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A site devoted to aviation law, safety and security.

December 30, 2003

Negotiating Aviation Contract Terms

Recently, I was working with an FBO client of mine drafting a hangar lease.  I drafted a lease that included fairly one-sided provisions regarding insurance, indemnification, limitations of liability etc. (all standard provisions to protect a landlord's interests). After reviewing the draft lease, the client asked "What if an aircraft owner does not want to sign the lease with those provisions?" My not-to-helpful, lawyerly answer to that general question was "It depends."

An aircraft hangar lease is a contract. Contracts are agreements between parties. Sometimes they are negotiated quite extensively, and other times they are "take it or leave it" with little or no negotiation. In this case, my answer to the client's question was appropriate because it depends upon whether the client is willing to negotiate, and possibly remove some of the terms of the lease, or whether the FBO wants to retain all of the protections of the lease as drafted without any negotiation.

If the latter, then my answer is that the aircraft owner must sign the lease "as-is" or the FBO shouldn't rent the hangar to that owner. If the former, then the FBO needs to understand what each provision of the lease is meant to accomplish in order to determine from a business perspective whether it is willing to accept additional risk by deleting or revising certain provisions at the request of the aircraft owner.

In the end, the FBO and the aircraft owner will either agree to terms or they won't. Whether this occurs as a result of negotiation or on a "take it or leave it" basis is up to the FBO who has the hangar space.



Posted by Greg

December 23, 2003

Local Airplane Rides in Jeopardy

The FAA has issued Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Docket Number 4521 titled National Air Tour Safety Standards. The NPRM proposes limitations and restrictions on the ability of pilots to engage in charity and sightseeing flights. The NPRM appears to be a response to a number of sightseeing accidents involving Part 135 helicopter operators, but it's scope and impact as proposed will be much broader. However, if implemented as proposed, the airplane ride at the local airport may become a thing of the past.

Currently, local sightseeing flights for compensation are provided under FAR Part 91 pursuant to 14 CFR 119.1(e)(2). This FAR exempts sightseeing flights from the more stringent procedural and operational requirements of air carriers under FAR Parts 121 and 135. However, as proposed, the new rule would require that any operator providing sightseeing flights comply with more onerous operating and recordkeeping rules that are economically burdensome to the operator with little, if any, clear enhancement of safety. Interestingly, of the accidents cited in the NPRM, 9 of the 11 were air carriers already operating under FAR Part 135.

Although the proposed rule would amend 14 CFR to create a new part 136 including an exemption for Part 91 operators for charitable rides, it would restrict those to "4 events per organization per year with each event lasting no longer than 3 days or one event lasting 3 days or fewer". Again, with no direct correlation to, or impact upon, safety.

If the proposed rule is implemented, the operators willing and authorized to provide sightseeing and charity flights will certainly decrease. The airplane ride at the local airport that lit the fire of enthusiasm for aviation in many of us will be smothered. At this critical time in general aviation's history, we need to be removing impediments to becoming a pilot, not creating obstacles.

Comments to the rule are due by January 20, 2004. They may be submitted via the internet by going to http://dms.dot.gov/search and entering the NPRM docket number. You must then click on the comments/submissions button. Or via U.S.Mail to: Document Management System, U.S. Department of Transportation, Room Plaza 401, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, DC 20590-0001. You need to identify the docket number FAA-1998-4521 at the beginning of your comments, and submit two copies of your comments. Also, mark your envelope as follows: RE: Docket No. FAA-1998-4521; NPRM: National Air Tour Safety Standards.



Posted by Greg

December 22, 2003

Welcome to Aviation Law Discussions

As far as I know, this is the only blog on the internet solely related to aviation law issues. Welcome aboard! I hope you find these discussions interesting and helpful. For more in depth discussions of some of the issues appearing here, please refer to my Aviation Law Articles page or contact me directly.

Posted by Greg

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