Aviation Law Center

The US and other governments can regulate the use of navigable airspace above their territory.

Victims and their families often can sue for compensation when crashes result from avoidable errors.

Aviation crimes are usually prosecuted in federal courts and can lead to severe penalties.

Explorations of outer space have spurred debate over approaches to exploiting its resources.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Can I get off the plane if my flight has been delayed?
    You generally can get off the plane if your flight has been delayed on the tarmac for three hours or more. This time extends to four hours for international flights. However, this rule may not apply if the delay resulted from a safety issue, or if air traffic control determines that passengers should not leave the plane.
  • What compensation can I get for being bumped from an overbooked flight?
    If you agree to be bumped from an overbooked flight, you can negotiate with the airline for cash or a voucher. If you are bumped involuntarily from a flight, you may be entitled to at least 200 percent of the one-way fare for the flight if your arrival is delayed for at least one hour.
  • Why are small planes more dangerous?
    Small planes tend to be made from less sturdy materials, so they could be affected by weather conditions to which a large jet would be impervious. They have fewer layers of safety systems, so a single malfunction is more likely to cause a crash. Pilots also may be less experienced and less prepared for emergencies.
  • Why do helicopter accidents happen?
    Helicopter accidents often happen because of defective helicopter components, such as a part that was made with improper materials. A crash also may result from pilot error, inadequate pilot training, or improper maintenance of the helicopter.
  • Can the US take over the moon?
    The US cannot take over the moon, or any other planet or celestial resource. The Outer Space Treaty prevents any nation from appropriating property in outer space. All nations have equal rights to access, research, and develop outer space.
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Popular Topics
  • Passenger Rights Involving Cancellations and Delays
    In most cases, a passenger cannot sue an airline for delaying or cancelling a flight, although some situations involving "bumps" caused by overbooking may entitle a passenger to compensation.
  • Small Plane Accidents
    Crashes involving small planes may arise from problems such as defective components, pilot errors, or inadequate maintenance, and experts may need to investigate to determine who was at fault.
  • Helicopter Accidents
    Operating a helicopter involves significant risks, so accidents are far more common than plane crashes and are likely to cause serious injuries, for which a victim can pursue compensation.
  • Disturbances on Planes
    A dispute between a passenger and a crew member may rise to the level of a federal crime if the passenger interferes with the crew member’s ability to perform their duties.
  • Aircraft Insurance
    Aircraft liability insurance covers injuries or death to passengers or third parties, as well as property damage sustained by third parties, while hull insurance covers damage to the plane.
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