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Aviation, Aerospace & Defence

Legal work in the aviation, aerospace and defence sector requires lawyers who understand this sector: the regulatory and cost pressures faced by airlines, the complexities of the supply chain as well as the practice of contracting with the Ministry of Defence and other suppliers.

Our team has expertise in crucial areas such as:

  • Alliancing and outsourcing transactions, including outsourcing of mission critical passenger services systems
  • Public private partnerships and other government projects
  • M&A
  • Competition issues
  • Contentious and non-contentious intellectual property issues
  • Defence procurement contracts
  • Sector-specific HR/employment issues
  • Aircraft maintenance
  • Dispute resolution and health, safety and regulatory

Civil aerospace

We act for a large number of OEMs and suppliers in this sector and are alive to the issues our clients face: whether it is the significance of IP infringement or the growing number of M&A transactions taking place as businesses continue to look to meet the demand for increasing orders of commercial aircraft.

Proven track record

  • Advising Meggitt and UTC Aerospace Systems (Goodrich) on arrangements to supply components and sub-contracted manufacturing for projects such as the A380, the Joint Strike Fighter and Boeing 777
  • Assisting GKN on the property and environmental aspects of the £1 billion sale of its 50% stake in AgustaWestland
  • Advising SITA on the creation of a ground breaking joint venture with Airbus to develop and commercialise mobile telecommunications on-board aircraft
  • Supporting QinetiQ on the creation of QinetiQ Ventures, a new technology venture fund
  • Advising military equipment manufacturers, suppliers and maintenance engineers, during military and any criminal inquiry, and including representation through Inquests following serious incidents


Our aviation team brings together experts from across the firm that act for a broad range of aviation clients from airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Delta and Singapore Airlines to airports such as London City Airport and London Luton Airport.

Proven track record

  • Advising international airlines, including British Airways, Air Pacific, Brussels Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Malaysia Airlines, Norwegian Air, Olympic Air and Oman Air on the outsourcing of their passenger systems services to the likes of Amadeus, SITA and Sabre
  • Advising Thai Airways, a party to the damages action brought against British Airways in relation to the high-profile 2010 airfreight cartel
  • Advising a number of airlines at a strategic and an operational level on handling holiday back pay claims and in response to the Supreme Court's decision in British Airways Plc v Williams & Others
  • Defended an IP infringement action brought by Virgin Atlantic in the Supreme Court against Zodiac Seats UK Limited regarding the manufacture of airline interiors
  • Acting for dnata (part of the Emirates Group) on acquisition of the entire issued share capital of UK-based Stella Travel Services, one of the UK's leading travel businesses


While the defence sector is facing challenging times following significant global defence spending cuts, there are still significant opportunities available to industry on complex defence equipment and infrastructure programmes.

Our team has market-leading expertise in this area and truly understands the intricacies and politics within defence contracting, having acted for the UK Ministry of Defence for 20 years (including advising on the CVF aircraft carrier project and the £20 billion nuclear submarine programme).

Our team also regularly advises companies contracting with the UK MoD including advising on prime contracts and contracts in the supply chain. We are fully familiar with all the contractual issues on defence contracting including DEFCONS and the recent regulations relating to pricing that have been introduced under the Defence Reform Act.

Proven track record

Big-ticket experience includes advising the 'Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d'Armement' (OCCAR) on the renegotiation of its contract for the development and supply of up to 170 A400M military planes. We have recently advised the UK Ministry Defence on Project Marshall - a long-term public private partnership to deliver military air traffic management services in the UK and overseas.

The team

Clark Sargent leads our 25-strong sector team.

International focus

In addition to the international airline and aviation clients, the firm has a strong international presence. Philippe Rousseau in our Paris office provides risk advice in relation to supply chain contracts for clients such as Meggitt. Our offices in Dubai, Guangzhou and Singapore deliver advice to our clients based in those areas.

In your shoes

There is no substitute for practical experience. Several of the team are International Air Transport Association (IATA) trained and many honed their commercial understanding through secondments to British Airways, GKN and Ministry of Defence.

We are familiar with DEFCONS, and as a member of the ADS Group, Royal Aeronautical Society and the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium we have a comprehensive understanding of an ever changing sector.


We hold regular Aerospace and Defence forums to facilitate debate on topics of shared interest for senior executives (held under 'Chatham House' rules). Previous speakers have included Colin Stuart, VP Marketing of Airbus, Mike Turner CBE former CEO of BAe Systems, Sir Colin Terry KBE, Non Executive Chairman of Meggitt PLC, Robin Southwell, CEO of EADS UK, Alfred Rolington, Chief Executive of Cyber Security Intelligence Limited and Martin Rolfe, Managing Director of National Air Traffic Services Limited.

We also hold regular networking dinners for senior in-house lawyers/M&A executives in the industry. Feedback has been extremely positive - that these dinners are very useful as a peer-to-peer networking platform.

Key Contact

Clark Sargent
Clark Sargent

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