Rachel concentrates her practice on aviation regulatory matters, with a particular focus on advising clients on aviation security law and policy involving U.S. government agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). She represents airlines, airports, aviation security vendors, and other regulated entities before TSA and CBP on administrative investigations and civil enforcement actions. She advises TSA-regulated entities on compliance with TSA security regulations as well as TSA’s Full All-Cargo Aircraft Operator Standard Security Program (FACAOSSP), Aircraft Operator Standard Security Program (AOSSP), Indirect Air Carrier Standard Security Program (IACSSP), and Foreign Air Carrier Model Security Program (MSP). As part of counseling clients on TSA compliance and enforcement matters, Rachel advises on appropriate mitigation measures that have proven to be successful in reducing liability and enhancing compliance. Rachel also advises clients on the legal and business ramifications of evolving TSA and CBP legislative and regulatory changes as well as transactional matters with an aviation security nexus.
As part of her broader aviation practice, Rachel counsels major aviation companies and entities on the increasingly complex safety and economic regulatory measures promulgated by domestic and international regulatory bodies. She also advises U.S. and foreign airlines on strategies for compliance with consumer protection and aviation safety laws implemented by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and helps clients secure economic and code sharing authority from the DOT.
Additionally, Rachel counsels enterprises through aviation regulatory issues concerning mergers and acquisitions, licensing, and certification, and briefs clients on due diligence and other considerations associated with multimillion-dollar commercial aviation transactions. She has experience defending clients in FAA investigations and enforcement actions, including denials of airman medical certificates.
Rachel returned to Cozen O’Connor in 2019 after serving as the director of security and government affairs at American Airlines. In that role, she gained valuable hands-on security operations experience as well as a deep knowledge of security policy matters. She was also an associate attorney in the Aviation and Corporate Practice groups at an Am Law 200 law firm in Washington, D.C., where she advised high net worth individuals on FAA regulations pertaining to personal use of business aircraft and provided counsel on the regulatory landscape surrounding commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems. Prior to attending law school, Rachel was a Corporate Communications specialist at Delta Air Lines. She has also held positions at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), Airlines for America (A4A), and Spirit Airlines.
Rachel earned her J.D., magna cum laude, from George Mason University School of Law with a concentration in National Security Law and Policy. She received her Bachelor of Arts with high distinction, Phi Beta Kappa, in political science and organizational studies from the University of Michigan. Rachel serves as co-chair of the Scholarship Committee of the American Bar of the American Bar Association Forum on Air and Space Law and is a member of Women in Aviation International. She was named to Best Lawyers in America’s “Ones to Watch” category for 2021, which recognizes attorneys for outstanding professional excellence in private practice in the United States. Rachel was also selected as a top 10 author as part of JD Supra’s 2021 Readers’ Choice Awards for her thought leadership on transportation legal issues in 2020. She prefers a window over an aisle seat.
Transportation Security Administration
Advised a large foreign air carrier on defense against a significant TSA civil penalty arising from the alleged violation of TSA cargo screening requirements and the carrier’s Model Security Program (MSP) at a major U.S. airport.
Advised a large U.S. passenger carrier on defense against a significant TSA civil penalty arising from the alleged violation of TSA screening requirements and the carrier’s Aircraft Operator Standard Security Program (AOSSP) at a major U.S. airport.
Counseled a leading aviation security services provider on its response to a TSA Letter of Investigation that involved the provider, which resulted in the avoidance of liability for a substantial civil penalty.
Successfully defended a leading U.S. cargo airline as part of a TSA investigation alleging violations of TSA’s security requirements and the carrier’s Full All-Cargo Aircraft Operator Standard Security Program (FACAOSSP), resulting in no enforcement action against the airline.
Successfully defended a U.S. flight school in a TSA investigation alleging a violation of TSA’s regulations related to its Alien Flight School Program (AFSP), resulting in no enforcement action against the flight school.
Successfully defended a TSA-regulated indirect air carrier specializing in the movement of perishable goods in a TSA investigation alleging a violation of TSA’s regulations applicable to indirect air carriers and the carrier’s Indirect Air Carrier Standard Security Program (IACSSP). This included advising on appropriate mitigation measures to reduce liability and increase compliance. TSA did not take enforcement action against the client.
Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration
Advised a leading aviation industry trade organization and individual U.S. airline members on a pending DOT rulemaking to redefine airlines’ obligations to accommodate service animals, including emotional support or comfort animals in the aircraft cabin.
Counseled a large U.S. passenger airline on compliance issues relating to the CARES Act, the legislation Congress passed in response to COVID-19, which included $25 billion in financial support for the airline industry.
Counseled a large U.S. passenger airline on the negotiation and structuring of an innovative set of joint venture and related agreements in furtherance of obtaining clearance for implementation of the alliance from the DOT.
Advised an FAA-regulated manufacturer and supplier of in-flight entertainment systems on the aviation regulatory aspects of its avionics business.
Advised a large U.S. passenger airline on airline alliance issues, including preparing comments on applications for immunity from U.S. antitrust laws for competitors’ airline alliances, which successfully persuaded the DOT to propose competition remedy conditions.
Represented non-U.S. air carriers in obtaining licenses/authorizations from the DOT and FAA for a range of air services to/from the United States, including wet leases, charters, and codeshares.
Represented a law enforcement officer and pilot who faced a Notice of Proposed Certificate Action by the FAA proposing to suspend his pilot certificate for actions taken pursuant to his law enforcement duties. Successfully persuaded the FAA to withdraw its notice in its entirety.
Represented a pilot and flight instructor in connection with a five-year suspension of his medical license imposed by the FAA based on an erroneous finding that a minor head injury affected his ability to safely pilot an airplane. Persuaded the FAA’s Federal Air Surgeon, through the use of extensive medical testimony, that the client should be cleared to fly, effective immediately.
Advised a provider of commercial drone services on FAA regulations governing the operation of drones in restricted airspace.
April 05, 2021
Cozen O’Connor is pleased to announce that Bernard Nash and Lori Kalani, co-chairs of the firm’s State Attorneys General practice, Michael Schmidt, vice chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment Department, and Rachel Welford, an attorney in the firm’s Transportation & Trade Group have been selected as top authors for JD Supra’s 2021 Readers’ Choice Awards for their thought leadership on key topics during 2020.
August 20, 2020
Best Lawyers selected 201 Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 23 of the firm’s nationwide offices for inclusion in the 2021 edition of The Best Lawyers in America© (Copyright 2020 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, SC).
April 08, 2019
Rachel Welford has returned to the firm’s Transportation & Trade Group. She joins Cozen O’Connor from American Airlines, where she served as the director of security and government affairs.
February 05, 2016
All of the largest global airlines have some presence in the U.S., subjecting them to a range of legal, regulatory and business challenges that require law firm expertise. While that work is often spread around, six firms have been chosen by the industry as go-to firms for major legal matters, including Cozen O'Connor.
March 15, 2021
Rachel Welford and Katie Sobotta discuss the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 that provides much-needed relief to airlines for the continuation of employee wages, salaries, and benefits.
January 15, 2021
Rachel Welford and Kathryn Sobotta discuss the CDC's new notice and order requiring pre-departure negative COVID-19 tests from all U.S.-bound passengers traveling by aircraft from any foreign country.
December 23, 2020
Congress has passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, a comprehensive $900 billion COVID relief stimulus package and $1.4 trillion omnibus bill.
December 21, 2020
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently issued new regulations codifying specific criteria for interpreting its fundamental regulatory authority under 49 U.S.C. section 41712 to prohibit airlines from engaging in “unfair or deceptive practices.”
December 07, 2020
David Heffernan and Rachel Welford discuss the DOT's new regulation, “Traveling by Air with Service Animals,” that substantially revises its rules governing the transportation of service animals onboard aircraft.
November 10, 2020
Rachel Welford discusses TSA’s third-party testing program and the GAO's report that it may be in need of a tune-up.
September 30, 2020
Rachel Welford discusses the bipartisan bill that would require TSA to conduct temperature checks on all passengers and other individuals seeking entry to an airport’s sterile area.
September 29, 2020
Don Kassilke and Rachel Welford discuss OFAC's amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) to further restrict U.S. engagement with Cuba in order to deny revenue to the Cuban regime.
July 06, 2020
On July 2, 2020, the U.S. Departments of Transportation, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services issued a joint guidance document titled “Runway to Recovery- the United States Framework for Airlines and Airports to Mitigate the Public Health Risks of Coronavirus.”
May 20, 2020
Rachel Welford discusses how and why TSA should begin temperature screenings.
May 13, 2020
Rachel Welford discusses DOT's guidance for airline carriers operating flights to, from, and within in the United States on when it is necessary to offer ticketed passengers refunds.
April 20, 2020
Rachel Welford discusses the FAA's guidance for passenger airlines contemplating using empty apace in their aircraft to transport cargo.
April 15, 2020
Rachel Welford discusses the TSA's RFI soliciting input from the air cargo industry regarding new international screening standards for air cargo.
April 07, 2020
Rachel Welford and David Heffernan discuss DOT's notice regarding "Refunds By Carriers Given the Unprecedented Impact of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency on Air Travel" and what carriers must do to ensure their compliance.
March 31, 2020
David Heffernan and Rachel Welford discuss DOT's proposed parameters for implementing the authority granted it by the CARES Act to maintain scheduled air transportation to U.S. points.
March 26, 2020
Rachel Welford explains why DHS postponed REAL ID compliance to October 1, 2021.
March 06, 2020
Rachel Welford discusses DOT's “Enforcement Notice Regarding Denying Boarding by Airlines of Individuals Suspected of Having Coronavirus.”
February 19, 2020
Rachel Welford discusses the GAO's recommendations to the TSA for combatting insider threats at U.S. airports.
February 03, 2020
David Heffernan and Rachel Welford discuss the significant changes the DOT made to its regulations relating to the transportation of service animals by air.
October 28, 2019
David Heffernan and Rachel Welford discuss DOT's efforts to conform their regulations to the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016’s requirements.
September 09, 2019
How do you create a regulatory framework that sustains the highest levels of aviation security through “shared outcomes”? The Transportation Security Administration’s new Action Plan Program (APP) seeks to answer that essential question.
October 19, 2016
Don Kassilke and Rachel Welford discuss a change in OFAC policy and regulations that expands opportunities for U.S. persons to explore and develop business relationships in Cuba.
October 14, 2016
Don Kassilke and Rachel Welford discuss the much anticipated executive order formally terminating U.S. sanctions against Burma.
September 23, 2016
This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update discusses DOT’s selection of carriers to operate U.S.-Havana and U.S.-Tokyo (Haneda) air services, the FAA’s implementation of its small unmanned aircraft systems/drone rules, new increases in DOT civil penalty amounts, the FAA’s draft PFC order, GAO’s reporting on FAA oversight of repair stations, and the latest DOT and FAA enforcement actions.
August 08, 2016
This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update discusses new FAA reauthorization legislation, DOT awards for U.S. carrier scheduled service to Cuba, DOT’s decision to address consumer notification requirements regarding changes in airline frequent flyer program rules, and more.
June 23, 2016
David Heffernan and Rachel Welford discuss the FAA's long awaited final rule regarding the certification and commercial operation of small unmanned aircraft systems in U.S. airspace.
March 22, 2016
Don Kassilke and Rachel Welford discuss the latest amendments, which became effective March 16, 2016, further ease sanctions in the areas of travel, banking and shipping, among others.
February 01, 2016
This edition includes the recently signed U.S.-Mexico bilateral agreement that liberalizes air services between the two countries, new Cuba-related regulations loosening restrictions on U.S.-Cuba air services and the export and reexport of U.S.-origin aircraft to Cuba, changes to the Visa Waiver Program, proposed dates for upcoming DOT aviation-related rulemakings, the DOT Office of the Inspector General’s reports criticizing FAA operations, oversight, cost controls and air traffic control staffing, DOT animal incident reporting guidance, new FAA Stage 5 aircraft noise standards, DHS implementation of REAL ID requirements for air travelers, and the latest DOT and FAA enforcement actions.
December 22, 2015
Under a general license issued earlier this month, all trade-related transactions that are ordinarily incident to an exportation to or from Burma of goods, technology, or non-financial services are authorized, provided the exportation is not to, from, or on behalf of a person or entity on the SDN list.
December 21, 2015
This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update includes looming revisions to the Visa Waiver Program, DOT’s plans for an additional round of new regulations on disabled passenger-related issues, the FAA’s new registration requirements for small unmanned aircraft systems/drones, DOT guidance on airline liability for damage to components of checked baggage, Congressional bills on Export-Import Bank reauthorization, pilots’ rights, and Visa Waiver Program Changes, the status of FAA reauthorization legislation, the FAA’s updated airspace obstruction standards, and recent FAA enforcement actions.
December 21, 2015
The U.S. State Department said that under the deal, U.S. airlines could operate up to 110 round-trip flights per day between the United States and Cuba as soon as 2016, which includes 20 flights to Havana and 10 to each of the other nine international airports in Cuba.
December 10, 2015
The following post was written by Rachel Welford, an associate in the Cozen O'Connor Aviation Regulatory Practice Group.
The White House is proposing changes to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) as well as enhanced security measures that would tighten the entry requirements for U.S.-bound alien...
November 13, 2015
This edition discusses the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against United Airlines and Delta Air Lines seeking to block the carriers’ proposed slot swap at Newark, DOT’s ban on electronic smoking devices in checked baggage, DOT and the FAA’s planned registration requirements for drones/unmanned aircraft, the FAA’s new safety compliance philosophy, new FAA rules on production certificates and approvals, APHIS final rules on agricultural quarantine and inspection services, a Congressional hearing on TSA security oversight, and the latest DOT and FAA enforcement actions.
October 20, 2015
Beginning on October 18, 2015, JCPOA participants will start taking the steps necessary to implement their JCPOA commitments.
October 02, 2015
This edition reports on Congress’s six-month extension of FAA’s reauthorization; new U.S. Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreements with the European Union and Canada; the FAA’s final rule on the disclosure of aircraft seat dimensions to facilitate the use of child safety seats on airplanes; DOT’s latest small community air service development grants; the Treasury and Commerce Departments’ new amendments to the Cuba Sanctions Regulations.
September 28, 2015
These regulatory changes build on earlier revisions published in January 2015 and further ease sanctions related to authorized travel, telecommunications, Internet-based services, business operations in Cuba, and remittances. They do not, however, lift the sanctions, and most prohibitions remain in place.
August 24, 2015
DOT’s launch of an investigation of alleged price gouging by airlines following Amtrak train service disruption in the Northeast Corridor, the agency’s continuing review of the Delta/Aeromexico antitrust immunity application, DOT’s and the Departments of State and Commerce’s ongoing review of subsidy allegations brought by the three largest U.S. carriers against Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways.
July 02, 2015
An update on the multi-agency review of U.S. carrier allegations of subsidy against three gulf carriers, recent applications for antitrust immunity for airline alliances, EPA’s initial action to address greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, DHS amendments to the ESTA program and planned expansion of customs and immigration preclearance facilities at additional foreign airports, Congressional hearings on FAA reauthorization, aviation security and drone operations, and recent DOT and FAA enforcement actions.