Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP https://shackelford.law Law Firm - Dallas, Nashville, Fort Worth & Austin Fri, 09 Apr 2021 16:53:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.6.2 Will The FAA Accept My Application For Registration? https://shackelford.law/news-aviation/aviation-law-articles/will-the-faa-accept-my-application-for-registration/ https://shackelford.law/news-aviation/aviation-law-articles/will-the-faa-accept-my-application-for-registration/#respond Fri, 09 Apr 2021 16:53:20 +0000 https://shackelford.law/?p=3379 The post Will The FAA Accept My Application For Registration? appeared first on Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP.

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In order for the FAA to accept an application for aircraft registration submitted by an aircraft owner-applicant, the applicant must comply with the registration requirements of 49 U.S.C. 40102(a)(15) and 44102.  Applicants must also comply with 14 C.F.R. Part 47.
The applicant requirements vary somewhat depending upon whether the applicant is an individual, a partnership, a corporation, a limited liability company etc.  If the applicant is unable to satisfy the requirements, the FAA will not accept an application for registration from the applicant.
Here is a short summary discussing a few of the types of applicants and applicable FAA registration requirements:
Individual
An individual is eligible to register an aircraft if the individual is a U.S. citizen or a resident alien.  This means a warm body, not an entity that might otherwise be considered a person under the law.  Pretty straightforward.
Partnership
Two types of partnerships may be eligible to register an aircraft:  (1) a general partnership; or (2) a limited partnership.  A general partnership is an association of at least two or more individual persons to carry on a business for profit.  A limited partnership may include one or more “general partners” and any number of “limited partners.
Under 14 C.F.R. § 47.7(d), a partnership is eligible to register an aircraft if all of its partners are individuals who are U.S. citizens. Here again, “individual” person means a warm body, not an entity such as a corporation that may otherwise be considered a “person” under the law.  Also, a resident alien may not be a member of a partnership.
Although many states also recognize limited liability partnerships or registered limited liability partnerships, these entities are treated like any other partnership.  So, they must include only individual members who are U.S. citizens in order to register an aircraft.  Similarly, in order to be eligible for registration, a limited partnership must be comprised entirely of individual U.S. citizens.
However, most limited partnerships are formed with limited partners, who may be individuals or entities, and a general partner that is usually an entity rather than an individual (for liability protection purposes).  As a result, limited partnerships do not usually satisfy the citizenship requirements for registering an aircraft.
Corporation
U.S. Citizen Corporation:            Under 14 C.F.R. § 47.2(2), a corporation is eligible to register an aircraft as a U.S. citizen if:
  1. it is created or “incorporated under the laws of the U.S., or any State, Territory, or possession of the U.S.;
  2. the corporation’s president and two-thirds or more of its Board of Directors are U.S. citizens, and;
  3. at least 75% of the voting interest in the corporation is owned or controlled by U.S. citizens.
In this situation, the FAA wants to ensure that the corporation is actually controlled by U.S. citizens.  But what happens is the corporation satisfies items (1) and (2), but it does not meet the 75% quota?  Under 14 C.F.R. § 47.8 the corporation may still be able to qualify as a U.S. citizen if it uses a voting trust which appoints a voting trustee (who must be a U.S. citizen) to exercise the voting rights necessary to satisfy the 75% quota.
Non-Citizen U.S. Corporation:    If a corporation is incorporated in the U.S. but does not meet the citizenship requirements for registration, under 14 C.F.R. § 47.9 that non-citizen corporation may still be eligible to register an aircraft.  The corporation must:
  1. be lawfully organized and qualified to do business under the laws of the U.S. or any State, Territory, or possession of the U.S.; and
  2. certify that the aircraft is based and primarily used in the U.S., meaning at least 60% of the aircraft’s total flight hours during each six month period after application must be within the U.S. Flight hours must be for non-stop flights between two points within the U.S., although the aircraft may be outside the U.S. during part of the non-stop flight.
Limited Liability Company
Each member of a limited liability company (“LLC”) must qualify as a U.S. citizen.  The members need not be individuals.  However, if one of the members is another LLC, that LLC must also qualify as a U.S. citizen.
If all of the individuals or entity members are not U.S. citizens, in order for the LLC to satisfy the citizenship requirement, two thirds of its officers/managers must satisfy U.S. citizens and 75% of the voting interest of the LLC must be controlled by individuals or entities meeting U.S. citizenship requirements.
Although an LLC may not create a voting trust to qualify for citizenship, a member of an LLC may use a voting trust to qualify for citizenship by assigning the member’s voting or management rights to a trustee who qualifies as a U.S. citizen.
Co-Owners
Co-owners may be comprised of individuals, including resident aliens, partnerships, corporations, LLCs, and others who are eligible applicants.  As long as each co-owner is separately eligible to register an aircraft then the co-owners may together apply for registration.
Trusts
A trust may be used to register an aircraft in a variety of situations.  Often a “non-citizens trust” is used when the applicant does not qualify as a U.S. citizen but still wants to register the aircraft with the FAA.  Sometimes a trust is used for estate or tax planning purposes.  Trusts are a useful tool, but because the details and nuances of using a trust for aircraft registration purpose can be complicated, that discussion will have to wait for another day.
Conclusion
Applying for registration of an aircraft with the FAA can be tricky.  You need to ensure that the FAA will accept your application and register the aircraft.  Understanding the FAA’s requirements can help you avoid some of the “gotcha’s” that can cause problems for an aircraft owner trying to register an aircraft with the FAA.  If you have questions or need help determining whether you are eligible to register your aircraft with the FAA, please contact us.

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Attorneys Should Avoid Any ‘One-Size-Fits-All’ Approach in Texas Winter Storm Claims https://shackelford.law/news/attorneys-should-avoid-any-one-size-fits-all-approach-in-texas-winter-storm-claims/ https://shackelford.law/news/attorneys-should-avoid-any-one-size-fits-all-approach-in-texas-winter-storm-claims/#respond Mon, 29 Mar 2021 21:36:46 +0000 https://shackelford.law/?p=3374 The insurance industry is processing an unprecedented amount of claims following the brutal winter storm that slammed through most of Texas last month,…

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By Kenneth Artz and Mark Moore | March 17, 2021 | Law.com | Texas Lawyers


Father John Szatkowski of St. Paul The Apostle Church sweeps water from a broken water line out of his church in Richardson, Texas, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. Father Szatkowski and his staff found the flooding as they prepared for Ash Wednesday services. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The insurance industry is processing an unprecedented amount of claims following the brutal winter storm that slammed through most of Texas last month, says Bruce Wilkin, a partner in the Houston office of Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton LLP where he represents clients at both the trial and appellate level in commercial, energy, environmental, and first-party insurance disputes.

“Several adjusters have equated this to a major hurricane hitting every major town in Texas on the same day,” Wilkin said. “As a result, insurers have likely adopted an “all hands on deck” approach to try and cover the onslaught of claims.”

Read the full article on Texas Lawyer

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Finding Growth in a Changed World https://shackelford.law/news/finding-growth-in-a-changed-world/ Mon, 08 Mar 2021 18:10:51 +0000 https://shackelford.law/?p=3371 NAFA member, David Mayer, Partner at Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP, shares his perspective of business aviation amid the pandemic.

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david mayer attorney lawyer at shackelford law firm

NAFA member, David Mayer,  Partner at Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP, shares his perspective of business aviation amid the pandemic.

Shifting markets are creating new opportunities in a world altered by COVID-19. Here are some to consider.

WITH EVERY NEW YEAR COME HOPES FOR A BETTER WORLD, and 2021 is fairly bristling with them. Of particular relevance to equipment finance companies is the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation’s 2021 Equipment Leasing & Finance U.S. Economic Outlook, which forecasts 7.8% growth in equipment and software investment this year, and 4.7% growth in the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. Heartened by plans for widely distributed vaccines against COVID-19, industries and the companies within them are re-tooling to apply permanently many of the technologies and efficiencies necessitated by the pandemic. Equipment Leasing & Finance spoke to leaders in several equipment sectors experiencing changes that are leading to growth.Here’s what we learned:

 

There’s a Window in Trucking 

Howard Shiebler is President of Crossroads Equipment & Finance LLC and Chairman of Velocity SBA, both in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Financing commercial trucks for transportation companies gives him a strategic view of one of the largest and most dynamic sectors in equipment finance. “We’re in an abnormally strong market now, both with values and the demand for tractors and trailers,” he says. “For those financing in this space, new business volume is up and repossessed inventory is selling quickly, and at good prices.”

The big question is how long current conditions will last. Increased consumer spending, much of it done online, helped freight markets recover quickly from initial pandemic shock. If economic recovery continues, Shiebler expects the strong transportation market to last well into 2021.

“Additionally, manufacturers of trucks and trailers have had their supply chains and work forces impacted by the pandemic, and the corresponding shortage of new equipment has driven demand and prices for used equipment to unusually high levels,” Shiebler notes. He adds, “I think some e-commerce-driven demand will become permanent, and manufacturers will eventually catch up with market demand, leading to a more typically cyclical transportation finance market.”

Nonetheless, Shiebler says equipment finance companies must still do a thorough job of underwriting in the space or risk getting into trouble. “When the economy slows, we’ll see freight rates drop, defaults increase and used truck prices drop fairly quickly,” he warns. “Lenders that understand this cycle underwrite to it, and they also properly staff collections and remarketing operations to deal with increased defaults.”

 

Healthcare Providers Want More Options 

Jon Biorkman is President of Healthcare Financial Services at GE Healthcare. As the dynamics of the medical equipment market change, he sees healthcare providers revisiting budgeting, capital structure and other fundamentals of corporate finance to re-evaluate strategy and develop multiple scenarios for use in times of economic uncertainty.

“To account for variability, leadership teams are examining operating and non-operating cashflows, liquidity sources and cash on the balance sheet,” says Biorkman. “And as market dynamics continue to change, we’re bringing optionality to the table. This can be in terms of structure that allows for the deferment of a more permanent position, or increased liquidity to protect against unpredictable variability in patient volumes, payors and reimbursement trends.”

One such option is an escrow agreement that pre-funds capital for future equipment acquisitions. “The benefit is to lock in interest rates today, and secure capital for upcoming needs,” says Biorkman. Another option shortens the lease term, enabling equipment usage without full capital outlay.

“Creativity is something that matters to customers, and if we look at the market we’ve been operating in, it’s been incredibly dynamic,” Biorkman observes. “We view our role as providing customers with options for a future that may not be certain. We’re having candid conversations with them, being very grounded as it relates to financial projections—where they were before, where they are now, where they’re going. Liquidity and cash on the balance sheet have always been important, but today, customers are placing a premium on both—and alternative financial structures can really provide more tools.”

 

Aircraft Has Pockets of Promise

David Mayer, Partner at Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP, in Dallas, says the COVID crisis created a potential cash crunch for some owners of aircraft, and that a significant number of these are refinancing or entering into sale-leasebacks to cash out their equity in the equipment. “This is a global phenomenon, also driven in part by lower interest rates,” says Mayer. The upshot: opportunities exist in sale-leasebacks for those able to take residual risk, not just in tax leases, but in true or operating leases.

Mayer says there are also leases in which the credit advanced is fully paid out and the asset is sold for a purchase price at the end, which can be as low as $1 or another agreed price. “These deals have been active since the emergence of the pandemic and since rates have dropped,” he says. “I expect this trend to continue into 2021.”

Mayer has handled a number of such transactions and sees a particular market for the refinancing of larger jets with a value of $7 million or more. “One challenge for equipment finance companies will be to persuade customers that they won’t suffer ‘brain damage’ from engaging in a financing transaction,” says Mayer, tongue in cheek. “I say that because, compared to purchasing or borrowing, leasing is a more complex transaction.” Another deterrent among high-net-worth individuals and companies is pride of ownership and reluctance to use a financing product or allow a lessor or lender to control use of their aircraft.

“Make no mistake, the market is under stress and the pandemic is not helping,” Mayer cautions. “Companies that buy, lease or charter aircraft are leaving the business. But financiers are ready, able and willing to finance, and are doing more secured loans than true leases because they’re unable or unwilling to take the risk on the value of these assets.”

The aircraft market was on a downslope that started in 2019, and prices dropped another 10 to 15% at the start of COVID-19 before showing later indications of stabilizing. “But owners didn’t panic and sell; they were smart enough to stand by and wait—unlike what happened in 2008,” says Mayer. “Now equipment finance companies can provide these owners with smart and viable solutions in the form of true leases, tax leases, loans and sale-leasebacks.”

 

Small Businesses Need Your Capital

Marlin Capital Solutions provides equipment financing, working-capital loans, vendor financing and franchise financing to approximately 100,000 small businesses throughout the U.S. Thus, the company’s portfolio is a small-business index for sentiment and economic health, and CEO Jeff Hilzinger says the pandemic put the company “right at the center” of the 2020 economic storm.

“After ensuring the safety of our employees and the stability of our financial portfolio, we transferred people from our front office to our servicing team and immediately began reaching out to customers,” says Hilzinger. “We processed almost 6,000 requests for payment relief, most of them during April and May. And because we own a bank, we have an SBA license and were able to lend under the PPP program. We quickly created a platform to do that. Along with the payment relief we were providing, our goal was to preserve as much liquidity for our borrowers and in our own portfolio as possible.”

As Marlin helped its customers, the company also saw an opportunity to help itself. “The PPP platform we obtained was digital, and we’d always known we needed to become more digital,” says Hilzinger. “Once we took care of our employees, partners and customers and saw that the pandemic would last a while, we realized it could be a crisis of opportunity for us. We decided to dramatically accelerate our digitization and have been focused on it since June.”

In 2015, the New Jersey-based, small-ticket Independent had introduced a working-capital loan product to compete against fin techs. “We were always careful with it, because it hadn’t gone through a complete business cycle,” says Hilzinger. “But it turns out that the product performed much better than we expected, so now we’re redoubling our efforts
with it.”

Because the small-business market resides next to the consumer market, Hilzinger says much of what consumers do with their personal credit can be projected for use in small business. “Once customers can access us digitally, we’ll be able to offer lines of credit and other micro-ticket products that were too much work to provide when our processes were manual,” he says. “Now we can offer these in ways that will be exciting to small businesses, and of economic benefit to us. Going digital definitely opens up new opportunities.”

 

Schools Urgently Need IT 

Insight Financial Services (IFS) in Costa Mesa, California began studying the nuances of the k-12 school market about six years ago with the goal of doing business there. Through networking, they were introduced to OETC, an Oregon-based consortium that offers contracts for products supplied to K-12 schools and universities throughout the Pacific Northwest. “Needs were starting to change for schools at the time, and one of our customers suggested we talk to OETC about the consortium developing an RFP for school districts to lease IT,” says Andy Hashimoto, Vice President.

Over the next year, Hashimoto and Colleen O’Donnell, IFS Senior Vice President of State, Local and Education Business, explained to OETC the benefits municipalities and schools could leverage through leasing. A contract with IFS would allow OETC-member schools to acquire equipment without requesting proposals.

“What we found with many schools is that their previous plan had been to put equipment in the classroom with teachers and keep it until it didn’t work anymore,” says O’Donnell. “But the idea was evolving that schools need a sustainable strategy for IT and a budget to support it. They need technology that matches the curriculum, technology for both students and teachers that brings digital learning to life.”

COVID-19 greatly accelerated the need, and this past October, IFS was awarded a three-year contract as an approved IT equipment leasing services vendor in California. The contract is in addition to a nationwide agreement IFS already has with OETC, and expands the services the company can provide in California.

“This is a growing market for us, and we’ve experienced significant growth over the last couple of years,” says Hashimoto. “Today, school districts need large numbers of devices, and these can be acquired through a leasing contract that manages the entire life cycle.”

To that point, Hashimoto says much of IFS’s growth in the school market is attributable to asset management services included in the company’s contracts. “The asset management is geared to specific devices and allows school districts to be in control of what happens to the equipment,” he says. And because IFS tailors its leases to individual school-district budgets and needs, IFS is able to serve every customer. “We invest the time with each school district to customize the solution so that it works specifically for them,” says O’Donnell. “We structure from beginning to end to help them have the technology they need to support learning in the classroom and from home.”

Asked for suggestions for other equipment finance companies considering the school market, Hashimoto and O’Donnell have several thoughts. “Colleen and I have joked that we are evangelists for leasing, but it’s true that customers need to be educated about how leasing can help them,” says Hashimoto. “Our message about this has been the same since we started with the education market, but with COVID-19 driving and accelerating the need for IT equipment, what we had to say became that much more important and understandable. Communicate often with your customers, and explain clearly how leasing can be a solution for budgets, for obtaining the equipment they need, and for controlling what happens to that equipment at the end of the lease.”

Adds O’Donnell, “I’d say the willingness to be nimble, to explore the market deeply and invest time communicating with prospects and building relationships, is extremely important. Working this way is a cornerstone of our business, and by doing it, we’re in  a position to respond immediately when needs change or a crisis arises. It’s how we provide solutions our  customers are looking for.”

This article originally appeared in Equipment Leasing & Finance Magazine’s Jan/Feb 2021 Issue.

Read full article at https://www.nafa.aero/articles/finding-growth-in-a-changed-world.

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The Owner-Assisted Annual: How Much Assistance May The Aircraft Owner Provide? https://shackelford.law/news-aviation/the-owner-assisted-annual-how-much-assistance-may-the-aircraft-owner-provide/ Wed, 03 Mar 2021 16:26:37 +0000 https://shackelford.law/?p=3368 The post The Owner-Assisted Annual: How Much Assistance May The Aircraft Owner Provide? appeared first on Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP.

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Many repair facilities allow a small, general aviation aircraft owner to assist with an annual inspection to help reduce the cost of the inspection for the owner.  An owner-assisted annual also provides the aircraft owner with an opportunity to learn more about the aircraft.  But how much help is the aircraft owner permitted to provide?
Before I answer that question, I think a little background may be helpful.  As you may know, 14 C.F.R. § 91.409(a) requires that an aircraft undergo an annual inspection every twelve calendar months or sooner in order for that aircraft to be airworthy.  The regulations also explain the scope of the annual inspection. 14 C.F.R. Part 43, Appendix D lists all of the items that must be inspected and whose airworthiness must be confirmed.
However, the regulations do not allow just anyone to perform an annual inspection.  14 C.F.R. § 65.95 only affords that privilege to a mechanic who also holds an inspection authorization.  That individual, who we will refer to as “the IA”, is ultimately responsible for returning the aircraft to service after completion of the annual inspection.
According to the FAA, only the IA may inspect and make airworthiness determinations for each of the items listed in Appendix D (b) through (j) when performing an annual inspection. And only the IA may approve the aircraft for return to service after the annual inspection.  The FAA considers these items to be non-delegable – meaning the IA may not let someone else perform these tasks.
So, what is left for the aircraft owner?  Not much since the aircraft owner is not permitted to assist with the inspection and airworthiness determination of any of the items in Appendix D (b) through (j).  However, paragraph (a) of Appendix D references removing or opening all necessary inspection plates, access doors, fairings and cowlings “before that inspection” and also cleaning the aircraft and engine. The FAA views those items as preliminary tasks that are not inspection items under Appendix D.
As a result, the FAA considers those types of tasks to be delegable.  This means the IA who is performing the annual inspection may allow an aircraft owner to perform those preliminary tasks under the IA’s supervision.
Interestingly, the FAA’s rationale also applies to mechanics who do not hold an inspection authorization.  Even though a mechanic without inspection authorization may perform all of the items in Appendix D (b) through (j) during a 100-hour inspection or as needed, only an IA may perform these items in connection with an annual inspection.  And only an IA may return the aircraft to service after completion of an annual inspection.
Thus, depending upon the aircraft, the owner’s assistance in removal or opening of all necessary inspection plates, access doors, fairings and cowlings, and cleaning the aircraft and engine, may be minimal or it may be quite involved.  Additionally, the IA’s comfort level with the aircraft owner’s knowledge and experience may also dictate that the IA supervise the owner’s performance of the items in paragraph (a).
However, the IA performing the annual inspection with owner assistance should remember that he or she has the obligation of personally inspecting each item, determining that item’s airworthiness, and returning the aircraft to service, if appropriate.  If the IA permits the aircraft owner to assist with the inspection or airworthiness determination for any of the items in Appendix D (b) through (j) and then the IA returns the aircraft to service, that would likely be a violation of the regulations, including 14 C.F.R. § 43.12(a)(1) involving a false entry in a maintenance record.
The potential sanctions for such violations range from suspension of a mechanic certificate or inspection authorization up to revocation of all airmen certificates.  As a result, IAs should remember and comply with these limitations if/when they perform an owner-assisted annual.

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Before You File A Part 16 Complaint Against An AIP Airport Sponsor, Make Sure You Try To Settle. https://shackelford.law/news-aviation/before-you-file-a-part-16-complaint-against-an-aip-airport-sponsor-make-sure-you-try-to-settle/ Thu, 11 Feb 2021 14:15:00 +0000 https://shackelford.law/?p=3359 The post Before You File A Part 16 Complaint Against An AIP Airport Sponsor, Make Sure You Try To Settle. appeared first on Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP.

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Airport owners or operators (“Airport Sponsors”) who receive federal grant funds under the federal Airport Improvement Program (“AIP”) must agree to certain obligations and conditions.  These obligations and conditions are commonly referred to as “Grant Assurances.” Sometimes an airport tenant may end up in a dispute with an Airport Sponsor if the tenant thinks the Airport Sponsor is not complying with certain Grant Assurances and harming the tenant.
Some of the most commonly disputed Grant Assurances include Grant Assurance 19 (Operation and Maintenance), Grant Assurance 22 (Economic Non-Discrimination), Grant Assurance 23 (Exclusive Rights), Grant Assurance 24 (Fee and Rental Structure), Grant Assurance 25 (Unlawful Revenue Diversion), and Grant Assurance 29 (Airport Layout Plan).
If a dispute arises, an airport tenant has options for pursuing a complaint against the Airport Sponsor.  However, the tenant should use reasonable efforts to try and resolve the dispute with the Airport Sponsor.  Not only is this a good business practice, but it is also a requirement if the dispute can not be resolved and a formal complaint to the FAA is needed.
Making A Complaint
An airport tenant who believes an Airport Sponsor has violated one or more of the Grant Assurances (the “Complainant”) may make a complaint to the FAA. The FAA will then investigate and, if the FAA finds non-compliance, the FAA may take enforcement action.
Informal Complaint.   Under 14 C.F.R. Part 13, a Complainant may make an informal complaint to the appropriate FAA personnel in any regional or district office, either verbally or in writing. The FAA will then review the complaint, investigate as needed, and determine whether (1) FAA action is warranted, or (2) if it appears that the airport sponsor is violating any of its federal obligations.
Formal Complaint.     If the matter is not resolved to the Complainant’s satisfaction, the Complainant may file a formal complaint with the FAA under 14 C.F.R. Part 16. And as the reference implies, this type of complaint involves a more involved and lengthy procedural process.  It also takes significantly more time before the FAA decides whether a violation has occurred.
Informal Settlement Efforts
Before a Complainant may file a formal complaint, 14 C.F.R. § 16.21 requires the Complainant to initiate and engage in good faith efforts to resolve the disputed matter informally with those individuals or entities the Complainant believes are responsible for the noncompliance. These efforts may include common alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation, arbitration, or the use of another form of third-party assistance.
Additionally, the FAA Airports District Office, FAA Airports Field Office, FAA Regional Airports Division (responsible for administering financial assistance to the airport sponsor), or the FAA Office of Civil Rights are available, upon request, to try to help the parties resolve their dispute informally. Efforts to resolve the dispute informally are mandatory.
When the Complainant files a formal complaint, 14 C.F.R. § 16.27 requires the Complainant to certify that: “(1) [t]he complainant has made substantial and reasonable good faith efforts to resolve the disputed matter informally prior to filing the complaint; and (2) [t]here is no reasonable prospect for practical and timely resolution of the dispute.”
Although neither the FAA nor the regulations require a specific form or process for informal resolution, the Complainant’s certification must include a description of the parties’ efforts, which must be relatively recent prior to the filing of the complaint.
If the Complainant fails to make the certification, does not sufficiently describe the settlement efforts, or if the parties did not engage in informal settlement efforts, the FAA will dismiss the Complainant’s complaint.  Although the dismissal will be without prejudice, the Complainant will then be required to refile the Complainant’s complaint with the required certification.
Conclusion
If you are an airport tenant in a dispute with an AIP airport sponsor, you have options available to you for resolving the dispute.  As is often the case in disputes, the parties’ mutual settlement of the dispute is preferable and encouraged.
So, it usually a good idea to engage in settlement negotiations early.  And if the matter is not settled, you should be able to document the settlement efforts in which the parties engaged.  That way if a formal Part 16 complaint is required, you will have what you need to certify your informal settlement efforts and avoid dismissal of your complaint.

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Operational Control And Aircraft Leasing: What’s The Big Deal? https://shackelford.law/news-aviation/aviation-law-articles/operational-control-and-aircraft-leasing-whats-the-big-deal/ Fri, 05 Feb 2021 20:15:49 +0000 https://shackelford.law/?p=3357 The post Operational Control And Aircraft Leasing: What’s The Big Deal? appeared first on Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP.

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From the FAA’s perspective, operational control in aircraft leasing transactions is not just a “big deal”, it is “the” deal.
What Is Operational Control?
14 C.F.R §1.1 defines operational control as “the exercise of authority over initiating, conducting or terminating a flight.”  In a “wet” lease situation, since the lessor is providing both aircraft and crew, the lessor maintains operational control of all flights.  And in the absence of a specific exemption (such as under 14 C.F.R. § 91.501(c) the lessor who is operating an aircraft under a wet lease will need to have an air carrier certificate to legally operate the aircraft.
In a “dry” lease situation, the lessee provides its own flight crew, and the lessee exercises operational control over its flights.  The lessee’s operations may be conducted legally under 14 C.F.R. Part 91 without an air carrier certificate.
It is important to keep in mind that the FAA will look beyond the actual written agreements to determine who has operational control.  Although a lease may be written as a dry lease and says “Dry Lease” at the top of the agreement, for example, that does not mean the FAA cannot take the position that the arrangement is really being conducted as a wet lease.  And if the FAA takes that position when the lessor who is actually operating the aircraft for the lessee does not have an air carrier certificate, then that will be a problem for the lessor, and potentially for the lessee as well.
Why Does It Matter?
If the lessor is exercising operational control, then the flight must be conducted in compliance with regulations that are stricter than Part 91 (i.e. Parts 121 or 135). Those regulations limit the types of airports the lessor may utilize, crew qualifications, crew rest and duty times, maintenance requirements etc.  Additionally, the lessor under a wet lease arrangement is required to remit federal excise tax on the amount charged to the lessee.
Alternatively, if the lessee has operational control under a dry lease the lessee is permitted to operate under the less restrictive and less costly requirements of Part 91.  And federal excise tax is not due on the amounts paid by the lessee to the lessor, although sales tax is often assessed on the lease rate.
How Do You Determine Who Has Operational Control?
The FAA has issued guidance for determining which party has operational control in a leasing arrangement.  Advisory Circular 91.37B Truth in Leasing provides FAA inspectors with an explanation of leasing structures and how they may or may not be compliant with the regulations.  Although AC 91.37B only applies to aircraft subject to the requirements of 14 C.F.R. § 91.23, and it is not regulatory in nature, FAA inspectors also use this guidance when reviewing leasing structures that are not subject to truth-in-leasing requirements.
Here are the types of questions an FAA inspector will ask when the inspector is trying to determine which party has operational control in an aircraft leasing situation:
  • Who decides crewmember and aircraft assignments?
  • Who accept flight requests?
  • Who actually initiates, conducts, and terminates flights?
  • Are the pilots direct employees or agents for the lessor, the lessee, or someone else?
  • Who is responsible for aircraft maintenance and where is that maintenance performed?
  • Who decides when/where maintenance is accomplished, and who pays the maintenance provider for that service?
  • Prior to departure, who ensures the flight, aircraft, and crew comply with regulations?
  • Who determines weather/fuel requirements, and who pays for the fuel at the pump?
  • Who directly pays for the airport fees, parking/hangar costs, food service, and/or rental cars?
If properly drafted, an aircraft dry lease agreement should answer these questions and, to the extent the answer for any item is “the lessor”, then the lease should explain that answer and how it does not negate lessee’s exercise of operational control.
For example, if the aircraft is leased to more than one lessee, it may make more sense for the lessor to retain responsibility for maintenance to ensure that the aircraft is consistently maintained in an airworthy condition.  Similarly, lessor maintaining an insurance policy insuring the aircraft and the various lessees may be necessary to make certain the aircraft is insured appropriately.
However, responsibility for maintenance or insurance are just two indicia of operational control.  And the lessor’s responsibility for maintenance or insurance does not negate the lessee’s responsibility for ensuring that the aircraft is in an airworthy condition and the lessee’s is properly insured prior to any operations conducted under a lease.  Appropriate language in the lease can explain these issues so an FAA inspector reviewing the lease does not misunderstand and draw the wrong conclusion.
Also be aware that some FAA inspectors rely upon AC 91.37B but do not fully or properly understand its guidance.  For example, in one instance AC 91.37B states “[t]he FAA has taken the position that if a person leases an aircraft to another and also provides the flightcrew, fuel, and maintenance, the lessor of the aircraft is the operator.”
This language is sometimes misunderstood by inspectors to mean that a lessee does not have operational control when the lessor is responsible for maintenance.  But that is incorrect.
The key indicia in the language above is lessor’s providing the flightcrew.  However, lessor’s responsibility for maintenance by itself does not indicate that lessor is improperly exercising operational control over lessee flights.  Although it may indicate that lessor is exercising some operational control, without other indicia of operational control by the lessor, performance of maintenance alone is not conclusive.
Conclusion
Operational control in aircraft leasing arrangements is, and will continue to be, an area of special emphasis for the FAA.  Although the terms of the lease and other transaction documents are important, the FAA is not bound by those terms when it is making an operational control determination.  Rather, it will also look at the actual arrangements between the parties, as well as the responsibilities of each party, especially if they are inconsistent with the lease.
When the FAA determines that lessor is exercising operational control in what is supposed to be a Part 91 dry leasing transaction, you can expect that it will act.  Depending upon the circumstances, pilots and operators could be faced with certificate action and civil penalty action.  It is important to understand the indicia of operational control and to be able to determine which party is exercising operational control in an aircraft leasing transaction.  Only then will you be able to ensure that you are operating in compliance with the regulations.

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Pilots Flying Leased Aircraft Beware! Due Diligence Is Required To Protect Your Certificates. https://shackelford.law/news-aviation/pilots-flying-leased-aircraft-beware-due-diligence-is-required-to-protect-your-certificates/ Wed, 27 Jan 2021 14:15:43 +0000 https://shackelford.law/?p=3347 The post Pilots Flying Leased Aircraft Beware! Due Diligence Is Required To Protect Your Certificates. appeared first on Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP.

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The FAA is continuing its special emphasis on investigating and pursuing enforcement action against illegal charter operations. Many of these illegal operations involve leasing arrangements that are not compliant with the regulations, and that are sometimes referred to as “sham leasing” or “disguised charter.”
When the FAA discovers such operations, it does not hesitate to take legal enforcement action against any pilots who operated aircraft on these illegal charter flights.  The FAA’s action typically involves an emergency order of revocation immediately revoking all of the pilot’s airman certificates.
While the FAA may then assess a civil penalty against other parties involved in the illegal operations (i.e. the aircraft owner or the aircraft operator), make no mistake – the pilots are the FAA’s first targets. And that is potentially a significant risk.
But before a pilot decides that he or she will simply refuse to operate an aircraft under a lease arrangement, it is important to understand that it is possible to structure leasing arrangements that are fully compliant with the regulations. Legal aircraft leasing structures are put in place every day.  Do not let anyone, including the FAA, tell you different.
How Does A Pilot Know Whether A Leasing Structure Is Legal?
First, the pilot needs to learn about and understand both legal and illegal leasing structures.  Next, with that education and understanding the pilot needs to perform some due diligence to confirm the legality of the leasing structure for the aircraft he or she will be flying.
What Type of Due Diligence Should A Pilot Conduct?
A pilot needs to do enough to confirm that the aircraft leasing structure and operations are compliant with the regulations.  Due diligence tasks a pilot should pursue include the following:
  • Get a copy of Advisory Circular 91-37B Truth in Leasing and review. Although truth in leasing may not apply to the leased aircraft that will be operated, this AC provides a good general understanding of leasing arrangements and operational control requirements;
  • Obtain a copy of the applicable lease agreement for the aircraft to be flown and review. Confirm that the lessee is the party exercising operational control;
  • If Truth-in-Leasing applies under FAR § 91.23, confirm that the lease was filed with the FAA Technical Branch and notice was given to the applicable FAA Flight Standards Office at least 48 hours before the first flight under the lease;
  • If the FAA has issued any Letters of Authorization (“LOA”) for the aircraft, review to confirm that the LOA is issued to the party who will actually be operating the aircraft. This should be the lessee;
  • Enter into a separate pilot services agreement confirming the pilot’s agency on behalf of the aircraft lessee/operator;
  • Although not a regulatory requirement, it also makes sense to review the insurance policy and endorsements issued for the aircraft to confirm that the policy actually covers the operations to be conducted by the lessee; and
  • Make sure the aircraft leasing and operating arrangements passes a “gut check.” If the documentation is correct, are the parties actually operating consistent with the documents?  Or are the operations really being conducted as sham leasing or illegal charter?  Is a true leasing arrangement in place between aircraft owner and lessee, or is someone in the middle with whom the lessee coordinates all aircraft operations?
If the due diligence reveals a legitimate leasing structure, then a pilot can fly for the lessee operator with the knowledge that the pilot is not putting his or her airman certificates at risk.  Additionally, if the FAA ever asks about the operations (i.e. in connection with a ramp check, or perhaps after an anonymous tip by an unhappy competitor) the pilot will be able show the FAA inspector the due diligence he or she performed and explain how the operations are structured and conducted in compliance with the regulations.
However, if the due diligence does not check out, then the pilot should be wary about flying under the existing structure. Although it may be possible to restructure the leasing arrangement to bring it into compliance, until that happens any flights by the pilot could put his or her certificates at risk.
And if the aircraft owner or lessee do not permit the pilot to perform the due diligence, then the pilot should be especially cautious.  Since the pilot’s certificates will be the FAA’s first target if the operations are conducted illegally, the pilot should demand that he or she be permitted to confirm that the leasing structure is compliant.  Without that due diligence, the pilot may want to fly for someone else.
Conclusion
The FAA will continue its emphasis on and oversight of aircraft leasing operations.  It will also pursue legal enforcement action when it discovers sham leasing or illegal charter operations. Although pilots may still operate aircraft that are part of legitimate aircraft leasing structures, pilots should do their due diligence before they operate aircraft to ensure that it is not part of a non-compliant leasing structure.
If a particular lease arrangement is questionable, or if it is non-compliant, pilots should get help from a knowledgeable aviation attorney to review the arrangement and to help correct the leasing structure and operations, so they are compliant with the regulations.

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Lifelong Monitoring Now Required For Airmen Participating In The HIMS Program https://shackelford.law/news-aviation/lifelong-monitoring-now-required-for-airmen-participating-in-the-hims-program/ Sun, 29 Nov 2020 17:10:10 +0000 https://shackelford.law/?p=3323 The post Lifelong Monitoring Now Required For Airmen Participating In The HIMS Program appeared first on Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP.

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Airmen Medical Certification And Substance Dependence
As you may know, an airman who has an alcohol or substance dependence does not qualify for issuance of an unrestricted airman medical certificate under 14 C.F.R. §§ 67.307(a)(4), 67.207(a)(4), and 67.107(a)(4). However, the Federal Air Surgeon in the FAA’s Office of Aerospace Medicine may issue an Authorization for Special Issuance of Medical Certificate (“Special Issuance”) to an airman who does not qualify for an unrestricted medical certificate under 14 C.F.R. § 67.401.
The airman must convince the Federal Air Surgeon that he or she can perform the duties authorized by the applicable class of medical certificate without endangering public safety during the period in which the Special Issuance is in effect. Whether to issue a Special Issuance is at the sole discretion of the Federal Air Surgeon. And the Federal Air Surgeon’s decision whether to grant a Special Issuance is not subject to review by the National Transportation Safety Board.
So, how does an airman find him or herself in a position where the FAA may consider the airman disqualified due to a substance dependence condition? The most common reasons are
  • The airman is arrested for driving while intoxicated (“DWI”) or driving under the influence (“DUI”) and his or her blood alcohol concentration is 0.15 or greater. The FAA views the .15 level as an indicium of tolerance which shows an ongoing alcohol problem, rather than a one-time event;
  • The airman receives a second DWI/DUI; or
  • The airman refuses to take a breath or blood test, which the FAA assumes means the airman was, in essence, pleading guilty to DWI/DUI (the “guilty until proven innocent” approach, which also brings to mind the colloquial reference about what we do when we “assume”).
Once the FAA concludes that the airman has a substance dependence condition, then the airman is disqualified from being issued an unrestricted first, second, or third class medical certificate. However, the airman may still be able to qualify for a Special Issuance medical certificate, provided that the airman meets a multitude of conditions. This is where the HIMS program comes in.
The HIMS ProgramHimsProgram
The Human Intervention Motivation Study (“HIMS”) is a program specific to aviation that coordinates the identification, treatment and return to the cockpit of airmen who suffer from alcoholism and other chemical dependencies. The program is a balance between preserving the airmen’s careers while still ensuring air safety. The HIMS program provides a mechanism through which an airman with a disqualifying substance dependence condition may obtain a Special Issuance.
When an airman seeking a Special Issuance enters the HIMS program, he or she will be required to complete the following initial steps:
  • The airman must submit to a substance abuse assessment;
  • The airman must complete a 28-day (preferably in-patient) treatment program addressing his or her substance dependence;
  • The airman must establish peer and company sponsorship
  • Following the initial treatment program, the airman must complete 3 months of intensive outpatient follow up
  • The airman must regularly attend peer group meetings;
  • The airman must establish a regular aftercare regime; and
  • The airman must submit to psychiatric and neuropsychological evaluations by HIMS-trained addiction specialists.
Once the airman has completed the initial steps and he or she is established in recovery, then the airman can apply for a special issuance medical certificate. If the FAA is convinced the airman is, in fact, established in recovery, then the FAA may grant a Special Issuance of a limited duration (usually 12 months) that is conditioned upon the airman’s continuing compliance with certain “after care” requirements.
The airman bears the cost of his or her after care. While some airmen have insurance that may provide coverage for some, or maybe even all, of the after care requirements, many airmen do not. And unfortunately, the costs of complying with the ongoing after care requirements is expensive.
In the past, an airman who established and maintained recovery would eventually be eligible to receive an unrestricted first, second, or third class medical certificate. This meant the cost of complying with the Special Issuance after care requirements, including the monitoring, could eventually be eliminated. That is no longer the case.
The HIMS Step Down Plan
On August 17, 2020 when the Federal Air Surgeon released its “HIMS Step Down Plan” updating its after care requirements. Now, an airman who has obtained a special issuance medical certificate through the HIMS program is faced with lifetime monitoring by the FAA.
Under the new “HIMS Step Down Plan”, an airman with a history of substance dependence will be subject to the following after care requirements:
  • Permanent abstinence from mind and mood altering substances is expected for the duration of the flying career.
Initial Phase (Year 1, beginning with initial special issuance)
  • Aftercare weekly for 1 year;
  • HIMS psychiatrist/addictions specialist one visit at end of year 1;
  • Random testing 14 screens in 12 mos and/or mobile alcohol testing e.g. Soberlink;
  • Attendance at peer support group e.g. AA twice weekly;
  • Chief pilot/management assessment monthly;
  • Peer pilot assessment monthly; and
  • HIMS AME of record every 3 months (half the visits may be virtual).
Early Phase (Years 2-4)
  • Random testing 14 screens in 12 mos. and/or mobile alcohol testing e.g. Soberlink;
  • Attendance at peer support group e.g. AA twice weekly;
  • Chief pilot/management assessment monthly;
  • Peer pilot assessment monthly; and
  • HIMS AME of record every 3 months (half the visits may be virtual).
Advanced Phase (Years 5-7)
  • Random PEth testing (plus drug screens if indicated) 4 times in 12 months;
  • Attendance at peer support group e.g. AA weekly; and
  • HIMS AME of record every 6 months.
Maintenance Phase (Year 7 on)
  • HIMS AME of airman’s choice at each exam.
It is important to understand that each airman in the program is still evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Thus, the timing for progression through these phases may vary from airman to airman. Progression is not automatic.
Also, the testing frequencies are minimums. The airman’s HIMS AME may increase the frequency as needed, in the HIMS AME’s discretion.
Conclusions
Unfortunately, as is often the case, the FAA’s guidance is incomplete. It is not clear how or when the HIMS AME may exercise his or her discretion to increase the frequency of testing, and thereby increase the airman’s cost of compliance.
Equally unfortunate is the lifetime monitoring requirement. Airmen who have obtained a Special Issuance through the HIMS program are now stuck with the program for the rest of their flying careers. Although the HIMS program has certainly saved many airmen’s careers, for those in the program, and those who will enter the program in the future, the obligations and costs of participation are now are now a career-long commitment.

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Thoughts on Being a Veteran https://shackelford.law/news/thoughts-on-being-a-veteran/ Wed, 11 Nov 2020 17:40:14 +0000 https://shackelford.law/?p=3311 I was probably 4 years old, and I instantly fell in love. She was a Ford Tri-Motor (commonly called a “Tin Goose”), built sometime in the 1920s and now being

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By David Norton | November 11, 2020 | The Texas Lawbook


I was probably 4 years old, and I instantly fell in love. She was a Ford Tri-Motor (commonly called a “Tin Goose”), built sometime in the 1920s and now being used by a small charter airline to fly passengers on a short hop out to an island in Lake Erie. Climbing up into the airplane, I looked up the aisle, saw the cockpit and was hooked.

Now fast forward 14 years of being fascinated by all things aviation – especially military aviation. Although there was little military background in my family (my parents were civilian schoolteachers, but my father had done his obligatory two-year stint in the U.S. Army), I had heard of the United States Air Force Academy while in high school. The more I learned, the more enamored I became. The thought of serving our country in general, of doing so as a USAF officer, and most importantly of having the chance to interface with military airplanes in any way—maybe even as a pilot—was exhilarating. Somehow, I managed to snag an appointment to the Academy and, even more amazingly to me, graduate from that institution four years later.

After raising my right hand to swear an oath to protect and defend the United States Constitution and pinning on my second lieutenant’s golden “butter” bars, I headed out into the world to begin my active duty service as an officer and aviator. One thing about serving in the U.S. military is that it gives you an awesome amount of responsibility and experience in a very short period of time and at a very young age. Within the following nine years, I would serve briefly as a Boeing KC-135A “Stratotanker” navigator, then primarily as a McDonnel Douglas KC-10A “Extender” pilot, aircraft commander and flight commander. I would become a veteran of, among other things, Operations Desert Watch and Desert Storm (the first Gulf War), Operation Southern Watch (the no-fly zone over Iraq) and Operation Restore Hope (relief operations into Africa). I would have the opportunity to work with—and lead before I had reached the age of 30—incredibly smart, well-trained and professional airman conducting complex flight operations over much of the world. Most importantly to me, I would forever be indelibly imprinted upon by my education at the Academy and my service in the USAF.

At the nine-year point I reached a proverbial fork in the road and had to decide whether to continue my career in the USAF or seek some new challenge. In contemplating which path to take, I remembered back to a class I had taken at the Academy called “Law for Commanders,” my first introduction to the law. I remembered being very intrigued at the time but was anxious to get out and fly so did not give it much further thought. Now, nine years later and having achieved my flying goals (and having heard one day of another pilot who was finishing law school and was going to focus on aviation law—I didn’t even know you could do that!), the thought of taking this new career path began to excite me just as my first experience of flight had opened the world of aviation to me many years earlier.

One of the hardest days of my life was the day that I walked into my commander’s office and submitted my resignation of my commission as a USAF officer so that I could start the aviation law path. As difficult as that was, I knew it was the right decision. Shortly afterward I found myself attending the Southern Methodist University Law School because it was the home of the Journal of Air Law Commerce, which seemed like the logical place to go. While at SMU I had the phenomenal opportunity of serving as the editor of that publication (noting that my experience at the Academy, followed by nine years of active duty service, made me a much better law student than I would have been otherwise), and upon graduation I began to immerse myself in the field of business aviation law.

Now, some 25 years later, I reflect on how and why I traveled down these two separate paths of military aviation and the law, and I see many similarities between them. In both I see key attributes such as service before self, an oath to defend and protect our U.S. Constitution, attention to detail and process, the qualities of teamwork while still taking personal responsibility for getting the job done and the opportunity to work with incredibly dedicated and smart individuals trying to make this world a better place.

I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the word to be where I am today. I know that having the opportunity to live and absorb all of the values and behaviors engrained into me—beginning with the day they shaved off my hair and made me a basic cadet at the Air Force Academy through becoming that captain on an Air Force DC-10—was a bigger force in shaping my life than I can ever acknowledge. It is hard for me to state how much I value all of the education and life experiences I received in the military, and then the opportunity to try to give back in some small measure to our country and our society within the legal community—and just how much that military experience prepared me for a career in the law.

That being said, in no way do I consider myself to be any kind of hero. I am just a very fortunate soul, and I am eternally grateful to the real heroes—all of my fellow brothers and sisters in arms who did not come back from the fight whole or who did not come back at all.

David Norton, MBA, JD, ATP, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, heads the aviation law practice at Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP. An internationally recognized aviation lawyer, he remains an active pilot.

 

Read the full article by David Norton on The Texas Lawbook

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Service to Country a Natural Progression to Honor https://shackelford.law/news/service-to-country-a-natural-progression-to-honor/ Tue, 10 Nov 2020 17:42:03 +0000 https://shackelford.law/?p=3316 Unconventional paths and hard work highlight my life, professionally and personally. My life started in the rural farmlands of northeast Arkansas

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By David Odom | November 10, 2020 | The Texas Lawbook


Unconventional paths and hard work highlight my life, professionally and personally. My life started in the rural farmlands of northeast Arkansas by my “farmer” parents who valued hard work and personal sacrifice. My father could neither read nor write. As fate would try and have its way in my life, I was destined to continue the family farming tradition. However, I had two God-given callings that conquered fate – flying airplanes and practicing law.

Years later in May 1984, I felt the calling to serve my country and pursue my dreams and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. Soon after, I began attending college night classes in hopes of applying for Officer Training School. In a few short years, I graduated magna cum laude from Chapman University in Orange, California, with a B.S. in electronics.

Following graduation, I applied for OTS and Undergraduate Navigator Training simultaneously and was accepted for both. I graduated from OTS in 1987 and began UNT that same year. In 1988, I graduated from UNT in the top 10% of my class and was afforded the opportunity to select the aircraft and base of my choosing. I selected Barksdale AFB in Bossier City, Louisiana. My selected squadron flew the KC-135 Stratotanker, which is a modified Boeing 707 for midair refueling of other aircraft.

In September 1990, Operation Desert Shield began, and I left my pregnant wife to serve my country. My squadron deployed to Lajes Field in Lajes, Portugal, an island in the middle of the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. We played a key role by forming a refueling “air bridge” to the Middle East during the Gulf War. In 1991, I returned stateside to see my first and only child born at the base hospital.

Once Desert Storm was over, I applied to fly the B-1B Bomber, as an offensive systems officer. So in early 1993, I pivoted my career in the Air Force and pursued this new bomber opportunity. The B-1B is a highly complex, low level, supersonic, nuclear capable bomber with advanced technology to fly behind enemy lines without easily being detected by the enemy. After a successful and rigorous yearlong training program, I was assigned in 1994 to the B-1B squadron at Dyess AFB in Abilene.

In 1999, after almost 16 years of active duty service, I pivoted my career once again and resigned my commission as a captain in the Air Force. It was now time to follow my second calling in life – practicing intellectual property/patent law. In August 1999, my family and I set out for Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, New Hampshire, my first choice for law school due to its world-renowned reputation in intellectual property and patent law.

Honor, integrity, service before self and excellence are some of the core values of military service. Thus, naturally, my military service exemplifies and was an extension of my personal core values of service and honor to my God, my family and my friends.

I enlisted out of a duty to serve my country. In doing so, I was also able to fulfil my dream of flying in the USAF. Even though many of the world conflicts that would overlap my career in the military had not begun at the time of enlistment, I knew that it would be possible that I could be called to sacrifice as many before me did.

I knew of the importance of service to country although I did not have a strong family tradition of military service before me. To me, service to my country felt like a natural progression to honor and make sacrifices just as many others did before me. Serving others has been instilled in me since my childhood by being taught to serve my God, family and others. I am grateful because such has shaped me into the person I am today, both personally and professionally as an attorney.

Looking back at my entire career, everything happened for a reason and nothing happened “by chance” and every position and experience, especially in the U.S. Air Force, played an integral role in positioning and shaping me and my legal career. From my father, I learned at an early age that hard work will always pay off, even if you don’t realize it at the time. That is so true through my career as I took the unconventional path of serving my country before focusing on my long-term career in the legal world. Sometimes we get involved with the day to day demands and stresses of work that we forget the sacrifices of people that have come before us in shaping this great country.

My military service taught me at a high level, to be a leader, to make wiser decisions and to give the well thought advice. This overflows into my legal profession because it allows me to view every client and act in every situation to the highest degree with integrity, precision and wise counsel.

Since humble beginnings in rural Arkansas and throughout my career in the Air Force and my legal career, I never have shied away from a challenge or an opportunity. There are always calculated risks to any situation, but with my foundation of military professional training and my legal specialization in intellectual property, I am confident in the decisions I have to make and the advice I have to give each and every day. I am forever grateful for the opportunities that I have been given and for what I have learned throughout my years.

David L Odom is an intellectual property partner in the Dallas office of Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton. He was a captain in the U.S. Air Force and an aviator with more than 2,000 combined flying hours in the KC-135A and B-1B bomber aircraft. He also served as an electronics engineering liaison in cooperation with a defense contractor in the aviation defense B-1B flight simulation facility at Dyess AFB. He is a Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran.

 

 

Read the full article by David Odom on The Texas Lawbook

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