Jenner & Block

Commercial Aerospace: Compliance, Risk Management and Disputes

Commercial aerospace is highly regulated and constantly evolving.  Companies benefit from outside counsel who are immersed in the interconnected regulatory, legal, technical and operational issues that drive the industry.  Our practitioners have decades of experience solving problems for aerospace companies, successfully defending enforcement actions, winning victories in court and advising on cutting-edge aerospace issues.

We represent manufacturers, repair stations, and aircraft operators in matters involving issues of regulatory compliance, product certification and conformity, risk management, warranties, export control, HAZMAT, contract performance and tort liability as well as commercial litigation and arbitration.  We also advise and comment on notices of proposed rulemaking and airworthiness directives.  Our lawyers defend investigations by the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense and other federal agencies.  We also handle tort defense, commercial contract disputes, and international arbitrations, as well as counsel manufacturers, repair stations and operators with respect to transactional due diligence and issues facing foreign companies operating in the United States.

When a problem arises with an aircraft product, often companies face a mix of regulatory, liability, insurance and commercial issues.  Jenner & Block lawyers have substantial experience providing advice with respect to all of these regimes, which allows us to help our clients develop and pursue coordinated response actions.  When product difficulties or quality escapes take place, we help develop strategy, communications with customers and regulators, and product replacement programs and promulgate service bulletins, airworthiness directives and instructions for continued airworthiness.

We effectively communicate with personnel at all levels of our clients' organizations, working collaboratively to find practical business solutions to their problems.

Compliance
We help aerospace clients navigate the regulatory landscape by assisting them with:

  • Compliance reviews
  • Defense of enforcement actions
  • Regulatory interpretation
  • Representation to government agencies
  • Product certification
  • Development of corrective actions

Risk Management
Aerospace companies may be exposed to regulatory, tort, commercial, reputational and criminal risks. We:

  • Perform risk assessments;
  • Conduct confidential internal investigations;
  • Advise about mitigation, response activities, crisis management and communications;
  • Advise on voluntary disclosures, notice programs, recalls and product replacements; and
  • Assist with identifying and addressing risks before they ripen into problems.

Going beyond traditional legal counseling, we routinely provide substantive advice on matters such as process improvements, technical and operational issues.

Disputes
We have substantial experience handling disputes of all types for aerospace companies, including:

  • Defending tort actions ranging from international multi-jurisdictional litigation to state cases involving single aircraft accidents;
  • Handling commercial litigation and arbitrations arising in connection with contract disputes, product difficulties, or mishaps; and
  • Acting as national counsel to develop strategy, manage local counsel and experts, draft pleadings and briefs and coordinate discovery.

Value-Added Service
We have lawyers who are knowledgeable about the technical and operational aspects of a wide-variety of aircraft products, as well as product certification regulations, manufacturing quality standards and industry best practices.  As a result, we provide a value-added service that combines focused experience with a holistic view of a manufacturer's relationship with regulators and the industry as a whole.

We offer training programs tailored to the needs of commercial aerospace companies seeking to remain current or get ahead of regulatory and legal developments. These programs feature topics including:

  • Voluntary disclosure and safety reporting programs;
  • Instructions for continued airworthiness;
  • Emergency response plans;
  • Risk mitigation and compliance;
  • Regulations governing manufacturing and maintenance;
  • Quality escape case studies and lessons learned; and
  • Forthcoming regulations and future initiatives of the FAA and EASA.