Bar News - October 21, 2015|
Practitioner Profile: Navigating a New Frontier
By: Carol Robidoux
Attorney John Kalled of Kalled Law Offices in Portsmouth and Ossipee with his associate Miriama Sýkorová.
Photos by Melissa Karstedt
In the world of niche law practices, John Kalled is pretty much flying solo. Not only does he run one of only a small number of aviation law practices in the country – Kalled Law Offices of Portsmouth and Ossipee – but Kalled says he knows of no other firm that has organized into two entities, part law firm, part aviation consulting company.
He launched EntreprenAir Group in 2002 after realizing there was a need for the kind of one-stop service provider he’s become.
“The aircraft industry is a totally unregulated business, and I found myself frustrated that brokers, who aren’t licensed and take no responsibility for management and success of any transaction, are making generous commissions when my law practice was doing the majority of the heavy-lifting. So, we set up these two companies, side-by-side,” says Kalled. “What’s unique about us is that we take management responsibility for the entire transaction, start to finish. Our client has one person to call to find out what’s going on, from marketing and sales, to research, to all of the legal work.”
In a typical scenario, someone buying a $10 million late model pre-owned jet in Italy would have to hire a well-known aircraft broker who would go look at the jet for the buyer and provide photos and specifications. To get legal reassurance, the buyer would also have to hire an aviation attorney, for which referrals are few and far between.
It quickly becomes difficult to make sure everyone is communicate and doing their due diligence.
Kalled considers his consulting arm a one-stop service, to make sure an aircraft is totally airworthy, by both US and foreign standards – an arm of his practice that expanded with the hiring in 2010 of attorney Miriama Sýkorová, who brings international expertise from her experience as a law student in the European Union, says Kalled.
“The United States has for a long time represented 70 percent of the world aviation market, so as well established as Western Europe is, even they are way behind the US in development of a private aviation market. That means American companies have been working for a good 20 years to develop a market in Western Europe. Following the dissolution of Soviet Union in central and Eastern Europe, it remains a market to be conquered so to speak… or developed is a better word, as they currently have the least amount of aviation development,” Kalled says.
Kalled first discovered the joy of flying as a kid growing up in Wolfeboro.
“I spent a lot of time riding my bike to this place on Winter Harbor on Lake Winnipesaukee, a private air strip built by hand by a guy named Merwin Horn, whose family owns that whole acreage. It was an orchard and dairy farm, and he had been a fighter pilot in World War II. When he came back to the family farm, he hacked out of the trees on Wolfeboro Neck and built a 1,500-foot grass strip and a hangar, where he taught people to fly. I’d lie in the grass and watch airplanes come and go all day long. I even got to fly with him when I was in the military,” says Kalled, who joined the Air Force at the age of 18, where he officially earned his wings.
After he became an attorney, Kalled knew that whatever kind of practice he built, it would include aviation. Over time, as a member of aircraft and pilots associations, Kalled understood from the inside out what kinds of legal loopholes, voids and barriers existed in aviation law.
“My practice grew to a place where now I’m being called by aircraft owners and aviators, air carriers, and prospective buyers/sellers, to provide legal advice for either private or commercial purposes,” Kalled says. “While it’s not a common transaction here in New Hampshire, because we don’t have a huge population of people buying turbine-class aircraft, some might be surprised that there’s a pretty healthy private jet community in New Hampshire and across New England.”
He considers himself lucky to have followed someone’s solid career advice, to find out what you love and follow that to wherever it leads.
“I’m also fortunate that what I do follows the evolution and development of the aerospace industry. One of the things that’s new in aviation is the proliferation of unmanned vehicles, or ‘drones,’ a word that makes the aviation people cringe. But that is a word that’s evoked public awareness, because they’re used as instruments of war. Today, the incredible potential of drones is becoming very apparent to the civilian population,” says Kalled.
The proliferation of drones and application of drones amounts to a paradigm shift, says Kalled.
“We are at a moment in history where for the first time aircraft that are not piloted are being folded into the national airspace system. The FAA is way behind in drafting regulations that can insure the efficacy of these new technologies to be employed as well as safety situations. Right now they’re handling it on patchwork basis,” says Kalled.
“But it’s also an exciting time. We’re participating in helping the FAA develop their regulations – this will be the first new chapter of the new FAA regulations designed to govern an entirely new technology,” Kalled says. “There has been nothing like this, nothing this big in aviation, since the Wright Brothers.”