Aviation Law

Aviation law governs all facets of air travel. It impacts those parties that provide air travel services, such as airlines, pilots, maintenance crews, security personnel and air traffic controllers. It also affects those that purchase air travel services, such as passengers and couriers.

Federal Aviation Law

In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) serve as the primary federal agencies that regulate air travel.

  • FAA. The FAA issues and enforces regulations on the manufacture, operation and maintenance of aircraft. The FAA also certifies pilots and airports, and provides navigation and air traffic management services to civil and military aircraft.
  • NTSB. The NTSB investigates all civil aviation accidents in the United States and issues safety recommendations to prevent future aviation accidents.
  • TSA. Created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the TSA checks baggages and screens passengers for security threats.

State Laws

Although states cannot regulate rates, routes, or services of carriers, they may enact their own laws that are consistent with federal aviation law.

International Laws and Organizations

Because of the international nature of air travel, countries have entered into conventions to normalize the laws that regulate airlines and set forth the rights of passengers. For example, the Warsaw Convention limits the liability of airlines for accidents on international flights, except where the airline engaged in willful misconduct.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) also regulates air travel by providings general rules and mediating international aviation law disputes.

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  • The Drone "Waiver" of the Future July 26, 2017 Jonathan D. Ash writes: The FAA has recently partnered with various digital platforms to create the "Low-Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability" (LAANC) in an effort to streamline waiver authorization in controlled airspace. Normally, the…
  • United Airlines Announces New Plan for Overbooked Flights July 26, 2017 After a series of hits in the news, United Airlines has unveiled a new plan for dealing with overbooked flights. All airlines overbook, and there is nothing illegal about it, but airlines' bad methods for dealing with it has made recent news. This is…
  • United Airlines Boots Two Year Old from Seat July 26, 2017 When will the airlines get it together? In the latest gaffe by a major carrier, United Airlines apparently kicked at fare paying two year old out of his seat to make room for a stand-by passenger. The child's ticket reportedly cost almost $1000. And,…
  • Judge's Ruling Allows Germanwings Crash Lawsuit to Remain in U.S. July 25, 2017 Share This Item A federal judge ruled late last week that the family of two victims from Virginia who perished in the 2015 Germanwings crash can sue the airline in the United States. Last Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee ruled…
  • New FAA Guidance Could Affect Parts Related to Engines and APUs: Open for Comment July 24, 2017 The FAA has published a draft AC for comment. It interprets 14 C.F.R. § 25.901(c) to require an analysis of uncontrollable high engine thrust/power (UHT) failure conditions. If applied to PMA applicants, this could be a tremendous new burden.…