In January 2007, an Adam Air Boeing 737 plunged into the sea in central Indonesia in stormy weather after issuing distress signals. All 102 people on board were killed. Families whose loved ones have died or are injured in aeroplane or helicopter accidents are advised to contact an aviation lawyer.
It is in situations such as these that an experienced aviation attorney can be of help.
Aviation law is concerned with flight, air travel and associated legal and business concerns. Some of its area of concern overlaps with that of admiralty law. In many cases, aviation law is considered a matter of international law due to the nature of air travel. However, the business aspects of airlines and their regulation also fall under aviation law. In the international realm, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) provides general rules and mediates international concerns regarding aviation law. The ICAO is a specialised agency of the United Nations.
The damages vary widely among states and countries, with some jurisdictions only permitting recovery of financial losses and others recognising the need to compensate for the grief involved in the death of a loved one.
What do I have to do?
Airlines, airports, aeroplane manufacturers and governmental agencies have the duty to protect the safety and security of passengers. Aviation lawyers are committed to representing the interests of victims in aviation disasters and in ensuring that passenger safety and security is the aviation industry’s main priority.
Aviation lawyers litigate aircraft accident cases. They represent passengers and persons injured in aircraft accidents and the families of loved ones involved in an accident. They are committed to upholding the rights of aviation disaster victims and promoting aviation safety.
Representing clients in aviation cases requires specialised knowledge of international aviation law, as well as a keen understanding of the relevant laws and regulations of each country.
For accidents involving international flights, the Montreal Convention applies. The passengers’ travel itinerary becomes important in these cases and one should preserve all the travel documents for possible use in a lawsuit.
In most cases, the core team of experts includes a metallurgical-failure analyst, an accident reconstructionist and a certified airframe and power plant mechanic. Your lawyer may also hire a pilot or flight-systems expert, depending on the case. Other experts who can help your team may include damage witnesses, such as experts on “pre-impact terror”, burns and smoke inhalation and economic losses.
Some additional areas of expertise needed are:
- aircraft certification and airworthiness of aircraft, engine and component parts
- aircraft electrical and wiring systems and fuel and propulsion
- avionics (radio or global positioning system instrumentation), aeronautics (use of gyroscopes and other self-contained apparatus) and flight instrumentation (radar, altimeter and digital gyroscope)
- manufacturing processes, material strength and structural fatigue and integrity
- vibrational or torqueing issues and welding and metal properties
- l weather and meteorological issues.
Aviation lawyers provide the best representation and support possible for their clients. They regularly communicate with their clients and work closely with them throughout the litigation process. These lawyers work as a team, drawing upon their combined knowledge, training and skills.
Aviation law firms handle several aviation cases, including commercial aircraft disasters, general aviation accidents and military mishaps. You may practise with a firm of aviation lawyers or work as a legal advisor in an airline company.
Some well-known aviation law firms are Lieff Global,which has successfully litigated against many of the world’s largest commercial airlines and aircraft manufacturers, including Boeing and Airbus; The Krause Law Firm; Beaumont and Son; Clyde and Co; Slack and Davis and Wolk Law Firm.