Aircraft lessors, financiers and asset managers

Examples of our experience in aircraft leasing and financing disputes

Acting for aircraft lessors, financiers and asset managers

Redelivery and maintenance disputes

We act frequently for lessors in highly complex and technical engine and aircraft redelivery disputes in various jurisdictions.  As a consequence, we have in-depth experience and expertise in advising on technical airframe and engine maintenance issues, compliance with lease return condition requirements, referencing AMMs, SRMs, and MPDs, disputes with OEMs, MROs, and damages claims arising from late redelivery of aircraft.  We also work with a wide range of technical experts including powerplant engineers, CAMOs, avionics experts, appraisers and valuers both pre-dispute and in court proceedings or international arbitrations.

Examples of redelivery and maintenance issues we have advised on include:

  • Whether airframe and engine maintenance events qualify for release from accrued maintenance reserves and/or lessor contributions, including disputes concerning workscopes and work undertaken during C-Checks and engine shop visits.
  • Compensation to be paid by lessees as end-of-lease maintenance adjustment (true-up) payments for usage of aircraft and engines (including airframe C-Checks, engine performance restoration, engine LLPs, landing gears, and APU).
  • Compliance with ADs and SBs, and lease requirements for removal and replacement of parts and components.
  • Compliance with technical lease redelivery conditions, including disputes arising out of delivery and redelivery acceptance certificates.
  • Engine OEM aftercare maintenance programmes and service packages.
  • Validity of certificates of release to service issued by MROs following maintenance, faulty workmanship by MROs, asserted liens, and liability for damage to the airframe while undergoing C-Checks.

Lessee defaults, terminations and aircraft repossessions

We are experienced in supporting lessors in managing and advising on lessees's breaches of the terms of leases, protecting the value of aircraft assets and investments in asset-backed securitization (ABS) structures and maximising returns on investment.  We often project manage cases across different jurisdictions, leading teams of international lawyers, asset managers, experts, valuers/appraisers and re-marketing brokers to ensure a fully co-ordinated onward lease or sale of the recovered aircraft.

Examples of lessee defaults and aircraft repossession issues we (with our network of international offices and associated firms) have advised on include:

  • Unpaid rent and maintenance reserves, and "true-up" claims, both during the lease term and following redelivery, including rent escalation provisions and claims against guarantors.
  • Lessee airlines' cessation of business and commencement of airline restructuring and/or insolvency procedures, including impact of associated stays of legal proceedings and moratoriaums imposed under relevant insolvency.
  • Events of default and other contractual claims, and preparation and service of notices of default, events of default, termination of the leasing and grounding the aircraft.
  • Arrestment and delivery up of leased aircraft and engines (including aircraft records) following lessee defaults, including Cape Town Convention remedies in default and insolvency scenarios, and advising on quiet enjoyment provisions, IDERAs, DPOAs and the export and deregistration of aircraft.
  • Where the lessor has taken physical redelivery of leased aircraft to carry out remedial or refurbishment works prior to forward leasing, and seeks recovery of its costs from the lessee (including how to carry out such works without waiving any rights to claim against the lessee).
  • Global enforcement of English judgments, including summary judgment, and arbitral awards in various jurisdictions. 
  • Represented Alterna Aircraft V B Limited in a claim for unpaid aircraft rent against the third-largest Indian airline, SpiceJet, worth over £11m. In March 2023, we successfully obtained summary judgement against SpiceJet and defeated their request for a stay of execution.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, our Hong Kong aviation team was awarded the "China Business Law Journal - Deals of the Year 2021" for its work in assisting ICBC Leasing in aircraft repossessions involving over 50 aircraft across 15 different jurisdictions, including Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, the PRC, Hong Kong, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cyprus.

Pre-delivery disputes

Examples of pre-delivery issues we have advised on include:

  • Pre-delivery payment (PDP) financing and sale & lease-back arrangements, including the impact of airlines' purported cancellation of aircraft orders following the prolonged grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft type and reliability issues concerning certain engine types.
  • Exercise of a lessor's step-in rights following the occurrence of an event entitling the OEM manufacturer to terminate or cancel part of an aircraft purchase agreement.
  • Conversion of passenger aircraft to freighter and subsequent leasing of aircraft, including claims for damages for slot-out delays.


"An exceptional team which combines extensive industry knowledge, with considerable intellect, an unmatched eye for detail, and an ability to achieve successful outcomes for their clients."
The Legal 500 UK, Aviation

"Stephenson Harwood's aviation practice is committed, knowledgeable and very pragmatic.  They are our go-to lawyers for almost all our aviation law issues due to their experience and expertise in this area."
The Legal 500 UK, Aviation



Chloe Challinor
Chloe Challinor Of counsel Aviation Litigation & Regulation T: +44 20 7809 2142 M: +44 7702 141 049
Email Chloe Challinor | Vcard Office London
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Johnny Champion
Johnny Champion Managing associate Aviation Litigation & Regulation T: +44 20 7809 2358
Email Johnny Champion | Vcard Office London
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Paul Phillips
Paul Phillips Partner Aviation Litigation & Regulation T: +44 20 7809 2302 M: +44 7734 135 401
Email Paul Phillips | Vcard Office London
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