China Aviation Law

Strange Phenomena and Chinese Passenger Protests

A brief post to highlight a strange phenomena.

"It has become a strange phenomenon in China that passengers tend to protest in irrational ways over flight delays or cancellation so the airlines can compensate them more in the end," said Zhang Qihuai, a lawyer from the Lanpeng Law Firm who handles civil aviation cases.

For the 3rd time in 4 months, Chinese passengers stormed the tarmac of an airport to protest long delays. 

More than 20 angry passengers took their protest onto an airport taxiway to demand compensation for their flight being canceled for bad weather in Kunming in southwest China's Yunnan Province yesterday. The protest caused a series of flight delays between Shanghai and Kunming.


I've racked my brain trying to think of what would happen if a group of disgruntled passengers stormed the tarmac in LaGuardia. It would not turn out good.

In my travels in China, I have found that most of the traveling Chinese don't care about the rules that promulgated by the airlines. They'll cut in line, use electronics throughout the flight, and before we even get to the gate there half the passengers will be rushing to the front of the plane and pulling out luggage.

Some of these instances I'll attribute to the fact that those who can afford to travel by air in China are very wealthy. Others, like the example of the Chinese military official who assaulted on a flight attendant, are very connected.

Either way, the Chinese have chosen a very strange way to protest, but if it gets the airlines to fork over more money more power to them.

"It has become a strange phenomenon in China that passengers tend to protest in irrational ways over flight delays or cancellation so the airlines can compensate them more in the end," said Zhang Qihuai, a lawyer from the Lanpeng Law Firm who handles civil aviation cases.


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Cathay Pacific gets first Boeing 747-8 Freighter

I took a tour of the Boeing factory a couple of weeks ago and was amazed at the number of Chinese aircraft I saw on the ramp.


I also saw this beauty waiting for delivery to Hong Kong. Since I couldn't bring a camera, this shot is from the delivery flight.

“We are pleased to take delivery of this excellent new freighter, which will be a perfect addition to the Cathay Pacific cargo fleet,” John Slosar, CEO of the Hong Kong-based airline, said in a news release. “The B747-8F will help us further strengthen Hong Kong’s position as the world’s leading international air cargo hub. We look forward to the efficiency and environmental benefits that we expect to realize with this great new airplane.”


When I lived in Shenzhen, I could see the Hong Kong airport from across the bay. I was amazed at the traffic that came into that airport. It was constant and it was almost always heavies like the 747. If you ever get over there, I suggest you spend some time and just hang out that airport. :-)

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Aviation Case Law Update for 2011


*** So, this is what has been taking me away from the blog for the last month, I have been putting together this presentation for a conference. I made the presentation last week without a hitch. I hope you enjoy the materials. I am still working on how to upload the slides.***

Aviation Case Law Update

Presented at the 38th Annual Pacific Northwest Aviation Law and Insurance Seminar1

September 16, 2011

 Casey DuBose is a third-year student at Seattle University School of Law, where he is the Business Editor for the Seattle Journal of Environmental Law. He is currently serving as a Law Clerk extern to the Honorable John C. Coughenour at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. He is a commercial pilot and flight instructor in single-engine aircraft. Upon graduation, he hopes to pursue a career that melds his three great interests - Chinese, Aviation, and Law. Prior to attending law school, Casey earned a B.A. in Philosophy from Brigham Young University with a minor in Mandarin Chinese. He also worked as a flight instructor and charter pilot at the Diamond Flight Center in Spanish Fork, Utah.

More information about Casey may be found at


Table of Cases

Air Carrier Access Act 
Mesaba Aviation, Inc Violations of 14 CFR Part 382, 2011 WL 1344611 
Summers v. Delta Airlines, Inc., 10-CV-05730-LHK, 2011 WL 1299360 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 4, 2011) 
Airline Deregulation Act 
In re Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd., 642 F.3d 685 (9th Cir. 2011) 
DiFiore v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 646 F.3d 81 (1st Cir. 2011) 
Trishan Air, Inc. v. Fed. Ins. Co., 635 F.3d 422 (9th Cir. 2011) 
Federal Preemption 
US Airways, Inc. v. O'Donnell, 627 F.3d 1318 (10th Cir. 2010) 
Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corp., 731 F. Supp. 2d 429 (M.D. Pa. 2010) 
Montreal Convention
Chubb Ins. Co. of Europe S.A. v. Menlo Worldwide Forwarding, Inc., 634 F.3d 1023 (9th Cir. 2011) cert. denied 
Eli Lilly & Co. v. Air Exp. Int'l USA, Inc., 615 F.3d 1305 (11th Cir. 2010) 
Phifer v. Icelandair, 09-56858, 2011 WL 3076393 (9th Cir. July 26, 2011) 
Forum Non Conveniens 
Delta Air Lines, Inc. v. Chimet, S.p.A., 619 F.3d 288 (3d Cir. 2010) 
Death on the High Seas Act 
Helman v. Alcoa Global Fasteners, Inc., 637 F.3d 986 (9th Cir. 2011) 
Pilot Certification and Regulation 
Manin v. Nat'l Transp. Safety Bd., 627 F.3d 1239 (D.C. Cir. 2011) 
Dickson v. Nat'l Transp. Safety Bd., 639 F.3d 539 (D.C. Cir. 2011) 
Avia Dynamics, Inc. v. F.A.A., 641 F.3d 515 (D.C. Cir. 2011) 
FAA Regulation of Airports 
City of Santa Monica v. F.A.A., 631 F.3d 550, 551 (D.C. Cir. 2011) 
Barnes v. U.S. Dep't of Transp., 10-70718, 2011 WL 3715694 (9th Cir. Aug. 25, 2011) 
Casciani v. Nesbitt, 392 F. App'x. 887 (2d Cir. 2010) cert. denied 
Government Contractor Defense 
Rodriguez v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 627 F.3d 1259 (9th Cir. 2010) 
Getz v. The Boeing Co., 10-15284, 2011 WL 3275957 (9th Cir. Aug. 2, 2011) 
Federal Tort Claims Act 
LeGrande v. United States, 774 F. Supp. 2d 910 (N.D. Ill. 2011) 
Turner v. United States, 736 F. Supp. 2d 980 (M.D.N.C. 2010) 
General Aviation Revitalization Act 
Burton v. Twin Commander Aircraft LLC, 171 Wash. 2d 204, 254 P.3d 778 (2011) 
Crouch v. Honeywell Int'l, Inc., 3:07-CV-638-S, 2010 WL 4449222 (W.D. Ky. Nov. 1, 2010) 
Duty to Warn 
Otoski v. Avidyne Corporation, 2010 WL Otoski v. Avidyne Corp., (D. Or. Oct. 6, 2010)
Glorvigen v. Cirrus Design Corp., 796 N.W.2d 541 (Minn. Ct. App. 2011) 
Isakson v. WSI Corp., 771 F. Supp. 2d 1257 (W.D. Wash. 2011) 
Notable Airline Crashes 
Turkish Airlines Crash 
Koral v. Boeing Co., 628 F.3d 945 (7th Cir. 2011) 
Air France Crash 
In re Air Crash Over Mid-Atl. on June 1, 2009, 760 F. Supp. 2d 832 (N.D. Cal. 2010) 
Spanair Crash 
In re Air Crash at Madrid, Spain, on August 20, 2008, 2:10-ML-02135 GAF, 2011 WL 1058452 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 22, 2011). 
Flight Options, LLC v. State, Dept. of Revenue, 84207-8, 2011 WL 3717001 (Wash. Aug. 25, 2011) 26
Interesting Cases 
Azpitarte v. King County, C10-1186Z, 2011 WL 2518916 (W.D. Wash. June 23, 2011) 
Nat'l Air Traffic Controllers Ass'n v. Sec'y of Dept. of Transp., 10-3171, 2011 WL 3569957 (6th Cir. Aug. 16, 2011) 
United States v. Armstrong, 397 F. App'x. 466 (10th Cir. 2010) 


Check out the details of each case after the break!








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Chinese Aviation Execs Violate US Arms Embargo

For want of a pROM chip, aerospace execs went to jail.

Last September, two Chinese nationals were arrested in Hungary and transferred to US custody in April. They were charged with conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act and to smuggle goods from the U.S., and the attempted export of munitions in violation of the act.

Hong Wei Xian, 32, and Li Li, 33, both from the PRC, were charged in a two-count indictment accusing them of conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act and to smuggle goods from the United States and the attempted export of U.S. Munitions List items in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.

According to the indictment, Xian is the president of Beijing Starcreates Space Science and Technology Development Company Limited, and Li is the company’s vice president. Among other things, Beijing Starcreates engages in the business of importing and selling programmable read-only memory microchips to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, which is controlled by the PRC government and plays a substantial role in the research, design, development and production of strategic and tactical missile systems and launch vehicles for the PRC.


Since 1990, the U.S. government has maintained an arms embargo against the PRC that prohibits the export, re-export, or re-transfer of any defense article to the PRC. Prohibited defense articles are placed on the U.S. Munitions List, which includes spacecraft systems and associated equipment. A programmable read-only memory microchip (PROM) serves to store the initial start-up program for a computer system and is built to withstand the conditions present in outer space.

According to the indictment, neither Xian nor Li applied for nor received a license from the United States to export defense articles of any description; however, from April 2009 to Sept. 1, 2010, the two are charged with contacting a company in the Eastern District of Virginia and seeking to export thousands of radiation-hardened PROMs from that company.

The indictment states that Xian and Li knew a license was required, but did not seek to obtain one because it was difficult, time-consuming, and would require them to identify the end user and describe the end use. They are accused of conspiring to break up orders into multiple shipments and designate countries outside of the PRC for delivery to avoid drawing attention to the orders.

On Sept. 1, 2010, the defendants were arrested in Hungary pursuant to a U.S. provisional arrest warrant and were transferred into the custody of U.S. Marshals on April 1, 2011, after they waived extradition. They arrived in the Eastern District of Virginia late April 1, 2011.


Analysis and Source Documents after the Break.


China’s UAV Helicopter – 中国的无人直升机

China tested an unmanned helicopter this last week. It is claimed to be the largest unmanned helicopter in production. It debuted at the Hainan airshow earlier this year, but this is the first test flight.

On Saturday, the largest unmanned helicopter built in China to date made its first flight in Weifang City of east China’s Shandong Province.  With a max take-off weight of 757kg, it flew from the flight-test center of Weifang Tianxiang Aerospace Industry Co.Ltd, hovering for ten minutes, before performing a few manoeuvres before concluding with a stable landing.


As a private pilot in the US, I have always had a lingering fear of unmanned aircraft. I don't know how effective the UAVs are at seeing other aircraft the sky. Often I am flying in areas where there is neither radar nor ATC coverage. The only thing that is keeping me separated from other aircraft are my two eyeballs. I hope that unmanned operators are staying as vigilant as I am at scanning for traffic, but I think they inherently will be less vigilant.

This thing looks small, but it has the wingspan of a 737. My Cessna 140's wingspan wouldn't even cover half of its length.

First, there is a limited visibility on a UAV. Second, the operator's life is not on the line if he crashes, the operator cannot feel the aircraft and does not gain the heightened awareness that comes from being in the aircraft in lower visibility conditions. Finally, when the link is cut the aircraft there is no way to avoid a collision. UAVs are designed with a failsafe that puts them in a holding patter if their link is cut, however, they still do not have the technology to avoid an aircraft in a failsafe condition.

Fortunately, UAV trials in the United States have been very limited and restricted to areas with little to no aircraft activity. The FAA has been very conservative in allowing trials of UAVs. Nevertheless, there have been instances of state and local police agencies using UAVs without FAA approval.
Near Miss over Kabul

Look at this amazing near miss between a military UAV and a commercial airliner in Afghanistan.

Without the general aviation traffic in China that we see in the united states, there is not nearly as large a risk of collision. But, I hope that the CAAC will limit these trials until the technology has been better tested and tried.