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What Is Aviation Law?

Aviation Law Legal Issues

Aviation law covers almost all legal issues affecting aircraft and airport operations, including aircraft navigation and maintenance, air traffic control safety, and pilot licensing requirements. Aviation law mostly operates at the federal level, with most aviation regulations and standards enforced by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which ensures airline passenger safety, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which investigates aviation accidents, also regulate aviation safety. International flights are also governed by international law and the laws of the individual countries that the flight passes through.

States have little authority to pass laws related to aviation. States may, however, pass laws that do not hinder federal laws, as well as pass zoning laws that dictate the hours of operation and the noise levels of local airports.

Terms to Know

  • Aviation - Of or relating to any vehicle or transportation that flies in the air
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) - A federal agency that governs aviation safety and issues regulates the airline industry
  • Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) - A federal agency that conducts security screening of passengers and baggage on commercial flights
  • Air Traffic Control - A ground-based communications system that oversees and directs airplane traffic at airports

For more legal definitions, visit the FindLaw Legal Dictionary.

Other Considerations When Hiring an Aviation Lawyer

When facing an aviation legal issue, it is best to hire an experienced aviation lawyer. Many aviation lawyers are also licensed pilots, and some formerly worked as commercial pilots for large airlines. Being represented by someone with hands-on experience can prevent misconceptions between you and your lawyer about aviation practices and regulations.

The aviation industry is heavily regulated, and many pilots, shipping companies, and corporations that regularly use air transportation may have trouble navigating the many rules and laws that are passed by Congress and imposed by federal agencies. As a result, many businesses and individuals hire aviation attorneys before legal problems arise.

If you or your business is facing an aviation legal issue, contact an aviation lawyer immediately to explore your legal options.

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