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Schnader’s Aviation Group consistently is ranked by independent agencies among the nation’s preeminent aviation law practices. We have decades of experience representing many of the world’s leading manufacturers of commercial, general aviation and military aircraft, engines and components, as well as domestic and international airlines, international and regional airports, Part 135 operators, Part 145 repair stations, corporate aviation departments, and domestic and global aviation insurers.

Our aviation attorneys reside in five cities on the East and West Coasts of the United States, which allows us regularly to litigate cases in state and federal courts throughout the country. With decades of military and civilian aviation industry experience outside of the law, our lawyers are intimately familiar with industry developments and requirements, and hold prominent leadership roles in the national aviation bar. Our adversaries know that our Aviation Group, which boasts members of the invitation-only International Academy of Trial Lawyers and American College of Trial Lawyers, will not hesitate to try a case when necessary, often allowing us to obtain favorable results without trial. Combining these capabilities with one of the most respected appellate practices in the United States gives Schnader the unique capability to handle all aspects of a case’s life cycle, and positions us as a go-to firm to address the most challenging issues of the developing law of aviation for clients worldwide. It is not surprising that our clients retain us to represent them all over the United States, not just in the jurisdictions in which our attorneys reside.

Real world experience forms the foundation of our practice

Members of our group include a retired Air Force Command pilot and a current Air Force Reserve Instructor Pilot, both with substantial international flight experience, an instrument-rated private pilot, FAA-licensed commercial pilots, as well as an aviation consultant, flight instructor, ground instructor, former air traffic controller, and former military JAG officer. This aviation industry knowledge, combined with our national trial and appellate experience, gives Schnader the capability to efficiently litigate high-profile, complex cases.

International Recognition

Schnader’s Aviation Group has been ranked among the top firms in Aviation: Litigation Nationwide by Chambers USA. Client remarks gathered by Chambers include, “Outstanding. They are trusted to deliver excellence.” The Legal 500 US ranked Schnader among the top firms nationwide for Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense: Aerospace/Aviation, noting Schnader “attracts praise for its ‘excellent industry knowledge, advice and responsiveness’ and stand-out trial and appellate practice.”

Legal Media Group’s Expert Guides named four of our partners (resident in our New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. offices) to its directory of the top aviation lawyers in the world, and one of our partners to its Product Liability Litigation list. Five of our partners are listed in Who’s Who: Legal Transport as leading aviation defense lawyers, including two of the top eight leading defense lawyers in the United States and one of five global elite thought leaders in the United States. In addition, three partners are listed by The Best Lawyers in America for Aviation Law and Product Liability Litigation. Within the ranks of our group are two Fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers, one Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, and four members of the International Association of Defense Counsel.

Leaders in the aviation bar

Three Schnader aviation partners have held the post of National Chair of the DRI Aviation Law Committee, as well as other prominent positions within DRI. We also have held leadership positions in the ABA; for example, one of our partners edited the Aviation Litigation Quarterly newsletter for ten years, and another serves as Vice Chair of the Tort and Insurance Practice Section of the ABA Forum on Air and Space Law. Another partner is a Board Member and Director of the Attorneys Division of the Aviation Insurance Association. We frequently are called upon to speak at high-profile aviation venues, including IATA conferences, the SMU Air Law Symposium, the ACI Aviation Law Conference, the Aviation Insurance Association Annual Meeting, Air Law Institute Symposium, American Bar Association meetings, DRI annual and practice area conferences, the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Air Law & Insurance Symposium, and the McGill Conference on International Aviation Liability and Insurance.

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Below is a brief summary of some of the major areas in which Schnader’s aviation team provides legal and consulting services:

Aviation Litigation

We have advised multiple manufacturing clients in high profile and multi-district litigation arising out of foreign airline disasters, including the Swissair 111 crash into the Atlantic Ocean near Nova Scotia, the Spanair 5022 crash in Madrid, the Air France 447 crash into the Atlantic Ocean, the AirAsia 8501 crash into the Java Sea, and the Flash Airlines 604 crash into the Red Sea. We also have advised on multiple military aircraft accidents, including the crash of an Army Air National Guard helicopter and a military helicopter crash in Iraq, a military contractor accident in Afghanistan, the crashes of two special operations helicopters in the United States, and crashes of military aircraft internationally on the high seas. We regularly litigate matters involving property and personal injury claims against airports, aircraft accidents and incidents, aircraft purchases/leases, and commercial actions related to aircraft engines and component parts on behalf of airlines and aircraft, engine, and component manufacturers. We also defend airlines in connection with wrongful death and personal injury actions, as well as delay and baggage claims.

Aviation Insurance

We counsel the world’s leading issuers of aerospace insurance, and litigate disputes when they cannot be resolved informally. We have provided guidance to aerospace insurers on matters in the air, outer space, and the sea, including the 9/11 attacks, the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and satellite-in-orbit failures.


We brief and argue appellate cases for numerous aviation and insurance clients in state and federal courts throughout the country, and are retained to handle appeals even where we were not counsel of record in the underlying action. We often are called upon to draft amicus briefs on some of the most important issues facing the aviation industry.

Air Cargo Claims

With one of the country’s most knowledgeable attorneys on cargo law within our ranks, evidenced by IATA’s decision to call upon him to conduct cargo claims and liability training for air carriers, ground handlers and other entities on its behalf, we are among the leading law firms with regard to the handling of domestic and international cargo law claims.

Regulatory Matters

We counsel and assist a wide variety of individual professionals and entities with regulatory matters, including petitions, certifications, administrative actions and enforcement proceedings. 

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS/Drones) 

We are at the vanguard of developments in support of this emerging industry. We have counseled on the law governing UAS systems throughout the world and provided advice to a wide variety of clients regarding the procedure for obtaining an Airworthiness Certificate for the operation of UAS systems. We have authored several Section 333 petitions seeking exemptions for the operation of UAS systems.

Antitrust and Bankruptcy

With the assistance of Schnader’s Antitrust Group, we have broad experience advising on antitrust matters in a wide range of industries, including aviation. With experienced bankruptcy attorneys in our Bankruptcy Group resident on both the East and West Coasts of the United States, we are well positioned to assist our aviation clients in dealing with issues arising out of bankruptcies.

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For further information concerning Schnader’s Aviation Group, please contact our Co-Chairs, Robert J. Williams, or Barry S. Alexander. 

Ranked in Chambers 

Our Attorneys

Barry S. Alexander 212-973-8099 New York, NY Philadelphia, PA Download vCard
Richard A. Barkasy 215-751-2526 Philadelphia, PA Wilmington, DE Download vCard
Kristi J. Doughty 302-482-4038 Wilmington, DE Philadelphia, PA Download vCard
Bryant T. Eng 215-751-2575 Philadelphia, PA Download vCard
Arleigh P. Helfer 215-751-2430 Philadelphia, PA Download vCard
Leo J. Murphy 415-364-6709 San Francisco, CA Download vCard
Brandy S. Ringer 412-577-5222 Pittsburgh, PA Download vCard
Lisa J. Rodriguez 856-482-5741 Cherry Hill, NJ Download vCard
Carl J. Schaerf 212-973-8005 New York, NY Download vCard
Lee C. Schmeer 215-751-2506 Philadelphia, PA Download vCard
Stephen J. Shapiro 215-751-2259 Philadelphia, PA Cherry Hill, NJ Download vCard
Edward J. Sholinsky 215-751-2304 Philadelphia, PA Cherry Hill, NJ Download vCard
J. Denny Shupe 215-751-2300 Philadelphia, PA Download vCard
Jonathan B. Skowron 412-577-5113 Pittsburgh, PA Download vCard
Jonathan M. Stern 202-419-4202 Washington, DC Download vCard
Jennifer K. Thai 415-364-6732 San Francisco, CA Download vCard
Brittany C. Wakim 215-751-2092 Philadelphia, PA Cherry Hill, NJ Download vCard
Ralph G. Wellington 215-751-2488 Philadelphia, PA Download vCard
Keith E. Whitson 412-577-5220 Pittsburgh, PA Download vCard
Robert J. Williams 412-577-5291 Pittsburgh, PA Philadelphia, PA Download vCard
Gordon S. Woodward 202-419-4215 Washington, DC Download vCard

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