Our Aviation Group offers a unique suite of legal services to aviation businesses, including advising and serving aviation industry clients that are aircraft major component suppliers, Part 121 air carriers, Part 135 air operators, and aircraft buyers, sellers, lenders, borrowers, lessors, and lessees.
Over the years, our aviation clients have conducted activities in over 60 countries and on six continents. Our attorneys have developed working relationships with local experts to support acquisitions, divestitures, mergers, joint‑venture formations, leases, and financings throughout the world.
Examples of our aviation legal work, including some representative transactions and matters that we have handled as lead counsel, are set out below.
Acquisitions/Divestitures/Mergers of Aviation Companies and Assets
With extensive transactional and business law experience, our aviation lawyers have led significant business transactions involving businesses in the aviation industry, including:
- M&A counsel for purchaser to acquire Swiss‑based airline conducting cargo operations and unscheduled passenger flights with 21 fixed-wing aircraft.
- M&A counsel for purchaser to acquire 45% equity interest in established air cargo joint venture in the Far East, primarily in Thailand and Malaysia.
- M&A counsel for seller to divest a group of four airlines, two based in EU, one based in India, and one based in Thailand, which, together, four airlines provided a wide range of aviation services across the world with operations or corporate presence in nine countries: Thailand, India, Cyprus, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, and Bermuda.
Aviation and M&A counsel to fleet owner-operator of over 400 helicopters used for air medical transport in the following acquisitions:
- Sundance Helicopters, Inc., a helicopter tour operator with 20 aircraft based in Las Vegas, Nevada, which focuses primarily on Grand Canyon helicopter tours, but also helicopter services to support firefighting, natural resource agency operations, vertical lifts, aerial photography/motion pictures, news gathering, and aerial surveying.
- American Jets, Inc., a fixed-wing air ambulance provider based in Fort Pierce Florida, which operates a fleet of Learjet aircraft and provides worldwide air ambulance transport services.
- Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Inc., a helicopter tour operator with 24 aircraft based in Hawaii, which is one of the world’s largest aerial tour operators and is the premier helicopter tour company in Hawaii, offering a diverse portfolio of 12 scheduled tours on five of Hawaii’s six tourist islands.
Counsel in developing and implementing legal strategy and drafting documents to make strategic acquisitions of businesses engaged in developing and manufacturing nacelle and thrust reverser systems, helicopter components, engine parts, heat exchangers, and other aircraft components.
Aviation Finance and Leasing – U.S. and Cross-Border
Our aviation lawyers routinely advise buyers, borrowers, sellers, and lenders in all aspects of financed and outright purchases and sales of business-jet aircraft, commercial aircraft, and helicopters, including international transactions involving deregistration and export and import and registration and requiring International Registry filings under the Cape Town Convention.
Strategies for Owning and Operating Business Aircraft
We have developed corporate and tax structuring strategies for aircraft owners and operators that have effectively maximized aircraft use (for business and personal uses), while complying with FAA regulations and, often inconsistent, tax regulations.
Aviation MRO and Manufacturing Contracts with Customers and Suppliers
Our aviation lawyers offer a wide variety of services for aviation commercial contracts, including the negotiation of joint development and strategic partnership agreements, services and functions outsourcing agreements, and products, services, and resource procurement agreements. Our work for NORDAM alone includes primary legal responsibility for NORDAM's supply chain of 2,600 suppliers and NORDAM's Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) agreements for a large number of aircraft operators around the world.
We have extensive experience dealing with airframe and engine manufacturers and have successfully negotiated power-by-the-hour fleet maintenance programs, fleet operator agreements, and fleet maintenance authorization agreements.
Airport Lease & Use/Access Agreements
Our lawyers have solid experience in dealing with agreements and negotiations involving airport use, whether the airport is controlled by a municipality, by an airport authority, or otherwise. Our aviation lawyers are often supported by our environmental, regulatory, and real estate groups in airport-related matters.
Aviation Product Development Programs
DGS lawyers have successfully negotiated all legal aspects of intellectual property agreements with U.S., Canadian, German, French, and U.K. airframe and engine manufacturers for the development, certification, manufacture, and sale of the new nacelle and thrust reverser systems on regional jets and general aviation aircraft such as Dornier 328JET, Hawker 4000, Dassault Falcon 2000EX, Dornier 428JET, Gulfstream G200, Dassault Falcon SMS, and Gulfstream G500/G600.
We have also successfully guided MRO companies on legal aspects for development of new repair methods outside OEM manual limits and on obtaining PMAs when repair is not possible. Our work includes successfully negotiating repair-method licensing agreements with OEMs and successfully defending aviation companies against OEMs on the right to develop new repair schemes and obtain PMAs. We have also advised with respect to the development of new products for aircraft applications (fixed wing and rotorcraft) requiring STCs.
Government Contracting (U.S. and Foreign) for Aircraft Products & Services
Our team handles all aspects of prime government contracts and subcontracts from intake and processing to signature, and then flow down and legal performance throughout “life of the program.” We understand how government contracts differ from civilian contracts to assist our clients in gaining competitive advantages. We regularly advise on the myriad and ever-changing compliance requirements.
Litigation & Arbitration
As a law firm, we have tried many state and federal, civil, and criminal cases for clients of all sizes before juries, courts, arbitrators, and administrative hearings officers – in Colorado and throughout the nation. We have also conducted arbitrations in the U.S. and abroad. Our trial lawyers conduct litigation planning, all forms of pre-trial motion and discovery practice, mediation, and other alternative dispute resolution, trials, and appeals at all levels. We are proud of the substantial record of our trial lawyers – including many former prosecutors and public defenders – in trying lawsuits in front of juries and judges. Extensive jury trial experience gives DGS trial lawyers an advantage in preparing cases for trial and negotiating favorable settlements.
Our litigators represent clients in a variety of aviation disputes, including antitrust, bankruptcy, breach of contract, and intellectual property.