Our international team, spread across 30 offices, advises on all legal issues in commercial aerospace including all intellectual property, IT, data analysis, industrial procurement, through life support agreements, customer financing and asset management matters and disputes. We handle the largest, most innovative aircraft financings and have unrivalled industry wide experience of aircraft and engine through-life maintenance and support solutions.
We also help our clients to navigate the rapid advances in technology within the sector. The impact of digitalisation, the growth of interconnected products and equipment (the so-called industrial Internet of Things), the emergence of 'Big Data' and the rapid advances in machine learning and AI technologies are radically re-shaping many industries, and aerospace is no exception. In aerospace, a particular area of focus has been on the impact of the industrial Internet of Things. Advances in sensor and communications technologies are enabling volumes of performance data to be collected on an unprecedented scale from aircraft. The application of improved analytics to these big data sets is in turn delivering significant steps forward in predictive maintenance, safety and future design improvements.
We have in depth experience of advising clients on the legal issues which arise in relation to these transformational changes, such as:
- Legal issues surrounding artificial intelligence;
- Management and exploitation of big data;
- Development and implementation of BlockChain technology
- Cyber and IT security.
We are also currently very active in acting for airlines in relation to OEM failures, particularly Trent 1000, LEAP and MAX.
We have extensive experience not only in relation to traditional aftermarket support arrangements between OEMs and MROs and their customers, such as time and materials-based agreements and fixed price overhauls, but also on the increasing range of risk transfer arrangements, usage-based or "power by the hour" agreements.
We handle these arrangements on behalf of manufacturers and repair and overhaul contractors, covering not only engine shop maintenance programmes, but also for airframe maintenance services, component and rotable overhaul or management agreements, including availability contracting.
Hourly usage agreements frequently present complications for future leasing and financing arrangements and for other elements of the manufacturer's own supply chain, such as where a risk and revenue sharing structure has been adopted. Our experience across the entire supply chain enables us to avoid or resolve these challenges.
Our work covers the full spectrum of these contracts, from request for proposal through equipment selection to contracting, financing and delivery. We aim to ensure appropriate commercial risk transfer, to minimise uncertainty and ensure regulatory compliance on matters such as continuing airworthiness management. Major anti-trust issues are growing.
Our anti-bribery and corruption practice covers the design and implementation of compliance programmes, from risk assessment to drafting, embedding and training on policies and procedures. We advise on the day-to-day operation of those programmes and how to react when "red flags" come to light or there is suspicion of impropriety. We conduct investigations at the behest of the company, keeping in mind the possible need for, or benefits of, self-disclosure, and advice on money laundering issues and reporting obligations. We advise and represent businesses subject to external investigation and prosecution, including in relation to deferred prosecution agreements or other leniency programmes.
In the aerospace sector there has been considerable focus on the use of intermediaries to generate sales in overseas markets and other third party routes to market such as distributors, spare parts suppliers and overhaul contractors. We regularly advise on the local law governing use of intermediaries: although they are restricted in some countries there are others where they are mandatory, particularly if the supplier wants some presence in an overseas territory. We also advise on risk assessment and contractual engagement terms including ethical conduct undertakings, termination provisions and remuneration structures.
We advise many businesses on anti-trust issues with a current focus on implications of CFM/IATA settlement agreement and Conduct Policies.