Sarah Nilsson JD, PhD, MAS
Sarah NilssonJD, PhD, MAS


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US Courts of Appeals by Circuit - photo from

Introduction to Legalese

3 key ideas about Law

1. Knowledge is Power

2. Law is important to successfully navigate "Life"

3. Law is fascinating! (well at least to me, anyway! but y'all know I'm a geek)


Sources of Law

Federalism: A double-layered system of government, with the national and state governments each exercising important but limited powers

US Constitution: The supreme law of the land

1. Establishes the national government of the US with its 3 branches (legislative, executive, judicial)

2. Creates a system of checks and balances among the branches

3. Guarantees many basic rights to the American people

Statutes: A law passed by Congress or by a state legislature

Common law: binding legal ideas that come from the courts

Stare decisis: The principle that precedent is binding on later cases, literally "let the decision stand"

Court Orders: place binding obligations on specific people or companies (e.g. injunction)

Administrative Law: Regulations are created by government agencies (e.g. FAA)

Treaties: Agreements made by President with foreign nations - must be ratified by 2/3 Senate vote - then, binding on all citizens


Classifications of Law

Criminal Law: Concerns behavior so threatening that society outlaws it altogether

Civil Law: Regulates the rights and duties between parties

Administrative Law: Concerns enforcement of regulations created by government agencies like the FAA


Analyzing a Case

Plaintiff: Person who is suing

Defendant: Person being sued

Facts: Background to the lawsuit

Issue: What the court had to decide

Holding: Court's decision 

Reasoning: Explains why the court reached its decision

Reverse: Declare the lower court's ruling wrong and void

Remand: Send a case back down to a lower court

Affirm: Uphold a lower court's ruling

Concurring opinion: opinion filed by a judge who agrees with the majority opinion on the case but for differing reasons

Dissenting opinion: opinion filed by a judge who disagrees with the majority opinion

Per Curiam: decision of the court is in unanimous agreement

Amicus briefs: legal documents filed in appellate court cases by non-litigants with a strong interest in the subject matter - these briefs advise the court of relevant, additional information or arguments that the court might wish to consider


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3 Fundamental areas of law:

1. Structure of our court system (one federal and one for each state) 

2. Litigation: Process of resolving disputes in court through filing claims in court, trying the case, and living with the court's ruling

3. ADR - Alternative Dispute Resolution: Resolving disputes out of court, through formal or informal processes - cheaper and faster than litigation

Mediation: Form of ADR in which a neutral third party guides the disputing parties toward a voluntary settlement - strongest "win-win" potential

Arbitration: Form of ADR in which a neutral third party has the power to impose a binding decision 


Trial Courts: Determine the facts and apply to them the law given by appellate courts


Jurisdiction: Court's power to hear a case - There are 2 types:

1. Subject Matter Jurisdiction: Court has authority to hear a particular type of case

2. Personal Jurisdiction: Court has legal authority over the defendant to require the defendant to stand trial, pay judgments, and the like.


Personal Jurisdiction generally exists if:

- Defendant is a resident of the state in which a lawsuit is filed; or

- Defendant files documents in court, e.g. answer to a complaint; or

- Summons is served on defendant (Summons is court's written notice that a lawsuit has been filed against defendant - must be delivered to the defendant when she is physically in the state in which lawsuit is filed); or

- Long-arm statute applies - when someone who does not live in a state but commits a tort, signs a contract, causes foreseeable harm, or conducts "regular business activities" there - minimum contacts - Due Process Clause - International Shoe Co. v. State of Washington

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Appellate Courts: Higher courts which generally accept the facts provided by trial courts and review the record for legal errors.

Appellant: Party filing an appeal of the trial verdict

Appellee: Party opposing an appeal


Federal Courts: Established by US Constitution - limited jurisdiction - 2 kinds of cases:

Federal Question Case: Claim based upon US Constitution, federal statute, or federal treaty

Diversity Case: Lawsuit in which the plaintiff and defendant are citizens of different states AND the amount in dispute exceeds $75,000



Pleadings: Documents that begin a lawsuit, consisting of a complaint, the answer, and sometimes a reply

Complaint: Pleading that starts a lawsuit - short statement of the facts alleged by the plaintiff, and her legal claims

Answer: Defendant's response to the complaint

Default judgment: Decision that the plaintiff in a case wins without going to trial

Class Action: Suit filed by a group of plaintiffs with related claims

Discovery: allows the two sides in a lawsuit to obtain documentary and other evidence from the opponent before trial - Parties are entitled to discover anything that could reasonably lead to valid evidence

Types include:

- Interrogatories: written questions that opposing party must answer, in writing, under oath

- Depositions: one party's lawyer questions the other party or witness (deponent), under oath

- Production of documents and things: each side may ask the other to produce for inspection and copying

- Physical and mental examination: if condition is relevant

Motion: formal request to the court

Pre-trial motions: Class Action and Summary Judgment

Motion to compel discovery: request to court for order requiring other side to answer discovery

Motion for a protective order: request to court, for good cause shown, where justice requires to protect a party from unreasonable annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, burden or expense

e-discovery: electronic discovery

Summary Judgment: Ruling that no trial is necessary because essential facts are not in dispute



Adversary System: based on the assumption that if two sides present their best case before a neutral party, the truth will be established

Jury Selection

Right to a jury trial: not always, but generally where money damages are involved (Judge's instructions) 

Opening statements: summarize proof lawyer expects to offer, plaintiff going first

Plaintiff's Case

Burden of Proof: Obligation to convince the jury that a party's version of the case is correct

 - Preponderance of the evidence: civil suit - plaintiff's version is slightly more likely than defendant's (51-49)

- Beyond a reasonable doubt: criminal case - government, or prosecution, must demonstrate the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt

Direct examination: when a lawyer asks questions of her own witness

Cross examination: when a lawyer asks questions of an opposing witness

Defendant's Case

Closing argument: both lawyers sum up their case 





Precedent: earlier decisions by a court on similar or identical issues, on which subsequent court decisions can be based

Affirm: to allow a court decision to stand as is

Modify: to let a court decision stand, but with changes

Reverse and remand: to nullify a lower court's decision and return a case to trial

Reverse: to rule that the loser in a previous case wins, with no new trial


Constitutional Law

The Constitution is a series of compromises about power

Separation of Powers

To limit power - 3 branches (independent and equal) - each a check on the others


Limited power - Congress has enumerated powers

Power Granted

Congressional power - Article 1 - creates Congress with 2 houses - Senate and House of Representatives

Interstate Commerce

Commerce clause: gives Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among states

"The Congress shall have the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states."

Executive power - Article 2 - basic job of the President is to enforce the nation's laws

3 key powers: 

Appointment - of heads of administrative agencies

Legislation - propose bills to Congress - veto power

Foreign policy - conducts nation's foreign affairs - treaties - Commander in Chief of Armed Forces

Judicial power - Article 3 - creates Supreme Court - permits Congress to establish lower courts within federal court system

Federal courts - 2 key functions

- Adjudicating cases: criminal and civil cases

- Judicial review: power of federal courts to declare a statute or governmental action unconstitutional and void


Protected Rights

1791 - Bill of Rights - first 10 Amendments added to Constitution

First Amendment: guarantees rights of free speech, free press, and religion - "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech..." - Government may regulate the TIME, PLACE, and MANNER of speech - speech includes symbolic conduct

Fourth Amendment: protects against illegal searches

Fifth Amendment: ensures due process - Due Process and the Takings Clause - "No person shall be ... deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Procedural due process: ensures that before the government takes liberty or property, the affected person has a fair chance to oppose the action - the type of hearing the government must offer depends upon the importance of the property or liberty interest

The Takings Clause: prohibits a state from taking private property for public use without just compensation - A regulation that denies all beneficial use of property is a taking and requires compensation

Sixth Amendment: demands fair treatment for defendants in criminal prosecutions

Fourteenth Amendment: guarantees equal protection of the law - "No State shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

The Equal Protection Clause: requires that the government must treat people equally - regulations based on gender, race, or fundamental rights are generally void


Statutory Law

Statutes: Laws passed by Congress or state legislatures

Bill: A proposed statute


Common Law

Judge-made law - legal precedents created by appellate courts - common law evolves in awkward fits and starts because courts attempt to achieve two contradictory purposes: predictability and flexibility

Stare decisis: "let the decision stand" - describes a court's tendency to follow earlier cases - once a court has decided a particular issue, it will generally apply the same rule in future cases


Bystander Rule: The common-law bystander rule holds that, generally, no one has a duty to assist someone in peril unless the bystander himself created the danger - courts have carved some exceptions during the last 100 years, but the basic rule still stands


Administrative Law

Administrative agencies, e.g. FAA, make rules - Congress creates federal administrative agencies to supervise many industries - agencies promulgate rules and investigate and adjudicate cases

Agencies promulgate 2 rules: Legislative and Interpretive

Legislative Rules: have full effect of a statute

Interpretive Rules: Agency's interpretation of what the law already requires



Subpoena: An order to appear at a particular time and place

Subpoena duces tecum: requires the person to produce certain documents or things



Adjudicate: to hold a formal hearing about an issue and then decide it


Administrative Law Judge: (ALJ) An agency employee who acts as an impartial decision maker



Federal Rules of Civil Procedure


Administrative Procedures Act



Federal Aviation Administration


FARs - Federal Aviation Regulations - more appropriately - CFRs - Code of Federal Regulations


The Federal Aviation Administration is the national authority on civil aviation in the United States. Created in 1958, the FAA became a part of the Department of Transportation in 1966.

The FAA serves 9 major functions:


1. Regulation: The FAA is responsible for the regulation of aviation safety, airspace use, aircraft noise and suborbital spacecraft through laws, both created and enforced by the FAA called Federal Aviation Regulations. Additionally, the FAA may issue mandatory orders through an Airworthiness Directive (AD). An AD is designed to improve safety by changing the design or fabrication of an aircraft or aircraft component.


2. Certification: The FAA issues certifications for every person or business involved in civil aviation. Pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and even parachute riggers must be trained and evaluated in accordance with established guidelines found in the FARs. The FAA also certifies operations such as repair stations, flight schools and air carriers. Lastly, the FAA is the approval authority for aircraft and component design through the issuance of various type certificates.


3. Registration: All civil aircraft in the United States are required to be registered through the FAA. The FAA will issue the aircraft an “N-number” which serves the same purpose as a license plate. The FAA maintains files on every aircraft to ever be issued a registration number. The files contain information including a history of ownership as well as liens and encumbrances against the aircraft. One is also required register with the FAA, certain components, such as engines and propellers.


4. Security: Despite the FAA’s air carrier security function being transferred to the TSA through the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, the FAA maintains a strong presence in air security, when called upon congress to change existing protocols or explore new ones. After the attacks of Sept. 11, Congress directed the FAA to strengthen cockpit doors, change entry and exit policies to the flight deck and create training programs for flight crews for future threats. The FAA has also been ordered to explored concepts to monitor the cabin through video surveillance and prevent tampering of the transponder.


5. Cartography: The responsibility of producing the nation’s aeronautical charts has been transferred from the Department of Commerce’s National Ocean Service (NOS) to the FAA. Over 300 cartography professionals have been relocated to the Aeronautical Products Department (Aeronav) more recently called Aeronautical Information Services (AIS).


6. Education: The FAA provides several education services for the aviation industry, including periodic safety seminars and recertification programs for both pilot and mechanic examiners and instructors. The FAA also conducts its own in house training for its employees, mostly taking place at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City, OK. The most beneficial educational function the FAA provides is the publication of Advisory Circulars, which translate the FARs into common language.


7. Funding: Through the proceeds of aviation fuel taxes on general aviation and passenger ticket taxes on US commercial flights, the FAA is able to give matching funds for the construction of new airports and the repair and improvement of existing airports. The amount of funding the taxes have yielded is currently valued at 15 billion dollars, expended at a rate of 3 billion dollars a year.


8. Investigation: The FAA is charged with investigating nearly all civil aviation accidents and incidents occurring in the US, and some international accidents that involved US built aircraft. The FAA is not responsible for determining the cause of the accident. That is the responsibility of the National Transportation Safety Board. The FAA is able to combine its investigation of accidents and incidents with enforcement of violations of the FAR.


9. Operations: The FAA has a vast network of operations to oversee all facets of civil aviation in the United States. This network includes, but is not limited to:

- The Air Traffic Control System,

- Navaids,

- The Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center and

- The William J. Hughes Technical Center.

Through this network the FAA is able to conduct experimentation on new flight concepts, maintain records on personnel and equipment, provide a guiding system of beacons for aerial navigation and safely process air traffic in and around the nations’ airports.



Airworthiness Directives



Advisory Circulars



Aeronautical Information Services Groups



Airport Improvement Program


William J. Hughes Technical Center


Commercial Human Spaceflight



International Civil Aviation Organization

WWII proved advancement and potential of air transportation

Leaders around the world realized the ease which air transportation can affect international trade

Today ICAO sets standards for international travel and transportation of goods in the interest of safety and economic trades

Established “freedoms of the air”


ICAO Chicago Convention 1944.pdf
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ICAO abbreviations and codes.pdf
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International Air Transport Association

IATA was originally set up to regulate routes, rates and capacities for international travel which was found to be against anti-trust laws

Today IATA connects international airlines with travel agencies and acts as a clearinghouse to settle international debts 



Transport Security Administration

- Created in 2001 under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act

- Moved from DoT to DHS after DHS was created

- Responsible for inspecting and testing airport security measures

- Develops plans, policies, and strategies for transportation security threats and coordinates counter measures with other federal agencies

- Maintains the “No Fly” (suspected terrorists) and “Selectee” (additional security scrutiny) lists


Advanced Imaging Technology (full body scan)

Biometrics (fingerprints and retinal scans)

Bottled Liquid Scanners (for liquids more than 3.4 oz.)

Explosives Detection System (for checked baggage)

Explosives Trace System (swab for traces of explosives)

Liquid restrictions

Liquid explosive plot in August 2006

Temporarily and effectively banned passengers from bringing their own liquids, aerosols, and gels onto commercial aircraft.

Soon determined that small amounts of liquids posed no threat (no greater than 3.4 oz.)

Federal Air Marshal Service

Supervised by TSA

Deploys marshals on U.S. aircraft and in airports worldwide for protection, detection, response, and assessment

Maintains TSA preparedness

Trains and manages armed pilots

Trains TSA canine assets



Department of Transportation

- Houses a variety of federal agencies dealing with policy and regulation of various means of transportation of people and goods

- Issues foreign air carrier permits to foreign airlines by their nations to provide service to the US pursuant to treaty

- Consults with State Dept. in the approval process

Permit issuance requires Presidential approval

President may disapprove a specific foreign carrier only for foreign relations or national security reasons



Department of Homeland Security

- Third largest of the federal departments

- Includes 22 federal agencies

- Protects the nation against further terrorist attacks and responds to natural disasters

- Screens foreign students for flight schools, limited to aircraft of maximum gross takeoff weight of 12,500lbs or greater and must act on them within five days



Transportation Security Oversight Board

- Created in 2001 under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act

- Composed of the Secretaries of Homeland Security, Transportation, Defense, and Treasury; Attorney General, and CIA Director, along with a Presidential appointee representing the National Security Council

- Responsible for assuring the coordination and sharing of intelligence relating to threats against transportation




- First foreign attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor

- Approximately 3,000 casualties

- World Trade Center: both towers destroyed by hijacked airliners

- Pentagon: airliner crashed into the Pentagon

- Shanksville, PA: hijacked airliner plummeted to the ground, no survivors

Domestic Unrest

- The attack was absolutely shocking to the American public

- Unprecedented act of terrorism through the use of commercial aviation

- Led to questions of airport security: could this have been prevented?

- Devastating loss of an American symbol as well as many lives

- The public and the U.S. government demanded immediate action

Signed into Action

- In response to the rage and widespread outcry, Congress acted quickly in drafting and passing this act

- On 9.12.2001, the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act (ATSSSA) was created

- This act was passed within 2 months - amazingly fast when compared to standard bills and acts

Intentions of ATSSSA

- Replace the private contractors in charge of security with airport employees

- Increase security as it pertains to all modes of transportation

- Restructure the government to provide for a layered security approach: have individual agencies responsible for specific aspects of safety to identify threats quickly and efficiently

Implementation of ATSSSA

- Created the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

- Initially under the Dept. of Transportation but later moved to the Dept. of Homeland Security

- Gave the TSA authority to regulated security procedures at airports: Responsibilities include: checking and weighing baggage, reviewing passengers and supervising the check process

These employees were contractors that got rehired for the same job

- Developed a compensation program for victims of the attack

- Under DHS

- Started Transportation Security Oversight Board (TSOB)

Composed of seven members from various branches of the government

Meant to have security info shared across entities

Meant to stop security threats early

Make regulations that contribute to transportation safety


- Between 2001 and 2003 accepted loan guarantees for a total of $1.179 billion seven different carriers

- Created Victims Compensation Fund for litigations related to the attack

- Also created fund for the victims of 9/11

- Tax Deferment

Core strengths and weaknesses of ATSSSA

- Private to Public Oversight for security issues

- Improved Aviation Security: standardized the checking process

- Proved Government’s investment in preventing future acts of Terrorism

- Some Airlines went bankrupt-not all airlines got loan guarantees

- Reaction to new invasive security checks by TSA: e.g. public outrage to full-body scanners

- General distaste for air-travel due to increased security



Department of Commerce



National Ocean Service



National Transportation Safety Board

- Primary responsibility is to investigate transportation accidents, determine the “probable cause” of the accident, and recommend to the appropriate agencies, measures that might prevent similar accidents in the future

- One of the smallest federal agencies (about 300 employees)

- Responsible for coordinating and integrating the resources of the federal government and other organizations to support the efforts of state and local governments and the airline to meet the needs of airline disaster victims and their families

- Serves as 1st and 2nd levels of appeal for FAA enforcement action





Civil Aviation Medical Institute



National Aeronautics and Space Administration

- NASA’s general aviation research focuses

  • Propulsion, noise and emissions improvements to reduce environmental impacts
  • New flight deck displays to improve safety
  • Advanced metals and composites for general aviation applications
  • Aerodynamic improvements to increase aircraft speed, capacity, and fuel efficiency

- Administers the confidential Aviation Safety Reporting Program

- NASA R&D led to the super critical airfoil, now in use on high-performance aircraft, and the “Whitcomb winglet”



Civil Aeronautics Board



Air Transportation Stabilization Board

- Composed of the Sec. of Transportation, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Sec. of Treasury, and Comptroller General of the US

- Created from the Air Transportation Safety and System Act (2001)

- Compensates victims of attacks for their losses and to aid the recovery of US airlines from the financial consequences of the attacks



National Mediation Board

- Supervises union efforts to organize workers, elections, and conducts the compulsory mediation procedures the RLA requires as a mandatory step toward resolving major labor-management disputes within the airline industry



National Labor Relations Board

- Regulates all labor-management relations in all US industries except the airlines and railroads

- Supervises union organizing efforts and elections, and rules on unfair labor practice claims in the aerospace manufacturing industry and general aviation, except general aviation operators conducting common carrier operations (on-demand charters and emergency medical air transportation)



Federal Trade Commission



Department of Justice



Customs and Border Protection


Detect, interdict, and prevent acts of terrorism and the unlawful movement of people, illegal drugs and other contraband toward or across the borders of the United States.

Formed in 2005 to consolidate several law enforcement aviation programs

Two divisions:

Air and Marine

Worlds largest civilian law enforcement aviation program

700 pilots

Operate 272 aircrafts



US Immigration and Customs Enforcement

July 27, 2020 - New U.S. immigration guidance clarifies that new international students -- unlike continuing international students -- cannot come to American colleges to take a "100 percent" online course load this fall.



Occupational Safety and Health Administration



Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association


US State Department

The State Department





- Open skies is a call for a loosening or removal of the rules and regulations of the international aviation industry

- The Open Skies Agreement aims to create a free-market environment for the airline industry

- By creating such an agreement, the two countries working together aim to minimize government intervention in regards to passenger transportation


How to enact

- To initiate an open skies agreement, countries must enact a bilateral air transport agreement.

- This agreement is a contract to liberalize aviation services between two countries

- This allows airlines of both countries to send off commercial flights that cover the transport of passengers and cargoes of both countries.


Bilateral versus Multilateral Air Transport Agreements

- In a bilateral agreement, the countries in agreement will allow the airlines of each country to bring passengers to a third country or pick up passengers from the host country to the home country of the airline or to a third country in which the contracting states has existing open skies agreement

- A multilateral air services agreement is the same as a bilateral one, but it involves three or more countries


The Origin of Open Skies

- Since the beginning of conquered lands, the quest for true sovereignty has been well sought after.

- To truly obtain it, land, sea, and air boundaries must be set, and anyone who crosses them will be considered a trespasser.

- Throughout history, many planes were shot down, ships sunk, and land vehicles demobilized, to prevent “invasion,” whether it was intentional or not.

- As international competition grew to be conducting the most major airline, countries began to have growing nationalism.

- As many airlines were either fully or partially owned by different countries governments, the need for resolution was upon the world.

- As tensions grew, a solution came about: the Open Skies Agreements.


Common Open Skies Provisions

Most of the existing agreements include the following:

- No restrictions on international route rights, number of airlines, capacity, frequencies, and types of aircraft

- A fare can be discontinued only if both governments can come to agreement

- Designated airlines may enter into leasing agreements with airlines of either country, or with those of third countries.

- Model text includes procedures for resolving differences that arise under the created agreement

- Air carriers may choose to operate under the charter regulations of either country

- Each government agrees to observe high standards of aviation safety and security, and to offer assistance when needed

- Allow an airline of one country to operate all-cargo services between the other country and a third country, via flights that are not linked to its homeland.


Recent United States Open Skies Agreements

- In 1992, a huge step was taken when the Netherlands signed the first open skies agreement with the United States, immediately creating precedent and standards for other countries.

- Prior to this agreement, each country had a limit to how many times they could land in another country, at a fixed location

- In 2001, the USA signed a multilateral agreement with Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore.


Open Skies Agreements Today

Green lines represent the different flight paths of airlines throughout the world


1. The right granted by one state to another state or states to fly across its territory without landing


2. The right granted by one state to another state or states to land in its territory for non-traffic purposes


3. The right, in respect of scheduled international air services, granted by one state to another state to take on, in the territory of the first state, traffic destined for the home state of the carrier


4. The right, granted by one State to another State to take on, in the territory of the first State, traffic destined for the home State of the carrier


5. The right granted by one State to another state to put down and to take on, in the territory of the first State, traffic coming from or destined to a third State


6. The right of transporting, via the home State of the carrier, traffic moving between two other states

The 6th Freedom is not incorporated into widely recognized air service agreements


7. The right granted by one State to another State, of transporting traffic between the territory of the granting State and any third State with no requirement to include on such operation any point in the territory of the recipient state


8. The right of transporting cabotage traffic between two points in the territory of the granting State on a service which originates or terminates in the home country of the foreign carrier, outside the territory of the granting state.

Also known as “consecutive cabotage”


9. The right of transporting cabotage traffic of the granting State on a service performed entirely within the territory of the granting state. 

Also known as “Stand alone cabotage”



Cabotage is defined as a non-remunerated not-for-hire flight between two points within a foreign country, carrying residents whose travel begins and ends in that country.

The overall purposes of cabotage rules are to prohibit foreign aircraft from one country traveling into another country and picking up foreign nationals or citizens of the other foreign country and providing transportation to and between points within that foreign country.

It does not matter if the aircraft is flying for hire or not for hire, either situation is generally not allowed. 

Cabotage in the traditional sense, i.e. for hire, is almost universally prohibited.

Different countries have varying rules on cabotage, some allow it and others restrict it.

Although cabotage rules are different in various countries and usually incorporate the term "for hire," some countries do not allow even non-revenue passengers to be carried by a foreign aircraft within their boundaries. 

In the United States any required exemption for approval of any foreign carrier or aircraft, (private, corporate or other), such approval is issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation under 49 U.S.C. 49109(g).

While the DOT can issue exemptions it is important to note, “Rights to such traffic are usually entirely denied or severely restricted.”


AOPA article on Cabotage


Qantas fined for cabotage by DOT



In a multi-billion dollar collaborative effort between the FAA and NASA’s Airspace Operations and Safety Program, the Next Generation Air Transportation System will make air travel much safer, more flexible, and efficient.

System Priorities

- Multiple Runway Operations

With updated standards, improved technologies, safety analysis and modifications with the air traffic monitoring system’s procedures will enable better runway access.

- Data Communication

Much like the FMS systems in use today, there will be less cockpit to controller audio messages. Using what is similar to texting, controllers can deliver clearances, coordinates, and commands

- Performance Based Navigation

To improve access and flexibility point-to-point, by finding ways to leverage upcoming navigation technologies, such as satellite-based Area Navigation and Required Navigation Performance.

- Surface Operations and Data Sharing

Most of the enhancements in this category, focus on increasing surface efficiency through animation as well surface surveillance to increase predictability and provide measurable and actionable improvements. 

Localizer-Like Precision with Vertical Guidance (LPV)

- LPV infrastructure has been introduced to 1,686 airports

- 3,424 new LPV approaches nationwide

- Allows instrument pilots safe access to more airports in less than visual conditions

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B)

- In preparation for NextGen, 634 new ADS-B ground stations have been erected nationwide

- Provides aircraft with traffic and weather information

- Increases safety due to better situational awareness in the cockpit


NextGen: Tactical Air Traffic Management

Super-Density Operations

The Aviation Systems Division identifies 3 specific uses of TATM:

1. Increasing Capacity using closely spaced approaches.

2.  Maximizing the arrival rate by closely monitoring the spacing of aircraft during final approach.

3. Integrating departures and arrivals to fully utilize all runways

High Density En-Route Operations

The En-Route airspace is structured differently compared to Super-Density Airspace.

NextGen will focus on the use of Tactical Air Traffic Management automation in the aircraft and ground-based Air Navigation Service Provider system.

This system will provide conflict detection in the presence of uncertainty, and robust automated resolution logic. NASA is identifying innovative methods for using automation to enable separation assurance in the presence of a three times growth in traffic over the next few years.

In a similar manner, research is being conducted to identify technologies and procedures that would allow user preferred routing under certain traffic conditions.

For example, while on a flight and a pilot wishes to change the course and altitude because of turbulence or another non-planned event, the controller will be able to allow that if the system does not detect conflict with other traffic.


NextGen Weather Processor (NWP)

The NWP is the fully automated weather system, which will ID hazards en route and translate specific weather information relevant to flight operations up to eight hours in advance.

The new system will give controllers a smoother use of the airspace and be able to reduce delays.

Additionally, the system will give a current weather picture and will enable flights to be processed accordingly as specific weather conditions are known or predicted.


Aviation Weather Display

The new display is part of the NextGen Weather Processor (NWP).

It is a combination of multiple older weather products (Weather & Radar Processor, Integrated Terminal Weather System, Corridor Integrated Weather System) and will now allow for a more streamlined system.

With this new system, icing and turbulence products will be integrated with relevant radar data.

These changes create a new weather display that can be used “at a glance” for both terminal or en route users.

Future of Next Gen – ADS-B


- As of 2014, 634 ADS-B ground stations completed nationwide

- Integrated into 22 of 24 en-route ATC facilities

- Airport Surface Detection System-Model X allows ATC to track surface movement of aircraft and ground vehicles

Future of ADS-B

- In 2016, the FAA plans to install three ADS-B ground stations in Mexico, improving coverage over the Gulf of Mexico

- The new stations would allow 5 NM aircraft separation compared to the current 100 NM requirement

- Implementation of new capability called In-Trail Procedures allowing for aircraft to safely climb or descend with separation reduced to 15 NM


Future of Next Gen – Data Comm


- Data Comm allows controllers to send digital messages to pilots in the cockpit and allows the pilots to acknowledge the message

- Prototype Data Comm equipment used to provide pre-departure clearances as ongoing trials at Memphis and Newark Airports

- August 2015, the FAA achieved Initial Operating Capability for controller-pilot data link communications for tower services at Salt Lake City.

Future of Data Comm

- The FAA and the industry advisory group agreed to deploy Data Comm to towers at 56 airports by the end of calendar year 2016

- The FAA is encouraging the airline industry to equip additional Data Comm on flight decks

- The FAA is beginning the second phase, which will link aircraft in flight with 20 air route traffic control centers in the continental US by 2021, which will allow for airborne reroutes.




Cristina Zambrana - AOPA Dec 2021

FAA ADB-S opt out per 91.225 



Federalism and Preemption

- Express Preemption and the Supremacy Clause

Case 2: Northwest Airlines, Inc. v. Minnesota, 322 U.S. 292 (1944)

Northwest Airlines



- Implied Preemption: Conflict and Field

Conflict preemption: said to exist either when compliance with both the federal and state laws is a “physical impossibility,” or when the state law stands as an “obstacle” to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.

Field preemption:  exists when a court determines that a federal regulatory scheme is so pervasive that Congress must have intended to leave no room for a state to supplement it. Courts generally understand field preemption to mean that federal law “thoroughly occupies” the “legislative field” in question, e.g., the field of aviation safety. Field preemption analysis comes up frequently before courts, particularly in the arena of aviation safety.


Case 5: Rowe v. New Hampshire Motor Transport Ass’n, 552 U.S. 364 (2008)


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