Rachel Welford

Member

Washington, D.C.

(202) 912-4825

(202) 304-1451

Recent News:

More Than 200 Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Named Best Lawyers and Ones to Watch

210 Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 24 of the firm’s nationwide offices for inclusion in the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

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 and 2022, 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.

Experience

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. 

News

More Than 200 Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Named Best Lawyers and Ones to Watch

August 22, 2022

210 Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 24 of the firm’s nationwide offices for inclusion in the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

13 Cozen O'Connor Attorneys Named 2022 D.C. Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

July 12, 2022

Super Lawyers has named 13 Cozen O’Connor attorneys to its 2022 Washington D.C. Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists.

Legal 500 Recognizes Six Cozen O’Connor Practice Areas and 14 Cozen O'Connor Attorneys in its 2022 Legal Guide

July 11, 2022

For 30 years, The Legal 500 has assessed the strengths of law firms in more than 100 jurisdictions. The rankings use a series of criteria, including client feedback, submissions from law firms, and interviews with leading private practice lawyers.

Chambers Ranks 86 Cozen O’Connor Lawyers, 22 Practice Areas in Chambers USA 2022 Guide

June 02, 2022

Chambers USA, the leading annual guide to the top lawyers and law firms in the United States, has ranked 86 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields in the guide’s 2022 edition.

Cozen O'Connor Promotes 28 Attorneys to Member

March 25, 2022

Cozen O'Connor promoted 28 attorneys to member in March.

More Than 205 Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Named Best Lawyers and Ones to Watch By The Best Lawyers In America

August 19, 2021

Best Lawyers selected 210 Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 23 of the firm’s nationwide offices for inclusion in the 2022 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

Legal 500 Recognizes Six Cozen O’Connor Practice Areas and 12 Cozen O'Connor Attorneys in its 2021 Legal Guide

June 17, 2021

The Legal 500 United States named Cozen O’Connor’s Aviation, Construction, Immigration, Insurance, and Maritime practices and Cozen O’Connor attorneys Scott Bettridge, Raymond DeLuca, Geoffrey Ferrer, Bruce Ficken, David Heffernan, Jeffrey Lawrence, Robert Magovern, Anne Mickey, Jeffrey Mullen, Josh Stein, Jeff Vogel, and Rachel Welford to its 2021 Legal Guide.

82 Cozen O’Connor Lawyers, 19 Practices Earn Top Recognition in Chambers USA 2021 Guide

May 26, 2021

Chambers USA, the leading annual guide to the top lawyers and law firms in the United States, has ranked 82 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields in the guide’s 2021 edition; of those, 15 lawyers have been recognized nationally.

JD Supra Selects Four Cozen O’Connor Attorneys as Top Authors

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.

More Than 200 Cozen O’Connor Attorneys Named Best Lawyers and Ones to Watch By The Best Lawyers In America

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).

Aviation Industry Attorney Rachel Welford Returns to Cozen O’Connor’s Transportation and Trade Group

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.

Publications

Barriers to Entry: FAA Proposes Flight deck Physical Secondary Barriers [Alert]

August 15, 2022

The FAA proposes rule to require new aircraft be outfitted with installed physical secondary barriers to further protect the flight deck from intrusion.

DOT Issues Proposed Rule on Airline Ticket Refunds [Alert]

August 08, 2022

The Department of Transportation issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, titled Airline Ticket Refunds and Consumer Protections.

DOT Issues Bill of Rights for Airline Passengers with Disabilities; New Airline Family Seating Notice [Alert]

July 12, 2022

The U.S. DOT has published a Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights which describes the fundamental rights of air travelers with disabilities.

U.S. Responds to Russian Invasion of Ukraine with Costly Sanctions [Alert]

March 07, 2022

Bob Magovern, Wayne Rohde, and Rachel Welford discuss the series of unprecedented economic sanctions and export controls designed to prevent President Vladimir Putin from raising capital to fund its invasion of Ukraine.

TSA Releases Five-Year Air Cargo Security Roadmap [Alert]

January 05, 2022

Rachel Welford discusses TSA's recently releases Air Cargo Security Roadmap.

U.S. Government Requires COVID-19 Vaccination for Foreign Visitors Arriving by Air; Modifies Pre-Departure Testing and Data Collection Requirements [Alert]

October 28, 2021

Jonathon Foglia and Rachel Welford discuss the president's proclamation and the CDC's orders that impose additional restrictions and documentary requirements on airlines and other air operators, passengers, and crew members to combat the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

FAA Proposes to Increase Rest Periods for U.S. Airline Flight Attendants [Alert]

October 25, 2021

David Heffernan and Rachel Welford discuss the FAA's NPRM to require flight attendants at large U.S. airlines receive a rest period of at least 10 consecutive hours between periods of duty lasting 14 hours or less.

Biden’s Competition EO Mandates Scrutiny of Airline Practices [Alert]

July 12, 2021

Jonathon Foglia and Rachel Welford discuss President Biden's executive order to promote competition across the U.S. economy.

TSA “Secured Packing Facility” Program Will Facilitate Compliance with New Cargo Screening Requirements [Alert]

June 22, 2021

Rachel Welford discusses the TSA's new Secured Packing Facility program designed to help ease the burden of complying with new cargo screening requirements.

OFAC Amends and Reissues More Comprehensive Somalia Sanctions Regulations [Alert]

May 03, 2021

Rachel Welford, Robert Magovern and Wayne Rohde discuss OFAC's reissued Somalia Sanctions Regulations, which incorporate executive orders from 2010.

DHS Again Postpones REAL ID Deadline [Alert]

April 29, 2021

Rachel Welford discusses DHS's extension of the REAL ID deadline to May 3, 2023.

U.S. Airlines, Aviation Contractors to Receive Additional $15 Billion Under American Rescue Plan Act [Alert]

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.

CDC Requires COVID-19 Testing of International Passenger Arrivals in the United States [Alert]

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.

Congress Provides Additional $15 Billion in COVID-Related Payroll Support Funding for U.S. Airlines

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.

DOT Implements New Legal Paradigm for Regulating Airlines [Alert]

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.”

DOT Confirms That Comfort Animals Are Not Service Animals [Alert]

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.

GAO Report: TSA Should Review Its “Third-Party Testing” Program for New Security Technology [Alert]

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.

Senate Bill Would Require TSA Temperature Checks at U.S. Airports [Alert]

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.

Up in Smoke: OFAC Further Erodes Obama-Era Cuba Rules [Alert]

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.

DOT/HHS/DHS Issue Joint COVID-19 Guidance to Airlines and Airports

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.”

TSA Has Legal Authority to Conduct Air Passenger Temperature Screenings [Alert]

May 20, 2020

Rachel Welford discusses how and why TSA should begin temperature screenings.

DOT Issues New Guidance Regarding Airlines’ Obligation to Provide Passenger Refunds [Alert]

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.

FAA Issues Guidance for Airlines to Carry Cargo in Passenger Cabin

April 20, 2020

Rachel Welford discusses the FAA's guidance for passenger airlines contemplating using empty apace in their aircraft to transport cargo.

TSA Explores Ways to Streamline International Air Cargo Screening [Alert]

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.

DOT Offers Airlines No Relief From Ticket Refund Obligations in Light of COVID-19 Flight Disruptions [Alert]

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.

DOT to Impose Minimum Air Service Obligations For U.S. Carriers Receiving CARES Act Financial Assistance [Alert]

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.

Trump Announces REAL ID Compliance Deadline Postponed Due to COVID-19

March 26, 2020

Rachel Welford explains why DHS postponed REAL ID compliance to October 1, 2021.

DOT Clarifies its Enforcement Policy Regarding Coronavirus [Alert]

March 06, 2020

Rachel Welford discusses DOT's “Enforcement Notice Regarding Denying Boarding by Airlines of Individuals Suspected of Having Coronavirus.”

GAO Urges a More Strategic Approach to Combatting “Insider” Security Threats at U.S. Airports [Alert]

February 19, 2020

Rachel Welford discusses the GAO's recommendations to the TSA for combatting insider threats at U.S. airports.

Comfort Animals are Not Service Animals: U.S. DOT to Narrow Scope of Service Animal Accommodations [Alert]

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.

DOT Proposes Revisions to its Airline Tarmac Delay Regulations [Alert]

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.

TSA Adopts Alternative Approach to Enforcement Against Airlines and Other Regulated Entities

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.

Industry Sectors

Education

  • George Mason University School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, 2014
  • University of Michigan, B.A., 2008

Awards & Honors

Best Lawyers in America "Ones to Watch" 2021-2023

JD Supra’s 2021 Readers’ Choice Awards, Top Author 2021, 2022

Chambers and Partners USA, Associate to Watch 2021, 2022

The Legal 500 United States "Rising Star" for Transport: Aviation and Air Travel 2021, 2022

Super Lawyers "Rising Star" in Washington, D.C. for Aviation and Aerospace, 2021, 2022

  • Virginia
  • District of Columbia
  • Pennsylvania
  • American Bar Association Forum on Air and Space Law
  • Women in Aviation, International
  • Scholarship Committee Co-Chair, American Bar Association Forum on Air & Space Law