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Air One Helicopters v. Federal Aviation Administration
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
86 F.3d 880 (1996)
Air One Helicopters, Inc. (Air One) (plaintiff) bought a helicopter from a Spanish company. The helicopter was registered in Spain, with a recorded lien from a Norwegian corporation called Sameiet Heli Invest I (Sameiet). Air One tried to register the helicopter in the United States with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (defendant). Under a treaty known as the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention), the United States was not allowed to register an aircraft that was currently registered in another country. Accordingly, the FAA refused to register Air One’s helicopter while it was still registered in Spain. However, the Spanish government would not deregister the helicopter without an official corporate document from Sameiet showing that the lien had been satisfied. The lien had been fully paid off. However, it was discovered that Sameiet was never a corporation and that it no longer existed. Sameiet’s former president signed an affidavit declaring this information. Even though this evidence established that the lien was satisfied and that it would be impossible for Air One to get an official corporate document from the noncorporate Sameiet, the Spanish government continued to insist on an official corporate document. The United States embassy in Spain tried to help Air One but was unsuccessful. Air One consulted with Spanish attorneys about bringing a lawsuit in Spain to get the helicopter deregistered. The attorneys advised that the lawsuit might not be successful and could take as long as 10 years. Air One submitted documentation to the FAA showing these efforts. However, the FAA still refused to register the helicopter, stating that the FAA did not have the authority to register the helicopter unless and until Spain deregistered it. The FAA also indicated that it was not likely to change its decision on this point. Air One sued to force the FAA to register the helicopter.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Thompson, J.)
Dissent (O’Scannlain, J.)
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