Turbulence Ahead

October 2003

Michelle GaretsonThe fall season usually finds businesses shaping up their financial plans for the year ahead - trying to predict how the industry will shape up or shake out and adjust their individual plans accordingly to offer the best opportunities for success. Those in aviation and aviation ground support may have a tougher time with this process for the coming year if the courts have their way.

At the time of this writing, a federal judge had ruled to allow lawsuits brought forth by several persons who were injured in as well as representatives of those who died in the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 to proceed against American Airlines, United Airlines, the Boeing Company, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The plaintiffs argue that Boeing should have designed the cockpit door to prevent hijackers from entry and that the airlines as well as the Port Authority were legally responsible to protect people on the ground when the aircraft crashed into the two towers, causing them to collapse.

Apparently, these lawsuits are specific to the New York events and do not include the aircraft, properties, and casualties that resulted from the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA crashes.

This allowance by the federal judge begs the question - How far does the liability extend when a product is used or a service is rendered? Until that tragic September day, few people had ever dreamed such a crime could take place, so it stands to reason that no one, not even the terrorists responsible, could have predicted the final outcome. How then is it possible to expect airlines, an aircraft manufacturer, and a government authority to protect people from something that had never happened before?

Obviously, all of the defendants will appeal this ruling; American and United have already stated as such, but, if they lose the appeal, they will find themselves in a long and costly legal process. Neither airline can afford that, and this could serve as a final blow to the number one and two carriers, which would have a huge ripple effect down through the supply stream.

A few days later, President Bush asked Congress to beef up the powers of law enforcement officers in an effort to improve Homeland Security. The timing of this request, the second anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, has prompted many to question if our nation is safer and better prepared at this time. While security plans and products have been implemented at air and sea ports worldwide, many feel there is still much more work to be done with safety and security.

This month, we feature an article from Washington, DC-based contract law firm, Malyszek & Malyszek on obtaining government contracts - more specifically, contracts with the 22 divisions of the Department of Homeland Security. Brother and sister team, Rob and Cyndi Malyszek, gave a clear and informative presentation on this topic at this year's GSE Expo in Las Vegas that was well received by attendees. We wanted to be sure that even those who couldn't attend had the opportunity to go after new business despite the seemingly endless turbulence shaking our industry.

Thanks for reading.

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