Mark A. Dombroff, Partner, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Practice, Dentons
Mark concentrates his practice on the aviation and transportation industry, including litigation, regulatory, administrative and enforcement matters, security, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigations and employee related issues. He is a leader of the firm's Unmanned Aircraft Systems practice.
Mark started his legal career as a Trial Attorney with the Office of the General Counsel of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): He then moved to the Aviation Unit of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). Over his 15 year career with the DOJ, he represented the FAA, all of the military services, the National Weather Service, the Coast Guard, NASA and all other government related aviation activities. For his last five years with DOJ, he was the Director of the Civil Division responsible for three offices, 100 lawyers and all aviation and admiralty matters both worldwide and involving the United States.
Mark entered private practice in 1985, where he focuses his practice on the aviation and transportation industry. He has counseled and guided numerous airlines and aviation and other companies through accident/incident investigations, FAA investigations and civil litigation. Among others, this has included the Arrow Air crash in Gander, Newfoundland, the US Airways crashes in New York (Flight 405), Charlotte (Flights 1016 and 5481), Pittsburgh (Flight 427), US Airways Flight 1549: the “Miracle on the Hudson,” Alaska Airlines crash near Los Angeles (Flight 261), the Colgan Air crash near Hyannis, MA, the crash which took the life of PGA Champion Payne Stewart, the Circuit City accident near Pueblo, CO, the crash of The Galloping Ghost at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, NV, the 2013 crash of a National Airlines Boeing 747 at Bagram, Afghanistan, and an accident involving a spaceship operated by Scaled Composites on October, 31, 2014, in Mojave, CA.
Mark also handles numerous safety, enforcement and regulatory matters before the FAA/NTSB and other administrative agencies, whether arising from accidents or as independent matters. This includes matters involving not only the FAA and NTSB, but many issues involving State, TSA, Homeland Security, Justice and Treasury.
Mark represented Sikorsky Aircraft in the landmark Supreme Court case establishing the government contractor defense (Boyle v. United Technologies), as well as in the “friendly fire” litigation resulting in the dismissal of Sikorsky following the Government’s invoking of the state secrets doctrine to avoid responding to third party subpoenas. (Mounsey et. al. v. Allied-Signal et. al.)
Mark provides counseling and representation to not only the airlines listed but, in addition, to Southwest Airlines, Mesa Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, Trans State Airlines, Virgin America, Spirit Airlines, Empire Airlines and a wide range of other airlines and aviation service providers, including airports, fuelers, ground handlers, fixed base operators, maintenance and overhaul companies, catering companies, security companies, airframe manufacturers and a number of other aerospace manufacturers.
During the course of his career, Mark has tried dozens of jury and non-jury cases, ranging in length from one day to several months. In addition, he has argued before state and federal appellate courts at all levels.
Mark founded the Airline Symposium in January 2006, which had over 130 attendees from all segments of the aviation industry. It addressed what really happens after an accident and was a recognition of the fact that with the safety history of the industry, there was virtually no experience base in the companies with what happens after an accident.
The program dealt with the NTSB investigation, FAA investigation, criminal investigation, civil litigation, employee and union issues, financial and shareholder matters, emergency preparedness issues and family/survivor matters.
In February 2015, the ninth annual Airline Symposium was held at The Ritz Carlton Hotel, McLean, VA, with over 300 attendees observing and participating in an accident response exercise in a foreign country. In addition, attendees had a unique opportunity to hear from and question former members of the NTSB, as well as current and former senior staff members and investigators from the FAA and NTSB on a variety of policy, regulatory and enforcement issues.
In July 2013, Mark founded and moderated the first MRO/Manufacturers Symposium in Reston, VA. This Symposium focused on how maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities, as well as aviation manufacturers, should prepare for and deal with aviation accidents/incidents and regulatory/enforcement issues.
In June 2015, Mark moderated the second annual UAS Symposium, an event that he founded in 2014, that included 150 registrants. The symposium addressed all aspects of UAS operations and was filled with panels consisting of FAA, insurance and industry representatives.