Commercial Pilot, Accident Investigator, Aviation Lawyer

       Orange County Divorce Mediation Lawyer Attorney Don Werno has almost three decades of aviation experience.  During that time, Don has represented the families of aircraft crashes and his vast aviation experience has proven invaluable, not only in understanding the highly complex technical information and crash dynamics involved, but to also understand the role that the aircraft pilot, air traffic control, aircraft mechanics and the aircraft manufacturers may have played in the tragedy. Because Don has extensive experience as a pilot, a certified flight instructor, an aircraft accident investigator and as an attorney, he is in a unique position to not only help his clients determine the truth behind an aviation disaster, but also to help obtain the full measure of financial compensation from the responsible parties.  Click here to view Don's resume.  In addition to sucessfully representing the victims of aviation disasters, Don also represents pilots who have been accused by the FAA of committing a violation of the Federal Aviation Regulations.

       During his career, Don has been involved in the investigation and litigation of aircraft disasters occurring throughout the world, including: Korean Airlines Flight 007, a Boeing 747 that was shot down near Russian airspace; American Airlines Flight 965, a Boeing 757 that crashed in mountainous terrain near Buga, Columbia; Korean Airlines Flight 801, a Boeing 747 that crashed short of the Guam Airport; Crash of Air Bagan Fokker-100 aircraft in Yangon, Myanmar; Crash of a Bell 206 Fire Fighting Helicopter near Highland, California; Crash of a Paris Jet near John Wayne Airport, Santa Ana, California; Crash of a Beech Bonanza near the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area, California; Crash of a Cessna 172 near Avalon, California; The mid-air collision of two Cessna aircraft training over the Long Beach, California harbor and the crash of an Experimental home-built Europa Classic aircraft near Page, Arizona.  Don was also the past president of the Orange County Bar Association’s Aviation Law Section.  As such, Don knows aviation, aviation accidents and aviation law, including provisions contained in the Warsaw Convention and he can help you with your aviation related problems, too.

        In developing his aviation experience, Mr. Werno worked as a professional pilot, holding the Federal Aviation Administration Certificates of Gold Seal Single and Multi-Engine aircraft Certified Flight Instructor and Commercial Pilot with Instrument Privileges.  For over five years, Mr. Werno was the Chief Flight Instructor in a six-axis full motion KC-130F simulator located at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station for the Civil Air Patrol, a U.S. Air Force Auxiliary search and rescue organization. Mr. Werno has helped train and improve the skills of hundreds of pilots.  As a result, Don was honored as the Civil Air Patrol Group 7 Flight Instructor of the Year.  Don has amassed over 2,000 hours of flight time in fixed wing aircraft, helicopters, and full motion simulators and has received training in Boeing 747-400, McDonald Douglas MD-11 and Lockheed KC-130F full motion simulators.  Don has also flown search and rescue missions as an Aircraft Commander.  

        In 2010, Don was asked to help an airline pilot who had posted a YouTube video exposing serious lapses in airport security.  When the Federal Air Marshalls attempted to intimidate the pilot and suspend him from the Federal Flight Deck Program, Don stepped in and protected the pilot, whom Don dubbed the "Patriot Pilot".  The Patriot Pilot's story became world-wide news, as did the heavy handed tactics of the TSA and the Federal Air Marshals.Unfortunately, the TSA has still not addressed the extremely serious flaws in airport security that were exposed by the Patriot Pilot.

NTSB Logo       Utilizing his aviation, computer science and psychology training, Mr. Werno worked with the National Transportation Safety Board in the Southwest Regional Office.  While with the NTSB, Mr. Werno conducted numerous aircraft accident investigations involving fixed wing aircraft, experimental aircraft & helicopters, including the analysis of material failure, aircraft digital flight data recorder information and National Track Analysis Program / DARTS aircraft radar flight path data.  As part of his training and accomplishments at the NTSB, Mr. Werno led a team consisting of personnel from the NTSB, the FAA and the private sector in developing a multi-media training program targeting Certified Flight Instructors.  The program, called “An Anatomy of an Aircraft Accident: Flight Instructor Responsibilities and Liabilities” was presented by Mr. Werno and others throughout the Southern California area.  Mr. Werno has also developed and presented several other aviation related seminars and was an FAA Accident Safety Prevention Counselor as well.

         In addition to his hands on, real world aviation experience, attorney Don Werno has also completed specialized aviation coursework at the University of Southern California (USC) Institute of Systems and Safety Management.  Among the courses Mr. Werno completed at USC, were: Aircraft Accident Investigation, Human Factors in Aviation Safety, Role of the Technical Witness in Aviation Litigation and Legal Aspects of Aviation Safety.  Mr. Werno also received training from the NTSB in aircraft accident investigation techniques and procedures.    

           Because of our extensive aviation experience, we are also frequently asked by our clients to assist in the purchase of a new aviation asset, whether for personal or business use.  The purchase of a new or used aircraft can be a daunting experience, especially given that frequently the aircraft is in another state or country and an IRS 1031 exchange may be involved.  There are numerous little details that need to be considered, including whether the aircraft is eligible or required to be registered under the Cape Town Treaty. As is often said, the devil is in the details and we can help keep you from getting burned.  

           Don also defends pilots and aviation personnel who are acused by the FAA of committing a regulatory violation.  Unfortunately, the FAA has become neither kinder nor gentler as once suggested by FAA Administrator Jane Garvey.  In fact, the FAA seems to be steadily increasing in complexity and less forgiving of perceived pilot transgressions, even in light of the recently passed “Pilot’s Bill of Rights”.

          As such, you may find yourself in possession of a “Letter of Proposed Certificate Action” or subject to an investigation and thus in need of help, fast, as the FAA’s primary remedy to a problem seems to be the suspension of your aviation privileges.  We routinely handle the defense of pilots who are accused of violating one or more Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) before an Administrative Law Judge of the NTSB.  If you have this type of problem, or you even think you might, immediately file a NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System report and remember to keep the identification strip as that is the only proof that you actually used the ASRS system.  

           If you would like to discuss how we can help you with an aviation matter, feel free to give us a call at (714) 542-4466.  Remember, consultations are always free.

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