Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC
Robert D. Van de Vuurst has been a go-to lawyer in the aviation industry in the United States and globally since 1987. For almost 30 years, Robert's aviation clients have counted on him to oversee nearly every corporate, regulatory and transactional matter that they have. Based out of the Firm's Johnson City/Tri-Cities office, Robert brings an insider's perspective to the industry that allows him to strategically guide clients through opportunities, navigate regulatory hurdles all the while keeping an eye on the bottom line.
Robert has overseen and been directly responsible for more than $2 billion in aircraft purchases and sales, both to and from original equipment manufacturers (OEM's) and private parties. He has spent much of his professional career as outside general counsel for major aviation industry clients, including 12 years for Edwards and Associates, Inc., which was the largest independent broker-dealer of used helicopters in the world at the time. Robert was lead counsel and oversaw the transaction for Edwards & Associates, Inc. and its shareholders when the company was sold to Bell Helicopter Textron in 1999.
Robert currently serves as outside general counsel for the world's largest aftermarket helicopter accessory manufacturer (Dart Aerospace) as well as the world's largest independent helicopter leasing company (Waypoint Leasing). Robert handles, among other issues, aircraft sales, purchases and leases; finance and debt matters, including secured and unsecured credit and bond facilities, completion contracts and distribution agreements; FAA regulatory matters including the filing and prosecution of Supplemental Type Certificates, Part 135 and 145 regulatory issues; alcohol and drug testing and pilot records compliance matters; and general litigation supervision. He also assists with tax issues, aircraft ownership structuring, aviation finance and asset securitization matters, and domestic and international aircraft registration.
Robert has a unique wealth of practical, hands-on aviation management experience as well. From 2010 to 2012, Robert served as the COO of Era Group Inc., and President of Era Helicopters LLC, one of the largest helicopter operators in the world. In his management positions with Era, Robert was primarily responsible for all day-to-day activities, including its offshore oil and gas support operations in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, its tour division in Juneau and Denali, Alaska, its air medical EMS operations in the northeast United States and Florida, its joint venture Part 142 Training Center in Lake Charles, Louisiana, all international and joint venture activities (including a large operation in Brazil), and its international operations and aircraft leasing division. Era had approximately 900 employees, 180 aircraft, and $275 million in annual revenue, all of which were under Robert's direct supervision. In his role as President, he gained valuable experience in finance and accounting matters (including the negotiation and closing of a $350 million dollar revolving credit facility) as well as all other parts and parcels of a multi-faceted international aviation company.