Justia Aviation Opinion Summaries

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The DC Circuit dismissed petitions for review of several Federal Aviation Administration actions related to the proposed expansion of the Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport. The court held that it lacked jurisdiction because none of petitioners' challenges involves an ongoing case or controversy. In this case, petitioners lack standing to pursue their challenge to the FAA's decision to withdraw its concurrence in GDOT's written reevaluation, because petitioners' injuries are not fairly traceable to the challenged action. Furthermore, petitioners' remaining challenges concerning the FAA's concurrence in GDOT's written re-evaluation, the FAA's denial of reconsideration of that concurrence, and the FAA's withdrawal of the airport expansion from the then-pending commercial service environmental assessment are all moot. View "Louie v. Dickson" on Justia Law

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The Great Lakes Pilotage Act requires foreign vessels and American vessels participating in foreign trade to hire an American or Canadian maritime pilot to assist in navigating the difficult waters of the Great Lakes. Shippers challenged the pilot rates for the 2016 commercial shipping season under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Shippers claimed that the 2016 Rule set an artificially inflated pilot rate that caused significant harm to the industry. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's decision upholding parts of the 2016 Rule setting higher compensation targets for the pilots. The court also affirmed the district court's holding that several parts of the rule are unsupported by the administrative record. The court held that, although remand without vacatur is the exception rather than the rule, the district court acted within its discretion here, given the disruption likely to occur from reallocating rates paid several years ago. View "American Great Lakes Ports Ass'n v. Schultz" on Justia Law

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Hughes bought a ticket from Southwest to fly to Chicago. Just before the flight was to board, Southwest canceled it. Hughes, who chose an alternate flight through Omaha, claims that the cancellation was because Southwest ran out of de-icer and that no other airlines had a similar problem. He claims he incurred additional costs for lodging and similar expenses. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of his breach of contract claim. There was no breach; the contract allows the airline to cancel and either reschedule the passenger or refund the fare. There is no implied duty to avoid cancellation. View "Brian Hughes v. Southwest Airlines Co." on Justia Law

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In 1999, the Taylors purchased land near a New Mexico Air Force base to raise calves. The Air Force began flying training missions over the land, sometimes “no more than 20 feet . . . off the deck.” In 2008, the Taylors granted Wind Energy an exclusive five-year option for an easement on the Taylors’ property, for “wind resource evaluation, wind energy development, energy transmission and related wind energy development uses.” In 2012, Air Force employees suggested to Wind Energy that the FAA would not issue a “No Hazard” designation for the air space above the Taylors’ land, which would be “fatal to the construction of planned wind turbines.” Wind Energy exercised its contractual right to terminate the agreement. The Taylors sued, claiming that the Air Force’s informal advice to Wind Energy caused a regulatory taking of their property interest in their contract and that the flyovers effected a physical taking. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint. Wind Energy’s termination was not a breach of the agreement so the Taylors had no property right in the continuation of that agreement nor did they have any investment-backed expectations. Any advice given by Air Force employees did not amount to an FAA denial. The Taylors did not provide factual allegations of how the flights “directly, immediately, and substantially interfere” with their quiet enjoyment and use of the land View "Taylor v. United States" on Justia Law

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FlyersRights claimed that airlines were not giving passengers sufficient notice of their right to compensation for delays in flights and urged the Department to issue regulations requiring the airlines to print written summaries of passengers' rights on all international airline tickets, including information about how passengers suffering from flight delays might be compensated. The DC Circuit held that FlyersRights has at least one member with independent standing to sue the Department and therefore FlyersRights has associational standing to sue on behalf of its members. On the merits, the court denied FlyersRights' petition for review of the Department's denial of its request for rulemaking as arbitrary and in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The court held that the Department adequately explained why it denied the request for rulemaking, and the Department's finding that there was insufficient evidence of consumer confusion to warrant a rulemaking was also supported. View "Flyers Rights Education Fund v. Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of the FAA and NPS's efforts to regulate commercial sightseeing flights over national parks. The Air Tour Management Act of 2000 directs the FAA and NPS to "make every effort" to establish rules governing such flights within two years of the first application. After determining that it has jurisdiction over this mandamus petition under the All Writs Act, the DC Circuit held that petitioners had associational standing to seek relief. In this case, petitioners' members showed cognizable aesthetic and recreational injury that could be redressed by mandamus relief. On the merits, the court granted a writ of mandate compelling the FAA and NPS to regulate air tours at seven parks where they have injured members. The court analyzed the six TRAC factors and concluded that mandamus relief was warranted here where the agencies have failed to comply with their statutory mandate for the past nineteen years. The court ordered the agencies to produce a schedule within 120 days of the issuance of this opinion for bringing all twenty-three parks into compliance. View "In re: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit challenging the Navy Secretary's refusal to grant him a waiver of statutory requirements that govern his eligibility for incentive pay. After determining that plaintiff has abandoned his substantive challenge to the waiver denial, the DC Circuit held that the question of whether the Secretary complied with the process outlined in the applicable regulation is judicially reviewable. On the merits of plaintiff's procedural claim, the court held that nothing in Instruction 7220.87 obligates the Secretary to seek updated endorsements, and plaintiff gave the court no reason to conclude that the Secretary abused his discretion by relying on the old endorsements or by considering plaintiff's performance data. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Secretary. View "Stewart v. McPherson" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit dismissed the State's petition challenging the FAA's amended flight paths to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport as untimely. Although the State acknowledged that its petition was filed well after the statutory sixty-day review window, it claimed reasonable grounds for the delay. The court held, however, that the State's delay was extreme and it lacked reasonable grounds for missing the statutory deadline. The court explained that the key distinction between this case and City of Phoenix v. Huerta, 869 F.3d 963 (D.C. Cir. 2017), is the FAA's near constant engagement with petitioner City of Phoenix throughout the period between the new flight paths' implementation and the City's late petition. In this case, throughout the more than two and one-half years during which the State delayed filing its petitioner, its communications with the FAA were almost entirely self-initiated, sporadic and primarily through the Working Group. The court also denied the State's motion to amend as moot. View "Maryland v. Federal Aviation Administration" on Justia Law

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Horry County, South Carolina filed an action in magistrates court to eject Skydive Myrtle Beach, Inc., from a hangar at the Grand Strand Airport in North Myrtle Beach. The magistrates court found Skydive did not have any right to occupy the hangar. The circuit court affirmed the ejection. Skydive appealed to the court of appeals, which dismissed the appeal on the ground it was moot. The South Carolina Supreme Court granted Skydive's petition for a writ of certiorari and reversed, finding the appeal was not moot. However, on the merits, the Supreme Court agreed with the magistrates court and the circuit court that Skydive had no right to occupy the hangar. Thus, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court. View "Skydive Myrtle Beach v. Horry Cty." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of the unexplained disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 somewhere over the Southern Indian Ocean in the early hours of March 8, 2014. Representatives of many of the passengers filed suit in United States, alleging claims under the Montreal Convention against Malaysia's national airline at the time of the flight, its current national airline, and the airliners' insurers, as well as claims against Boeing, which manufactured the aircraft in Washington state. After the lawsuits were centralized into a multidistrict litigation in the district court, the district court granted appellees' motion to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds. The DC Circuit held that the district court did not clearly abuse its discretion in dismissing the lawsuits for forum non conveniens. In this case, the district court carefully weighed the relevant public and private interest factors and reasonably concluded that Malaysia is a more convenient forum to try the claims. View "Smith v. Malaysia Airlines Berhad" on Justia Law