Aircraft Accident Investigation and Litigation

  • Holland & Knight’s Aviation Team offers across-the-board experience in representing United States and non-U.S. airlines.
  • We are recognized for our substantial amount of experience as lead counsel in high-profile aircraft accident litigation and investigations.
  • Our ability to handle the complex claims in mass disasters is enhanced by our global reach.
  • For timely updates on aviation law, bookmark our Aviation Law Blog.

Over the years, Holland & Knight has probably done as much or more legal work for U.S. and foreign clients involving every facet of aviation as any other firm in the United States.

Representing You in Litigation and Crash Investigations

The single largest component of our aviation litigation practice is the representation of U.S. and foreign airlines, as well as manufacturers of corporate and military aircraft and components, in litigation arising out of aircraft accidents and in aircraft crash investigations of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Congress. In order to minimize likely conflicts, we purposely don't represent manufacturers of airliners in matters that might prevent us from acting adverse to those manufacturers on behalf of our airline clients.

Holland & Knight’s aviation lawyers also represent operators and manufacturers of aircraft and aircraft components in connection with general-aviation accidents involving various kinds and models of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.

Mass Disasters

One feature of airline crash cases is that they often involve multiple deaths and injuries. The experience and capability to handle the complex claims that result from such mass disasters are especially important in aviation cases. We also have served as counsel in non-aviation cases, such as hotel fires and widespread chemical exposure cases. Because of our size, we are able to mobilize a large number of experienced lawyers to deal with the problems arising out of a major disaster and the resulting claims and litigation.

In addition, we have devoted considerable time to advising airlines about the applicability of, and compliance with, the U.S. government's post-accident family assistance programs.

High-Profile Aircraft Accident Litigation Experience

Our experience in dealing with crash litigation and the investigations of the NTSB and the FAA is well known. In addition to smaller crash cases, we have been lead U.S. counsel for the defendant operator or manufacturer in investigations and/or litigation arising out of the following representative matters:

  • American Airlines Flight 383 uncontained engine failure and fire in Chicago
  • SpaceShipTwo crash in the Mojave Desert, California 
  • Arizin Ventures GIV crash at Bedford, Massachusetts
  • UPS Flight 1354 A300 crash at Birmingham, Alabama
  • Air Methods Eurocopter AS350 B2 crash near Mosby, Missouri
  • Gulfstream G650 crash at Roswell, New Mexico
  • AIRES Flight 8250 B737 crash on San Andres Island, Colombia
  • UPS Flight 006 B747 crash in Dubai 
  • Navy E-2C Hawkeye crash in the North Arabian Sea 
  • Air France Flight 447 A330 crash in the mid-Atlantic 
  • THY Flight 1951 crash in Amsterdam
  • UPS Flight 1307 DC8 accident at Philadelphia 
  • Air France Flight 358 A340 crash at Toronto 
  • American Airlines Flight 587 A300 crash in New York City 
  • September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center 
  • Air France Flight 4590 Concorde crash in Paris 
  • Aerocaribe Flight 7831 BAE J32 crash near Villahermosa, Mexico 
  • Executive Airlines BAE J31 crash near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 
  • EgyptAir Flight 990 B767 crash in Atlantic Ocean 
  • American Airlines Flight 1420 MD82 accident in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Air France/Tame Flight 422 B727 crash in Bogota, Colombia
  • Colgate BK117 helicopter crash in New York City 
  • Garuda Flight 152 A300 crash in Sumatra, Indonesia 
  • TWA Flight 800 B747 crash near Long Island, New York 
  • Airborne Express DC8 crash in Virginia 
  • American Airlines Flight 965 B757 crash near Cali, Colombia
  • National Helicopter Bell 206 crash in New Jersey
  • Atlantic Coast Airlines Flight 6291 BAE J41 crash at Columbus, Ohio
  • USAir Flight 405 F28 crash at LaGuardia Airport in New York City
  • USAir B737 and Skywest Metroliner collision at Los Angeles Airport
  • British Midland Flight 92 B737 crash near Kegworth, England
  • USAir Flight 5050 B737 accident at LaGuardia Airport in New York City
  • U.T.A. Flight 772 DC10 terrorist bombing over Niger, Africa
  • United Airlines Flight 232 DC10 crash at Sioux City, Iowa
  • American Eagle Flight 5452 C212 crash at Mayagues, Puerto Rico
  • American Airlines Flight 191 DC10 crash at Chicago
  • Pan Am B747 and KLM B747 collision at Tenerife, Canary Islands
  • Eastern Airlines Flight 66 B727 crash at Kennedy Airport in New York City

International Aviation Law

Our team has handled many hundreds of litigated cases involving international aviation laws, especially the Montreal Convention and its predecessors. On critical international legal issues, we have represented airlines and their organizations (IATA and A4A) in appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Maritime Laws

Our aviation lawyers have a great deal of experience in maritime tort law and have dealt extensively with international and national aviation and maritime laws that are applicable to a crash on the high seas or other navigable waters.

Related Aviation Litigation

The Holland & Knight aviation team defends airlines in cases involving smaller accidents, turbulence, pressurization problems, emergency evacuations, hijackings, false arrests, denied boardings, delays and cargo and baggage claims. We also defend against non-crash commercial claims, as we did for an airline sued by another airline that alleged improper engine maintenance. We also were successful as lead defense counsel for a national airline in nationwide privacy class action litigation.

Additionally, our aviation lawyers also represent airlines and manufacturers in connection with claims made against others. For example, we were lead counsel for Air France in its successful lawsuit against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for the destruction of a Concorde engine due to the aircraft's being struck by geese while landing at Kennedy Airport in June 1995.

Comprehensive Aviation Counsel

Our aviation lawyers have extensive experience in aviation matters not involving accident investigations and litigation, including:

  • safety risk management 
  • representation of airlines in traditional regulatory work such as rule-making, licensing and enforcement proceedings 
  • advice relating to airway bills and tickets 
  • labor and employment disputes 
  • contractual claims 
  • antitrust cases 
  • tax issues 
  • aviation insolvency/bankruptcy 
  • treaty rights 
  • aircraft financing