Norton White has been described as having the largest and premier aviation practice in Australia.  We advise clients globally and act throughout Australia, the Pacific and Asia for the aerospace industry and its insurers on liability, regulatory and commercial matters.

Our clients include aviation underwriters and brokers, airlines, aircraft and helicopter operators, maintenance organisations, flying schools - the many businesses who support the aviation industry.

We also have a significant aircraft financing practice, acting for both operators and financiers.  Members of the group are experienced in all aspects of aircraft finance, from operating leases to mortgage finance. 

Norton White exclusively acts for airlines, operators and related companies such as insurers.  We do not accept instructions to act against airlines for plaintiffs on passenger or cargo claims.

The aviation industry is highly regulated and complex. It includes international conventions and local regulations covering:

  • Safety
  • WHS
  • Airports
  • pilot training
  • noise and environment
  • air navigation
  • cargo
  • aviation insurance
  • transport security
  • terrorism
  • unruly passengers
  • liability for aircraft accidents and damage caused by aircraft.

There is also a web of bilateral and multilateral agreements between countries dealing with traffic rights to and from each country. In Australia, many of these laws have been in a state of near constant change for over 30 years.

Norton White lawyers have a thorough understanding of the matrix of these laws and conventions that regulate and impact the aviation industry.

+Liability and Dispute Resolution

  • Defending and handling major aviation litigation and claims arising from aircraft accidents
  • Defence of cargo and passenger liability claims
  • Advising on and defending product liability claims
  • Risk management for the minimisation of liability of airlines and aircraft operators
  • Appearing at investigations and inquests

+Regulatory and Investigations

  • Advising and representing airlines and aircraft operators in relation to regulatory and administrative law issues involving:

    • International Conventions
    • Civil Aviation Act, Regulations and Orders,
    • Air Navigation Act
    • Transport security
    • Noise and environmental issues
    • other legislation affecting airlines and aircraft operators in Australia
  • Advising on and representing airlines and aircraft operators in negotiations with:

    • Civil Aviation Safety Authority
    • The Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities
    • The ATSB
    • The Department of Home Affairs
  • Defending regulatory investigations and administrative actions such as ‘show cause’ notices

  • Advising Government and industry committees involved in the formulation of legislative controls for the aviation industry

+Commercial Aviation

We have extensive experience providing practical and strategic advice on commercial aviation matters. We consider that clients are best served by small teams of experienced lawyers who are focused on the delivery of timely, practical outcomes. We regularly advise on:

  • Advising and acting for financiers and operators in relation to all forms of aircraft finance
  • advising and representing international, national and regional airlines and aircraft operators in general commercial transactions for the acquisition, leasing, charter and operation of aircraft and in relation to carrying on business as national or international passenger and cargo carriers, including the whole range of operating agreements from Ground Handling Agreements to Code Share Agreements
  • acquisition of aircraft worldwide - both purchase and leasing
  • aircraft financing
  • acting and advising in relation to competition law issues
  • Employment and contractor agreements
  • aviation specific contracts
  • purchase/sale of aviation businesses
  • Sale and purchase of aircraft and aerospace products and aircraft finance and operating leases;
  • due diligence
  • Service and maintenance supply contracts
  • Short term and long term charter agreements, cross-hire and other operating agreements
  • Code share and agency agreements
  • Conditions of carriage and ticket conditions
  • Ground handling contracts
  • Airport and real property leases

Our recent experience includes:

  • advising on the acquisition, leasing and security arrangement for new passenger aircraft, business jets and helicopters
  • advising on the acquisition and importation into Australia of multiple passenger jet aircraft from Europe, the United States and Asia
  • acting in cross-border purchase and sale of aircraft and helicopters including export and import requirements
  • advising on the acquisition, chartering and management of business, passenger jets and helicopters
  • transacting on behalf of clients on the international register under the Cape Town Convention
  • advising on the sale and purchase of companies and businesses operating aviation assets and businesses


The airports industry is complex and highly regulated, and that is why we believe legal work in this field is best undertaken by specialist expert practitioners.  At Norton White, airports and aviation law is in our DNA.

+ Regulatory

We regularly advise on regulatory issues relating to airports, including:

  • dealing with the Departments of Infrastructure and Home Affairs, CASA, Aviation and Maritime Security Division and regulators in other jurisdictions

  • requirements under legislation such as the Airports Act, Aviation Transport Security Act, Civil Aviation Act, Air Navigation Act as well as Part 139 and the MOS

  • protection of airspace and controlled activities

  • compliance with National Airports Safeguarding Framework (NASF), including in connection with proposed property developments

  • Master Plans and Major Development Plans

  • structuring – to ensure ownership / operational regulatory compliance

  • obtaining permissions, authorisations and exemptions

  • security obligations for airports and others under the Aviation Transport Security Act

  • contesting fines, ‘show cause’ notices and other administrative or criminal actions

  • contributing to Government policy reviews and initiatives in the airport space

+ Commercial

We also advise on a range of commercial and transactional arrangements connected with airports. Our experience includes:

  • reviewing and negotiating a range of airport-related contracts and arrangements, including:

    • airport conditions of use

    • ground handling agreements

    • airside indemnities

    • airport alternate agreements

    • terminal service agreements and airfield services agreements

  • asset leases and hire arrangements

  • real property leases – both on and off the airport site

  • competition issues and fair access

+ Dispute Resolution

Given the complex nature of airports and airport-related business and the high value of assets utilised at airports, it is inevitable that from time to time disputes will arise.

Our litigation team has a wide range of experience in dispute resolution relating to airport matters and can confidently guide you through the dispute process.

We advise clients on:

  • disputes over the quantum and payment of airport charges

  • accidents and incidents at airports

  • aircraft-to-aircraft collisions, including the Virgin A330 impact with Jetstar A330 at Melbourne Airport

  • disputes relating to numerous vehicle-to-aircraft collisions

+ Government Procurement and Concessions

Government procurement is an important part of many of our clients’ businesses. The requirements of government bodies are often quite different to a business-to-business or consumer arrangement and vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The rules around tendering can also be more complex.

Norton White has extensive experience in drafting, negotiating, amending and managing a wide range of Local, State and Commonwealth government contracts. We have advised on a range of concession or licence agreements involving ports, airports, national or state land use rights and other transport infrastructure.

Our experience includes:

  • negotiating with all levels of State, Territory and Commonwealth governments

  • advising on government tenders, procurements and other approaches to market, including:

    • assisting clients to prepare responses
    • liaising with government bodies
    • raising issues with or disputing a particular tender process
  • acting in connection with subcontracting and ‘back to back’ / ‘flow through’ arrangements

  • advising on compliance with government procurement rules and probity issues

  • government contract templates – including head contracts, subcontracts, panels and standing offers and agreements for the supply of various goods and services

  • providing advice on liability, risk and insurance regimes

  • assisting a client with tendering for and entering into arrangements for air ambulance services with the NSW Government negotiating contract amendments with the Commonwealth