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Tarmac Delays . . . Tick, Tock, Tick ,Tock . . . .

Tarmac delays have long been a problem for the aviation industry, with the possibility of substantial fines in cases where there is a long delay in returning to the gate.  Congress, heeding the complaints from the industry, implemented new language in the FAA reauthorization act, making it easier for airlines to avoid enforcement action in the case of departure delays.  As a result, DOT has now issued new enforcement guidance that takes these changes into account.

Under DOT’s existing tarmac delay rule, 14 CFR 259.4, a tarmac delay is defined as the “holding of an aircraft on the ground either before taking off or after landing with no opportunity for passengers to deplane.”  Thus, once the last passenger door shuts, the clock begins and continues to tick until a door is opened allowing passengers to deplane.   However, earlier this year, Congress included a revision in the FAA reauthorization statute that stated that a tarmac delay begins “after the main aircraft door is closed in preparation for departure” and ends when a U.S. carrier “begin[s] to return the aircraft to a suitable disembarkation point.”  As a result, the regulatory standard did not match the newly stated Congressional language, requiring a new rulemaking by DOT.

In the interim, and in light of the anticipated rulemaking, DOT has now stated that it will not pursue enforcement action against “covered carriers” (which includes both U.S carriers and foreign carriers, even though the statute only covers U.S. carriers) whom do not comply with its existing tarmac delay regulations, with respect to departure delays, so long as covered carriers begin to return aircraft to the gate or another place for disembarkation no later than three hours for domestic flights and no later than four hours for international flights.

With respect to arriving flights at an airport, including diverted flights, DOT will continue to apply its tarmac delay rule as written—carriers must allow passengers to deplane within three hours for domestic flights and four hours for international flights.  Furthermore, carriers must continue to abide by the remaining obligations and assurances under DOT’s rule, such as providing food and water to passengers within two hours of a delay, etc. (14 CFR 259.4(b)(3)-(10)).

The amendment to the tarmac delay statute also codifies the length of tarmac delays in 49 U.S.C. § 42301 by defining an “excessive tarmac delay” as a tarmac delay of more than three hours for a domestic flight and more than four hours for an international flight.  This is not a major change because DOT’s existing regulations currently define tarmac delays as three and four hours, but now there is no discretion, as the length of time is codified.

Bottom line get your passengers off the plane before three or four hours … or in the case of a departure delay, start turning yourself around to a gate!

Tarmac Delays . . . Tick, Tock, Tick ,Tock . . . .

The Airline Symposium Webinar Series – “Airline Family Assistance & The Role of Station Personnel”

Over the last nine years, The Airline Symposium held annually in February, has continued to grow in both numbers and profile.  In order to bring you the benefit of the Symposium all year long, we are pleased to announce The Airline Symposium Webinar Series.

Working with Deborah Thompson, a recognized expert in airline emergency response and family assistance, MLA will present a series of one-hour webinars “zooming in” on discreet subjects in the area.

The first of the series will focus on the hours immediately following an incident/accident and the role and response of station personnel. 

Among other subjects, we will address:

  • What to do until reinforcements show up
  • The notification process
  • Dealing with passengers and families and the special issues they present
  • Dealing with the airport and first responders, including fire, police and the Red Cross
  • The media
  • Coordinating effectively with code share partners and other carriers at the airport
  • Managing Third Party Providers
  • Protecting the “brand”
  • Managing and “protecting” your own stations personnel

The Symposium Webinars Series gives us the opportunity to “drill down” on specific subjects of special interest to various segments of our Symposium audience.  View it as an extension, an in depth look, at subjects talked about or touched on at the Symposium.

The May 14, 2015, webinar will focus on the station’s unique role in the hours following an event and the special challenges they confront.  Future webinars will focus on, among other areas, how to select a third-party provider and a host of areas directed at providing a “nuts and bolts” perspective, in a convenient format focused on reaching the greatest number of airline personnel.


All webinars in the Symposium Webinar Series will be complimentary. 

The Airline Symposium Webinar Series – “Airline Family Assistance & The Role of Station Personnel”

UAS Symposium – So You Want to Be in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Business: One Year Later

June 11, 2015 – 9:30 am – 4:30 pm

NTSB Conference Center
420 L’Enfant Plaza 10th Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20594 

On June 26, 2014, legacy McKenna Long & Aldridge convened its first UAS Symposium.  Attended by over 200 registrants, we now find ourselves one year later.  The Federal Aviation Administration has been accepting and acting on exemption petitions, civil/commercial UAS operation have begun and the FAA has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing an entirely new regulatory regime for the civil/commercial UAS industry.

This Symposium will, one year later, address where we are and where we’re going.  In addition to the following, subjects, you will hear from experts from the FAA, the NTSB, the UAS industry and the legal profession on not only how to get into the commercial UAS business, but what to expect in the next 12 to 18 months.

  • A review of the UAS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, published on February 15, 2015, including the public comments and where we go from here.
  • The Section 333 exemption process, including its current status, requirements and timelines.
  • What you need to know and do if you’re going to be in the UAS business, whether you’re a user, operator or manufacturer.
  • Why you should like and/or dislike the regulations being proposed by the FAA?
  • Privacy issues and how you can deal with them.
  • What is the role of the National Telecommunications Information Agency?  Why you should care about it and what you can do about it.
  • What problems will UAS manufacturers confront in a regulated environment?
  • Is UAS insurance available and, even if it is, do you need it?
  • How to manage and control risks associated with the world of UAS?
  • What happens if you have a UAS accident/incident?

Click here to review the agenda.

About Our UAS Group

MLA’s UAS Practice Group includes attorneys and professionals who are well-versed in FAA regulatory and enforcement issues, liability, risk management, insurance, commercial/contract issues, intellectual property, government affairs and other legal issues involved in operating UAS in the commercial world.

Who Should Attend

Any company which wants to be (or isn’t sure whether it should be) operating in some aspect of the civil UAS business. 



Information and Registration

Barbara Butler, Symposium Coordinator
Email:  bbutler@mckennalong.com

Sponsored by The Tesla Foundation Group and McKenna Long & Aldridge 

UAS Symposium – So You Want to Be in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Business: One Year Later