September 21, 2016 Articles

Recent Developments in Aviation Litigation 2016: Preemption

By Erika Maurice and Vincent Lesch

Federal Aviation Act, General Aviation Safety, and Products Liability
U.S. courts consistently hold that the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, Pub. L. No. 85-726, recodified at 49 U.S.C. ยง 40101 et seq. (2006) (FAAct), and its corresponding regulations preempt individual state law standards of care in the context of claims related to aviation safety. Even though the statute originally contained no express preemption clause, many circuits have concluded that the realm of aviation safety is field-preempted. See, e.g., Abdullah v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 181 F.3d 363 (3d Cir. 1999). Courts continue to grapple with how to determine the boundaries of this preempted field and what claims or standards of care fall within it.

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