Category Archives: Air travel rules and regulations

Airport security

TSA Collected $765,000 in Loose Change from Airport Security Bins in 2015

Have you ever had to take out loose change from your pockets before going through airport screenings? Most likely you were in a rush, having trouble keeping track of all the different items you had to take out and take off and place haphazardly into the security bins, and were more concerned about not forgetting your wallet, watch and electronics. Ever wondered what happened to your coins? Did you know that there’s a specific law about what should happen to your coins?

49 USC § 44945(a) Disposition of Unclaimed Money.— [U]nclaimed money recovered at any airport security checkpoint shall be retained by the Transportation Security Administration and shall remain available until expended for the purpose of providing civil aviation security as required in this chapter.

According to a TSA report, “Unclaimed money is money that passengers inadvertently leave behind at airport screening checkpoints. In most cases, this consists of coins that passengers remove from their pockets so that metal detectors do not sound.”

An ABC News article wrote, “The biggest donors to the TSA last year [2015] were passengers at Los Angeles International Airport, who left behind $55,086.39 in change. Folks at Miami International Airport left $50,955.58 and at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport left behind $43,715.81. Approximately $9,265.25 of the total funds left behind and collected by the TSA was foreign currency.”

In total, approximately $765,000 was collected in loose change in 2015. Congress continues to debate the Loose Change Act, which would give the money to certain non-profit organizations instead.

Getting air travelers safely to their destinations includes more than just safety on the jet; care for air passengers at the gates and in the terminals requires more under the law of "Common Carriers"

Shooting Outside Security Checkpoint in Baggage Area May Still Be Airlines Responsibility

Getting air travelers safely to their destinations includes more than just safety on the jet; care for air passengers at the gates and in the terminals requires more under the law of "Common Carriers"
Getting air travelers safely to their destinations includes more than just safety on the jet. The airlines’ duty of care for air passengers at the gates and in the terminals requires more under the legal doctrine of “Common Carriers”

A mentally imbalanced shooter at the Fort Lauderdale Florida Airport may have opened up several airlines to potential liability claims by the injured travelers and the families of those who died. Last week’s shooting at the Hollywood Fort Lauderdale International Airport baggage claim area presents questions of responsibility for the harms and losses to the innocent airline passengers. Clearly those airport employees and airline crew members who may have been injured in the attack may have recourse under the Workers Compensation law of the states where they were employed. However, the negligence claims of passengers and their families may be more complicated than the workers “no fault” compensation claims. Continue reading

Airport employees may be transporting murder weapons that may harm passengers before they get out of the airport. The Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting demonstrates the dangers to travelers outside of the "security area" but still on the airport grounds

Virginia Victim in Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting

Airport employees may be transporting murder weapons that may harm passengers before they get out of the airport. The Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting demonstrates the dangers to travelers outside of the "security area" but still on the airport grounds
Airport employees may be transporting weapons that may harm passengers before they get out of the airport. The Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting demonstrates the dangers to travelers outside of the “security area” but still on the airport grounds

Five people were killed and six more were injured in the shooting Friday at the Fort Lauderdale Airport. There is a surveillance video that shows the moment the shooter took his weapon out and started firing at people’s heads in the baggage collection area of Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport (“FLL”). The gunman captured on the videotape is Esteban Santiago. He has been charged with performing an act of violence against a person at an airport serving international civil aviation and two other counts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. The charges could lead to the death penalty if he is convicted. His victims included a grandfather from Virginia Beach, Virginia and a grandmother Continue reading

An animal quarantine center at Dulles Airport could bring development to the "Western Lands" of Loudoun County, & equine industry jobs to Northern Virginia

Dulles Airport animal quarantine center in the “Western Lands” of Loudoun County, Virginia

An animal quarantine center at Dulles Airport could bring development to the "Western Lands" of Loudoun County, & equine industry jobs to Northern Virginia
An animal quarantine center at Dulles Airport could bring development to the “Western Lands” of Loudoun County, & equine industry jobs to Northern Virginia

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (“MWAA”), the organization that manages Dulles International and Reagan National airports, is considering an animal import center for unused acreage at Dulles Airport.

A Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokeswoman confirmed this week that there have been discussions regarding an imported animal quarantine center at Dulles. Prior to being released to their owners, animals that enter the United States must be tested, and isolated for several weeks, in order to ensure they are free of diseases and parasites that could harm American livestock and poultry.

The only two facilities on the East Coast where imported animals are cared for and tested during isolation are in New York and Miami, according to news reports. The Virginia equine industry would like to see a third location in Virginia, namely at Dulles. This is not a new development. MWAA officials have been exploring opportunities to develop nearly 430 acres of Dulles airport property known as the “Western Lands” for years. Monetizing the Western Lands is part of MWAA’s strategy to produce non-aeronautical revenue to help offset billions in debt and the lagging airport traffic at Dulles, which is located in Loudoun County.

Loudoun houses more horses than any county in Virginia with approximately 15,000, and the equine industry creates nearly $140 million in annual economic activity, according to a 2015 University of Virginia study using 2013 statistics. “This animal import facility would help the Virginia equestrian industry, potentially increase equestrian-related tourism in the region, and would benefit Dulles Airport by adding to traffic in horses and related good product.

A model for the facility at Dulles could be the new, $50 million animal import center in New York – “The Ark” at JFK. With construction almost complete, the ARK will be the world’s only privately-owned animal handling cargo terminal and USDA-approved, full-service 24-hour airport quarantine facility for the import and export of horses, pets, birds and livestock, according to its website. However, Dulles Airport care attorney Doug Landau points out that the Virginia International airport has the advantage of being centrally located on the East Coast, with long runways and significant undeveloped acre in close proximity to the Middleburg and Charlottesville horse farms, as well as the nearby University of Virginia Equine Center. Clearly the “Western Lands” should be utilized in conjunction with Airport business so that the synergy can benefit MWAA, Loudoun County and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Planes, tugs, cars, pedestrians, trucks, cushman carts & vans can crowd the runways on the Air Operations Area at Dulles Airport, Washington Reagan National  Airport & Baltimore Washington. Specials rules apply to accidents & injuries  on the AOA such that prompt investigation & preservation of evidence must take place as soon as possible.

Heavy Traffic on the Air Operations Area

Planes, tugs, cars, pedestrians, trucks, cushman carts & vans can crowd the runways on the Air Operations Area at Dulles Airport, Washington Reagan National Airport & Baltimore Washington. Specials rules apply to accidents & injuries on the AOA such that prompt investigation & preservation of evidence must take place as soon as possible.
Planes, tugs, cars, pedestrians, trucks, cushman carts & vans can crowd the runways on the Air Operations Area at Dulles Airport, Washington Reagan National Airport & Baltimore Washington. Specials rules apply to accidents & injuries on the AOA such that prompt investigation & preservation of evidence must take place as soon as possible.

With the increase in the number of flights, terminals, and international routes out of Dulles International Airport (“IAD”), there comes increased vehicle traffic, foot traffic, and aircraft traffic on the runways and around the gates of the Washington DC area airports. Airport workers must be extra careful when working on the “Air Operations Area,” the technical name for the runway areas and paved portions of the airport property that are beyond the “sterile,” TSA checkpoints. 

Because these workers cannot hear, because of large and engines, sometimes cannot see, because they work at night or in the early morning hours, cannot feel vibrations, because a large aircraft nearby, they are deprived of many of the senses that keep them safe at regular work place settings. That is why it is critical to secure competent, experienced legal counsel right away, as many lawyers do not know peculiar procedures that govern airport claims. For example, the regular county and city police are normally not allowed on the AOA to investigate accidents. Furthermore, the airport authority may call an accident record and “incident report.” ANd there are other aspects of airport injury claims that are specific to the Airport Operations Area. There are special time senssitive procedures that must be followed in order to get the evidence after an injury on airport grounds.

It is also critical to the success of the case to get witness information, secure evidence, and give the appropriate notice to the parties’ employer(s) and other involved authorities. Herndon lawyer Doug Landau seen many cases go down the drain because prompt action was not taken, or a lawyer did not get the evidence necessary to prove liability. Liability is the law’s way of saying, “whose fault was it ?” That is why the Herndon law firm ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. seeks out the evidence necessary to prove clients’ legal claims and the harms they have sustained due to the unsafe decisions of others at the airport.  If you or someone you know or care for has been injured as the result of an airport runway, pre-flight inspection, Airport Operations Area, terminal, airplane or other air travel related accident and there are questions about what laws apply, e-mail or call us at ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. (703-796-9555) at once.

Airport Operations Areas, encompass the runways, aprons, refueling and loading areas at an airport. They are special, busy workplaces, where injuries occur to innocent airport workers, airline employees and members of the traveling public.

Mayhem on the “Air Operations Area” – Landau to lecture on Accidents on the AOA at American Trial Lawyers National Convention

Airport Operations Areas, encompass the runways, aprons, refueling and loading areas at an airport. They are special, busy workplaces, where injuries occur to innocent airport workers, airline employees and members of the traveling public.
Airport Operations Areas (or “AOA”), encompass the runways, taxiing zones, aprons, refueling and loading areas at an airport. They are special, busy, loud, time-pressured environments, where injuries occur to innocent airport workers, government agents, airline employees and members of the traveling public.

When Doug Landau takes the podium on the national program to teach other top trial lawyers about the special rules and regulations at airport runways, he will start by defining what is meant by the “AOA.”  According to the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) the Air Operations Area (AOA) “consists of airport areas where aircraft can operate, either under their own power or while in tow. The AOA includes runways, taxiways, and apron areas.”

http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/150_5220_24.pdf

Another FAA definition of the “Air Operations Area” is “where security measures are enforced as specified in the airport security program. This area includes aircraft movement areas, aircraft parking areas, loading ramps, and safety areas and any adjacent areas (such as general aviation areas).”

http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/150_5300_18b_part2.pdf

To further elaborate, the term is defined in the Aviation Glossary explanation of the AOA as “Any area of an airport used or intended to be used for landing, takeoff, or surface maneuvering of aircraft. An air operations area includes such paved areas or unpaved areas that are used, or intended to be used, for the unobstructed movement of aircraft in addition to its associated runway, taxiways, or apron.”

http://aviationglossary.com/air-operations-area-aoa/

It is the area of the airport, after passengers pass through the entrance of the terminal, successfully navigate the TSA screening area and enter the “sterile area”, where their luggage from the underbellies of the jets is loaded and unloaded, planes are re-fueled, catering trucks mate to international aircraft, maintenance Cushman vehicles stop for repairs, mid-field people movers bring travelers to their gates, tugs tow planes to runways or baggage to “arrivals” conveyer belts, ground crews use hand signals with illuminated wands to cockpits and pre-flight inspections are carried out by airline crew members. “Understanding what area is within the special rules covering the AOA is critical to the investigation of a permanent injury case or collision between airport vehicles or jets,” notes Landau, of the Herndon law firm ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. His Dulles International Airport (“IAD”) office routinely helps injured airport workers, airline employees, air travelers and the innocent victims of unsafe conduct on the runways of East Coast airports.

If you or someone you know or care for has been injured as the result of an airport terminal, airplane or other air travel related accident and there are questions about what laws apply, e-mail or call us at ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. (703-796-9555) at once.

Just as when air travel was in its infancy, drone usage is so new that the laws and regulations have not yet caught up to actual usage.  The Commonwealth of Virginia is uniquely positioned to aide in the research into safety.

Virginia Poised to be a Leader in Drone Technology and Unmanned Craft Testing

historic airplane
When airplanes looked like this, air travel was in its infancy and few regulations existed. The laws and rules governing today’s airline industry were developed over time, as air travel became more pervasive and safety became of greater concern. Similarly, drone law must evolve as the popularity of these unmanned systems is on the rise.

Drones are unmanned remote-controlled aircraft.

The Commonwealth of Virginia is uniquely positioned to test, manufacture, and create policy to augment the safety of these unmanned systems.

In an interview with second term U.S. Senator Mark Warner for the April edition of Virginia Business,  this outstanding politician said, “Not as a politician, but as a business guy, I predict what will be the next most disruptive technology will be unmanned systems. There were 1 million drones sold at Christmas last year America. None of them were built in America. Yet, Virginia is one of the six sites that can do [Federal Aviation Administration] testing. We actually have more capacity to test center-driven or driverless cars in Virginia than any other state. With activities at Virginia Tech, some activities at Southside, and with some capacity we have in the [Express] lanes in Northern Virginia, we have an opportunity to be involved in the design and manufacture of unmanned systems. It’s going to be a huge area, with the military, with activities at Tech and other institutions, we really have a chance to be a leader.”

The military has already been arming drones to kill enemy combatants just as the Israeli Defense Force has been using them for years to take out known terrorists. The technology exists for many civilian applications.

“However, the law sometimes trails newer technologies, and rules to ensure safe use and responsible manufacture are critical to protecting citizens’ privacy and safety,” notes Herndon airport injury lawyer Doug Landau.

He adds, “The government cannot simply give drone owners carte blanche; there must be some regulatory oversight, or else these devices will start taking jets, planes, and helicopters out of the sky, causing property damage and permanent injury to innocent victims in the air and on the ground. If Virginia is going to be leader in testing, design, and manufacture of the unmanned flying devices, then the Commonwealth will need to have laws in place to protect the public from unnecessary harm.”

If you or someone you care for has been injured by a drone, aircraft, or other aviation related accident, and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).

Drone Strikes Jet in the UNfriendly Skies Around the International Airport

After giving a presentation to the American Association of Justice on "Drone Law," Airline injury lawyer Doug Landau was able to change into his casual wear & explore Boca Raton, Florida with American, British & Canadian trial lawyers
After giving his multi-media presentation to the American Association of Justice on “Drone Law,” Airline injury lawyer Doug Landau was able to change into his casual wear & explore Boca Raton, Florida with American, British & Canadian trial lawyers

Just weeks after Doug Landau warned of the dangers of “Rogue Drones” and gave a presentation on “Drone Law” at the convention of American Trial Lawyers, a suspected drone struck a British Airways airliner. The international jet was beginning its landing at Heathrow Airport when it was hit.

The aircraft’s pilot reported to police that the front of the jet was hit on their return from Geneva, Switzerland on Sunday. The craft landed safely at the Heathrow Terminal with 132 passengers and five crew members aboard. Engineers examined the Airbus A320 and cleared it for its next flight. Nevertheless, this is precisely the dangerous conduct that lawyer Landau warned about in his multi-media presentation to the American Association for Justice, which has many members from England and other Commonwealth countries.

Landau’s presentation, “Who is Liable for Making the Skies Unfriendly ?” examined the explosion in popularity in recreational and commercial drone usage.  Lawyer Landau’s presentation pointed out the fact that the government was playing “catch up” to respond with laws and workable safety protocols after a number of “near misses” at American airports.

According to the British press, no arrests have been made, but the investigation continues. “Thankfully the aircraft landed safely but the incident highlights the very real dangers of reckless, negligent and some times malicious use of drones,” Chief Superintendent Martin Hendy, head of Metropolitan Police Service’s Aviation Policing Command, said in a statement. “We continue to work with the Civil Aviation Authority and other partners to tackle this issue and ensure that enthusiasts who fly drones understand the dangers and the law.” Landau notes that if the technology exists to track cell phones and trucks, why can’t drones be tracked so as to avoid crashes with large commercial or military jets ? 

The Civil Aviation Authority (the equivalent of the US Federal Aviation Administration) stated, “It is totally unacceptable to fly drones close to airports and anyone flouting the rules can face severe penalties including imprisonment.” Rules for drone pilots in the UK include making sure that these unmanned flying devices are always within the operator’s line of sight, not flying above 400 feet (122 meters), and staying away from airports and aircraft. British Airways stated, “Safety and security are always out first priority and we will give the police every assistance with their investigation.”

Everyone at ABRAMS LANDAU hopes that whomever was operating this drone is apprehended and that this incredibly dangerous behavior is dealt with by the courts in an appropriate manner.

No DIRECT Flights Between the “Capital of the Free World” and the Lone Democracy in the Middle East ? Are you Kidding ?!!?

Having flown to the Middle East, as well as to other countries around the world, airport injury lawyer Doug Landau was shocked to learn recently that there are NO direct flights between Washington Dulles International Airport (“IAD”) outside our nation’s capital, and Tel Aviv, Israel.

Given the enormous number of high-tech computer companies, pharmaceutical, and other cutting-edge industries in the tiny country of Israel, it really makes no sense to oblige business travelers to make stops en route to the lone democracy in the Middle East.

Certainly these flights are not nearly as long as those to Australia and China, and the interaction between American industry, technology, medicine and science, as well as military cooperation, suggests that a direct flight is long overdue.

Furthermore, there is no question in Landau’s mind that El Al is the safest airlines in the world. The thorough security screening system was way ahead of its time. The flight crews are experienced, skilled, and professional.

While Israel and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area share an astonishing number of business and government connections, we still do not share a direct flight. Landau intends to return with his family to “the holy land” in 2017, and would like to take a direct flight from Dulles Airport.

Join Landau, and sign the petition for a direct flight between Washington DC and Tel Aviv now!

It simply asks how many round-trip tickets you might purchase if there was non-stop service between Dulles International and Ben Gurion Airport.

Drone Injury and Safety Policy Leads To Registration

dkwl @ Full VWCThe Association for Justice (“AAJ”) morning litigation program tends to feature “cutting edge” and merging areas of the law.

When Doug Landau submitted his paper on the law of drones, there was little case law or regulation, despite reports of near misses with helicopters and airplanes at major international airports.

Given the Virginia Motorsports Park drone crash and other injury producing incidents caused by these unmanned, remote-controlled flying machines, Landau noted, “It will be only a matter of time before serious, permanent or fatal injury results from the unsafe, unregulated use of such potentially dangerous technology.”

Landau regularly assists injured airport workers and travelers with their accident and workers compensation claims. He adds, “there are drones flying about or near the major airports, with no oversight or coordination. This makes no sense when folks with remote controlled toy cars and planes must get a license. You do not want a toy or a drone using the same frequencies or flight path as a commercial jet or private plane. Especially as drones become larger and less expensive, the day will come when an errant drone takes down an aircraft.”

As is true for most peer-reviewed publications, Continuing Legal Education programs, and speeches, Lawyer Landau’s drone aircraft presentation was completed in the Fall of 2015, well in advance of the July, 2016 Annual Convention in Los Angeles, California.

Landau was pleased to see that the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) has taken a measured to approach in instituting safety policies for this new technology. These pilotless aircraft have become become smaller, cheaper and more popular. While these flying machines have numerous beneficial applications — mapping remote, inaccessible areas; inspecting cellphone towers; providing mobile traffic monitors; assisting with animal population studies; law enforcement investigation; shooting movies or compiling multidimensional real estate portfolios — they are also a threat to other aircraft.

Policy makers have had to address the potential safety problems. Not unsurprisingly, the Federal Aviation Administration has taken the lead in regulating drones. Last month, it started requiring users to register their unmanned aircraft. It has also proposed rules that would limit drone flights to daylight hours and require commercial users of small drones to keep their aircraft within their sight.

The FAA’s press release quotes U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx as stating, “Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility. Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I’m excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation.” Registration is still free until January 20th, and drone owners may register through a web-based system at www.faa.gov/uas/registration.

The FAA has also proposed rules to limit flights to daylight hours, keeping the aircraft within sight of the operators, and other safety protocols. Landau applauds the Administration’s steps to make the sky safer, and he hopes the rules for commercial and recreational drone use are enforced for the protection of the public and airline personnel.

In the next post, the issue of privacy is also being evaluated by the Federal Government in light of differing rules by the states and Constitutional questions.