On Wednesday, November 3 faculty and students welcomed Justine Harrison, general counsel and corporate secretary for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). After graduating Cornell University and University of Nevada-Las Vegas, William S. Boyd Law School, Harrison spent more than the last decade providing counsel in aviation while protecting pilots’ freedom to fly. In addition to working at AOPA, Harrison and her husband are both pilots and have built their own plane and frequently fly the aircraft.  

Her talk on Wednesday touched on why it is important for pilots and aviation managers to know their legal rights and to keep general aviation accessible to all. Harrison explained that she deals with pilot deviation, civil matters, falsification and more at AOPA, and noted that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) frequently utilizes legal enforcement against pilots in these matters and that this is becoming an issue. Clients approach AOPA with a case believing the FAA’s ruling is incorrect and with an appeal to the National Transportation Safety Board. This approach can save a pilot from being reprimanded by the FAA, and with AOPA’s assistance, pilots and aviation managers can instead be educated in what went wrong and ensure that it will not happen again. In addition to working with clients, Harrison monitors cases that might have sweeping effects across the aviation industry.  

AOPA offers a High School Aviation STEM Curriculum, the first of its kind, offering students comprehensive four-year aviation study options that are aligned to Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. The program is free to high school students across the United States.