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Aerospace Industry Disputes

by Stephen E. Smith and Lester W. Schiefelbein Jr.


According to Merriam Webster, the term “aerospace” first appeared in 1958, the year after the first satellite was launched into space and commercial jet transportation became mainstream with the introduction of Boeing 707 flights by Pan American World Airways. Today the aerospace industry may be defined as “the industry that deals with travel in and above the Earth’s atmosphere and with the production of vehicles used in such travel.”  The worldwide aerospace industry, including both civilian and military components now accounts for nearly US $700 billion in annual sales, with slightly over 50 percent coming from the government/military side, which frequently include special contractual and security features. Virtually all the significant advantages of arbitration, e.g. confidentiality, cost effectiveness, quicker resolution, flexibility, ability to choose arbitrators with technical and subject matter expertise, limited discovery and document production, finality and cross border enforceability apply to disputes among aerospace industry participants and between those participants and their customers.  However, as discussed below, many of those advantages have particular applicability to disputes involving aerospace companies. The following discussion reviews discuss some of those situations.

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