Author Archives: Mark E. McKinnon

Mark E. McKinnon

About: Mark E. McKinnon

Mr. Mark McKinnon has worked for over 27 years in all areas of aviation and transportation law, including litigation, appellate, regulatory and other administrative matters. He has written and spoken extensively on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and aviation matters. In addition, he is co-editor of the Plane-ly Spoken blog, which is dedicated to providing up-to-date news, analysis, and opinion on issues that affect the aviation industry.

In the Third Circuit, Preemption Does Not Mean Preemption

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has once again considered whether state law tort claims based on defects in aviation products are preempted by federal law. This time, in a 2-1 decision, the court ruled that an engine manufacturer can be sued over a defective product design even though the aircraft’s design was approved by the FAA and the components had a valid type certificate. Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corporation, No. 17-3006 (October 25, 2018).

Posted in FAA \ Leave a comment

Thank You For Attending The FAA Reauthorization Act Webinar

Thank you for joining us for our webinar: The FAA Reauthorization Act: What is in it and what does it mean for you? We had a great turnout and appreciate your continued support of our Aviation Webinar Series. If you missed this webinar and would like to view the slides or listen to the presentation you can find them here. Please be on the lookout for the next Webinar on Pipelines and the SAFETY Act: Limiting Your Liability.

Posted in General, Webinars \ 1 Comment

The FAA Reauthorization Act: What is in it and what does it mean for you?

Note: Given the previous delays from Capitol Hill, we have postponed the below webinar on the FAA Reauthorization Act several times. On October 4, we will cover the Act as it stands as of the date of the webinar, regardless of where it is in the process. It’s that time of year, and Congress is once again attempting to pass a comprehensive reauthorization for the FAA. The difference this time around is that it’s almost certain to pass. The House of Representatives decided to strip out the most controversial parts of the 21st Century AIRR Act and, after a flurry …


Today’s FAA Reauthorization Act Webinar – moved to Sept. 19th

Everyone – Once again, the general optimism that the Senate finally had its act together and was going to vote on FAA Reauthorization has given way to disappointment.  Despite numerous aviation groups writing Senator McConnell urging quick action, there is still no vote scheduled.  According to recent reports, the process is still mired in “behind the scenes” partisan wrangling over efforts to address non-aviation issues in this must “pass bill,” such as mandatory trucker rest periods and President Trump’s tariff authority. Because of all of these delays, LeClairRyan will be postponing its free webinar on the FAA Reauthorization until September 19, 2018.  …


The SAFETY Act and Horizon Air

A few days ago, Richard Russell, a 29 year old airline ground employee, got in a 76 seat commercial aircraft and took off from a crowded airport. Many people expressed surprise that he was able to accomplish this feat given the complexity of a modern commercial aircraft, noting that even starting the engines is a multistep process.  In addition, he showed a fair amount of skill in flying the aircraft.  Despite this, it appears he had no training in commercial multiengine aircraft and little, if any, formal pilot training. In this instance, the troubled young man may have been suicidal, …


Thank You For Attending the Waivers, Exemptions, and Certification Webinar

Thank you for joining us yesterday on our webinar: Waivers, Exemptions, and Certification: How to get permission to do what you want with your Unmanned Aircraft. We had a great turnout and appreciate your continued support of our Aviation Webinar Series. If you happened to miss this webinar and would like to view/listen to the Presentation you can find it here. Please be on the lookout for our next Webinar on The FAA Reauthorization and What it Means for You, scheduled for later this month.

Drones: A Uniformly Bad Law

Anyone who operates a regional or nationwide business knows that coping with a patchwork of state and local laws can be challenging. Fortunately, the states also realize that this can be a problem, and will sometimes cooperate to voluntarily establish a “uniform” law.  For example, in 1952, a group of top legal scholars from the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) got together and drafted the Uniform Commercial Code.  This code has been adopted (with some variations) in every state, and has greatly improved predictability for business owners. Over the past five years, most states have enacted …


Posted in General \ Leave a comment

Ten Years Later and $30 Million Less: SEATAC is NOT Vicariously Liable

The Washington State Supreme Court issued its long awaited decision in Afoa v. Port of Seattle today.  The Court rejected a lower court decision that had the effect of making an airport automatically liable for the negligence of an airline’s contractors, such as ground handlers.  LeClairRyan Aviation attorneys were called in after the unfavorable result in the Court of Appeals and counsel worked on, with the assistance of the preexisting counsel, the appeal before the Washington Supreme Court.  Mark Dombroff executed the oral argument.

Posted in General \ Leave a comment

“Congress Kicks the FAA and our Webinar Down the Road…..Again!!”

The seemingly endless FAA reauthorization process looks like it will continue for yet another month.  At the beginning of May, it looked like the bill had finally generated enough momentum for easy passage in the Senate.  The House had already dropped its controversial plans for privatization of air traffic control and passed their version of the Reauthorization Act by a wide margin.  The Senate put their version of the bill on the calendar on May 8, and it appeared to be on an easy road to passage in June. Unfortunately, the Senate never got around to taking up the measure.  …


Posted in General \ Leave a comment

Drones – The Supreme Court and Judge Kavanaugh…Plane-ly Spoken Weighs in!

What can drones tell us about Supreme Court Justice nominees?  It turns out, quite a bit. Earlier this week, President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to fill the seat vacated by Justice Kennedy.  In his prepared remarks, Judge Kavanaugh stated that “a judge must be independent, and must interpret the law, not make the law.  A judge must interpret statutes as written . . . .”  In order to determine whether Judge Kavanaugh lives these words, or merely pays them lip service, we have to look at …


Posted in General \ Leave a comment