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Frequently Asked Questions

© Aviation Business Journal | 2nd Quarter 2014    

 

The NATA Aviation Legal Services Plan  was launched in July 2013. Since the Plan’s inception, NATA members who have elected to join are saving thousands of dollars on legal fees and tens of thousands of dollars in FAA civil penalties. Members have also received legal representation concerning FAA investigations, proposed certificate actions, Drug and Alcohol Program inspections, and certification matters.

Common questions about the plan include:

What is the NATA Aviation Legal Services Plan™?

Who provides legal services under the NATA Aviation Legal Services Plan™?

What is covered under the NATA Aviation Legal Services Plan™?

Who is covered under the NATA Aviation Legal Services Plan™?

What if the pre-paid legal service hours are not used during the membership year?

 

What is the NATA Aviation Legal Services Plan™?

Since the summer of 2013, the NATA Aviation Legal Services Plan™ has been available exclusively to members of the National Air Transportation Association. Eligible companies include aircraft management and charter operators, fractional ownership programs, maintenance and repair stations, fixed base operators, flight schools, parts manufacturers, and other aviation  businesses.

Benefits of the Plan include access to an experienced aviation attorney seven days a week,  365 days per year, through a toll free number (877-4-AIR-LAW). The Plan provides for pre-paid legal service hours and telephone consultations concerning FAA certificate and civil penalty enforcement actions, Drug and Alcohol Program inspections, the Voluntary Disclosure reporting Program, aircraft accident and incident reporting. Members may select Basic, Plus or Ultimate levels of coverage, which provide 10, 15, or 25 hours of pre-paid legal services per year, respectively.
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Who provides legal services under the NATA Aviation Legal Services Plan™?

Representation under the Plan is provided by The Aviation Law Firm, a national firm based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, which was founded and is managed by Gregory S. Winton, Esq. Winton is a former trial attorney for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and U.S. Department of Justice, who has practiced aviation law exclusively for more than 25 years. Winton received the AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubble® for outstanding achievement, demonstrating that he has earned the highest rating available for his legal ability and professional ethics. Within the past 10 years, Winton and The Aviation Law Firm have successfully defended more cases against the FAA than any other lawyer or law firm in the country, some of which resulted in the award of attorney fees from the FAA to his clients. To date, Winton has recovered more than $350,000 from the FAA, including the largest single award in excess of $124,500. Although rare, attorney fees and expenses are granted after a party has prevailed in an FAA enforcement action and a judge determined that the  agency lacked justification for proceeding with the action.
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What is covered under the NATA Aviation Legal Services Plan™?

Comprehensive benefits include lower, fixed hourly rates for representation by an experienced aviation law firm that is available after business hours, during weekends, and on holidays. Because Commercial Aviation operates every day, all day, the NATA Aviation Legal Services Plan™ provides representation when NATA members need it most. Covered events include: FAA, DOT, and U.S. Customs’ investigations and enforcement actions, Accident & Incident reporting, Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program submissions, Requests for FAA interpretations and Chief Counsel opinions, and other aviation-related legal matters.
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Who is covered under the NATA Aviation Legal Services Plan™?

Aviation businesses and their employees are covered under the Plan. Frequently, the FAA will take simultaneous enforcement actions against a particular airman or maintenance technician, as well as the aircraft owner/operator, arising from  the same incident. In those circumstances, legal fees for dual representation can become costly. However, as long as the employee was working within the scope of employment at the time of the alleged violation, and no conflict of interest exists between the employer and employee, both can be provided legal services under the NATA Aviation Legal Services Plan™. In a recent example, a Plan member operated an aircraft that struck a bird in flight during a commercial sightseeing operation. Following an uneventful landing, a company mechanic inspected the non-structural aircraft damage, returned the aircraft to service with a maintenance record entry, and the aircraft was flown back to its home base for permanent repair. Subsequently, the FAA investigated the incident and sought certificate suspensions against the mechanic and pilot, as well as a civil penalty against the charter certificate holder. All three were provided representation under the Plan at a significant cost savings.
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What if the pre-paid legal service hours are not used during the membership year?

At the conclusion of a membership year (i.e., 12 months), if a Member did not utilize all of the pre-paid Membership Level legal service hours (i.e., Basic Level - 10 hours; Plus Level - 15 hours; or Ultimate Level - 25 hours), any unused hours will carry over to the next consecutive membership year, up to a maximum accumulation of three (3) consecutive years (“Roll-over Hours”). The maximum number of Roll-Over Hours that may be accumulated by a member at any given time is three (3) times the current Membership Level, specifically 30 hours Basic Level, 45 hours Plus Level, and 75 hours Ultimate Level maximums.
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Revised 06/20/2014