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Overview of Airport Duties and Standards of Care in Airfield Accident Cases (2017)

Chapter: LEGAL RESEARCH DIGEST 33: OVERVIEW OF AIRPORT DUTIES AND STANDARDS OF CARE IN AIRFIELD ACCIDENT CASES

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Suggested Citation:"LEGAL RESEARCH DIGEST 33: OVERVIEW OF AIRPORT DUTIES AND STANDARDS OF CARE IN AIRFIELD ACCIDENT CASES." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Overview of Airport Duties and Standards of Care in Airfield Accident Cases. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24940.
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Legal Research Digest 33 AIRPORT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM Sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration October 2017 OVERVIEW OF AIRPORT DUTIES AND STANDARDS OF CARE IN AIRFIELD ACCIDENT CASES This digest was prepared under ACRP Project 11-01, “Legal Aspects of Airport Programs,” for which the Transportation Research Board (TRB) is the agency coordinating the research. Under Topic 08-02, this digest was prepared by Jodi Howick, Howick Law PLLC, Salt Lake City, Utah. Responsible Senior Program Officer: Marci A. Greenberger Background There are over 4,000 airports in the country and most of these airports are owned by governments. A 2003 survey conducted by Airports Council International–North America concluded that city ownership accounts for 38 percent, followed by regional airports at 25 percent, single county at 17 percent, and multi-jurisdictional at 9 percent. Primary legal services to these airports are, in most cases, provided by municipal, county, and state attorneys. Research reports and summaries produced by the Air- port Continuing Legal Studies Project and published as ACRP Legal Research Digests are developed to assist these attorneys seeking to deal with the myriad of legal problems encountered during airport development and op- erations. Such substantive areas as eminent domain, envi- ronmental concerns, leasing, contracting, security, insur- ance, civil rights, and tort liability present cutting-edge legal issues where research is useful and indeed needed. Airport legal research, when conducted through the TRB’s legal studies process, either collects primary data that usu- ally are not available elsewhere or performs analysis of existing literature. Foreword Aircraft accidents occur for many reasons, and several theories have been advanced for airport liability. Some cases have alleged, for example, that airports were liable IRUQRWPDLQWDLQLQJD´VDIHÁLJKWHQYLURQPHQWµFRQVLVWHQW with state laws that govern premises operators. Other cases have alleged liability for violating federal aviation requirements, or have considered the role of federal advisory materials. Failure to issue appropriate NOTAMs (Notices to Airmen), wildlife hazard and management plans, FOD (foreign object debris), and snow and ice control are examples of the types of situations that can generate claims of liability. Airport owners and operators may be unaware of the existence of these cases and the legal theories that can determine liability when accidents RFFXULQWKHDLUÀHOG This digest provides an overview of the legal duties and standards of care that may create liability when oper- DWLQJDSXEOLFDLUÀHOG,WEHJLQVZLWKDEDVLFGLVFXVVLRQRI negligence principles. It then reviews duties and standards RIFDUHLQDQDLUÀHOGDFFLGHQWFRQWH[WLQFOXGLQJWKHH[WHQW to which federal preemption may apply. Finally, the digest FRQFOXGHVZLWKDVHFWLRQGLVFXVVLQJPDQ\W\SHVRIDLUÀHOG conditions that have allegedly contributed to an accident or to liability concerns in past cases. This digest will be helpful to airport operators and their legal counsel as they research these responsibilities at their individual airports.

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TRB's Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Legal Research Digest 33: Overview of Airport Duties and Standards of Care in Airfield Accident Cases provides an overview of the legal duties and standards of care that may create liability when operating a public airfield. It discusses negligence principles and reviews duties and standards of care in an airfield accident context, including the extent to which federal preemption may apply. The digest concludes with a section discussing many types of airfield conditions that have allegedly contributed to an accident or to liability concerns in past cases.

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