Background - Practices (Details)

Aviation Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Crowell & Moring's lawyers have substantial experience handling complex commercial, product liability, tort, and insurance litigation, as well as alternative dispute resolution proceedings in the United States and internationally. We combine the experience of lawyers who are leaders in the field of aviation law with the know-how and resources of an established international litigation firm.

We represent aviation clients in complex products liability and negligence cases, litigation involving wrongful death claims, the defense of antitrust claims, Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) enforcement actions, and commercial disputes. Our practitioners also handle aviation-related terrorism and security cases. We are frequently involved in cross-border and multijurisdictional matters. Our lawyers are experienced in handling issues such as choice-of-law, jurisdiction, forum non conveniens, the Federal Tort Claims Act, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, and various international treaties, including the Warsaw Convention and the Montreal Convention.

Our lawyers also have extensive experience working closely with major insurance companies in connection with the defense of underlying claims against policyholders and the analysis and litigation of complex coverage issues on behalf of insurers.

From the litigation of individual matters to multijurisdictional proceedings warranting international coordination, we have the knowledge and depth to meet our aviation clients' objectives. Our lawyers have extensive experience in managing and directing high-stakes, discovery-intensive cases, as well as using computers and technology for litigation purposes such as electronic discovery, document management, and trial practice. We also offer a track record of successful negotiation and settlement of complex disputes on terms favorable to our clients.


  • Defended a Fortune 50 company in a multidistrict proceeding involving about 90 separate product liability and negligence lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania arising out of the 1998 crash of Swissair Flight 111 off the coast of Nova Scotia, as well as in a similar multidistrict litigation stemming from the 1990 crash of EgyptAir 990 into the Atlantic Ocean
  • Represented Deutsche Aerospace in the crash of a JPATS prototype aircraft during test flight in Germany
  • Represented a French helicopter manufacturer in product liability suits throughout the United States
  • Represented Caribbean Airline in a wrongful death claim arising out of a crash in the Caribbean and involving complex issues under the Warsaw Convention
  • Represented foreign airlines in cases arising out of major accidents including Avianca crash in Long Island, N.Y., Aeroperu crash in Peru, LOT Polish Airlines crash in Warsaw, China Airlines crash in Hualien, and Indian Airlines crash in Ahmedabad
  • Represented an aircraft component manufacturer in briefing that persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to approve and define the "government contractor defense" against product liability claims
  • Represented the Regional Airline Association in connection with aviation security cases pending against airlines in which we negotiated a historical global settlement that resolved the cases for a fraction of the fines originally proposed by the FAA
  • Represented the commuter affiliate of a major airline before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to uphold a U.S. DOT decision confirming the right to operate aircraft with fewer than 56 seats between Dallas Love Field and any point in the United States
  • Represented a trade association before DOT and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to oppose a landing fee scheme for Boston Logan International Airport in which the court upheld DOT's decision that the scheme was invalid and — as a result of this landmark airport fees case, the fees paid by aircraft operators were reduced
  • Defended a major U.S. airline against consumer claims of unfair and deceptive practices and addressing inquiries and actions by the DOT assistant secretary for aviation enforcement and proceedings
  • Represented a major U.S. airline in a lawsuit on alleged violations of the Air Carrier Assistance Act and DOT's passenger access regulations
  • Defended a major U.S. aerospace company against State Department administrative charges arising from the alleged unauthorized transfer of technical data and performance of defense services in connection with satellite launch in China
  • Represented major airlines in federal court against a nationwide class of airline passengers alleging "price signaling" and other tacitly collusive practices by the eight major U.S. airlines through use of computer reservation systems — the case was settled on favorable terms with our clients achieving the lowest settlements among the defendants
  • Represented families of the victims of the 1989 bombing of a jumbo jet over the Sahara Desert, killing 170 passengers and crew, against the Government of Libya, resulting in the largest judgment in a contested terrorism case against a foreign sovereign
  • Defended a fixed base operator in an FAA enforcement action involving allegations of improper maintenance record keeping
  • Represented maintenance personnel of a U.S. airline before the FAA for alleged violations of safety regulations
  • Represented corporate clients employed by a client's flight department in an FAA enforcement action against them for an alleged runway incursion
  • Represented an airline trade association in the successful challenge of FAA flight and duty time rules