and program managers applying for certification under 14 CFR Part 91K, 121, 125 or 135, as well as foreign air carriers seeking certification under 14 CFR Part 129.  Our consultants work with airlines and air operators on the implementation of Pilot Records Improvement Act of 1996 (PRIA) compliance methodologies. We work with operators adopting and integrating Safety Management System (SMS) principles and those seeking authorization to operate within Special Operations Area (SOA) airspace (e.g., NAT MNPS, RVSM, and RNP/BRNAV), by assisting these clients with the preparation and submission of the application package. On behalf of clients, we also facilitate operational and airworthiness approvals with the client’s FAA jurisdictional oversight Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) or International Field Office (IFO)/International Field Unit (IFU).

Our consultants also work with clients on airworthiness certification issues, aircraft certification, international aircraft certification and design and production approvals.  We work with aircraft and engine manufacturers, as well as other design/production approval holders and engineering firms on obtaining a variety of certifications and approvals.  We assist clients by facilitating the application process with the appropriate Aircraft Certification Service (AIR) directorates or field office (Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), Manufacturing and Inspection District Office (MIDO), or Manufacturing Inspection Office (MIO)) for:  type certificates (TC), TC validation, supplemental type certificates (STC), technical standard order approvals (TSOA), and other design and production approvals.  We also help aircraft operators, maintenance providers and 14 CFR Part 145 repair stations with obtaining special flight permits, applying for special flight authorizations and questions regarding compliance with airworthiness directives (AD), including facilitating requests for approval of an Alternate Method of Compliance (AMOC) in accordance with 14 CFR Part 39.


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