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Keynote Speakers

Bruce Landsberg
Vice Chairman
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

Bruce Landsberg was sworn in as Vice Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board on August 7, 2018, to become its 43rd Member. Before coming to the NTSB, Vice Chairman Landsberg was with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association from 1992 to 2014 where he served as executive director of the Air Safety Foundation until 2010, and then as president of the AOPA Foundation and Air Safety Institute until he retired in 2014. Under his leadership the organization received international recognition and numerous awards for promoting light aircraft safety. During his AOPA tenure he conducted countless safety seminars and wrote a monthly column on aviation safety for its magazine, AOPA Pilot. Vice Chairman Landsberg owns a Beechcraft Bonanza that he flies for business and pleasure. He has more than 7,000 hours of flight experience and holds an Air Transport Pilot certificate with instructor ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land, instruments, and advanced/ instrument ground instructor certificates. He also sailed a variety of boats for more than three decades.

James Viola
President and Chief Executive Officer
Helicopter Association International

James A. Viola joined Helicopter Association International (HAI) as President and CEO in January 2020. Prior to joining HAI, he most recently served as a Senior Executive for the Federal Aviation Administration, in the office of Aviation Safety, as director of General Aviation Safety Assurance. He was responsible for maintaining consistency and standardization in the application of safety oversight activities for the GA community. He was a government representative on both the International Helicopter Safety Team and the United States Helicopter Safety Team. Viola’s aviation career began with the US Army, with the majority of his flying done as a special operations MH-6 and MH-47 helicopter pilot. He was promoted through positions of increasing responsibility, achieving the rank of colonel. His final military assignment was as Division Chief for Army Aviation Current Operations in the Pentagon. A strong advocate for GA, Viola flies as often as he can. He splits his time flying between a Robinson Helicopter and an AG-5B Tiger airplane, depending on whether or not a runway is involved. He holds airline transport pilot ratings for helicopters and airplanes and is a dual-rated certificated flight instructor. He has accumulated more than 6,500 flight hours, which includes 1,100 with night-vision goggles. Viola holds a Master's degree in Strategic Studies from the United States (U.S.) Army War College in Carlisle, PA; a Master's degree in International Relations from Auburn University in Montgomery, AL; a Master's degree in Military Operational Art and Science from Air University in Maxwell AFB, AL; and a Bachelor of Science from East Stroudsburg University in East Stroudsburg, PA. Viola holds professional membership of the Pi Sigma Alpha, National Political Science Honor Society; Lifetime member of the Army Aviation Association of America; the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association, the Veterans of Foreign Wars; Military Officer Association of America; Society of Aviation and Flight Educators; National Association of Flight Instructors; and the Theta Chi Fraternity.

Steve Blakey
President and Chief Executive Officer
Starr Insurance Holdings

Steve Blakey is president and chief executive officer for Starr Insurance Holdings, Inc., one of the fastest-growing commercial property insurers in the world. He also serves on several boards for Starr’s various insurance entities. Steve has over 35 years of distinguished leadership experience in the commercial insurance industry. He was responsible for establishing Starr’s London operation in 2006, expanding the company’s capacity through its CVS 1919 Syndicate, Lloyds Managing Agency and newly-established company subsidiary. He is widely-recognized for his expertise in the property, casualty, aviation, reinsurance and captive management disciplines. Prior to his current roles, Steve held positions increasing in responsibility for Starr Aviation including chief financial officer and chief operating officer before becoming president. Under his leadership, Starr’s Aviation division expanded throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, and Latin America and quickly became a leading global underwriter of aviation insurance.

Jean-François Bisson-Ross
Senior Counsel, Litigation
Air Canada

Jean-François Bisson-Ross is Senior Counsel, Litigation, at Air Canada. He provides legal advice for all litigated matters concerning Air Canada, handling class actions, commercial as well as insured claims. He represents Air Canada before various courts of law and administrative tribunals. He is also a member of the Air Canada Emergency Response Team. Jean-Francois regularly provides advice and operational training on disruptive passengers and immigration issues. Prior to joining Air Canada’s legal department in 2013, Jean-François practiced in the Transportation / Immigration Law group of at a well-established Law Firm in Montreal for 8 years. In 2006, Jean-François obtained a Bachelor of Civil Law degree and an LLB in Common Law from McGill University in Montreal. He was admitted to the Quebec Bar in 2007.

Nicolas Drolet
Litigation Counsel
Air Canada

Nicolas represents Air Canada in Civil Court litigation cases as well different kinds of adversarial legal proceedings such as arbitration, mediation and administrative law proceedings before all levels of provincial and federal jurisdictions. He also manages and provides guidance to resolve more complex or high-valued customer claims and have an oversight on outsourced litigation cases globally. In addition to his role of counsel, Nicolas heads Air Canada’s global claims team. In that capacity he manages and supervises internal claims case managers, as well as our external counsels both domestic and international. As such, he plays an active role in risk management and prevention. Nicolas works to identify and analyze systemic issues with the objective to provide guidance and educate internal clients. Nicolas earned, and still holds his pilot’s licence after graduating from the Centre québécois de formation aéronautique (CQFA) in 2006, having received the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) Scholarship for excellence in multi-engine, instrument-based flying. He has also completed technical training in aviation, for which he still holds a valid airline pilot licence. Nicolas has flown aircraft throughout the country, mainly in the Canadian North, carrying both cargo and passengers and performing medevac services.

Michael Dery
Partner & Practice Group Leader
Alexander Holburn

Michael Dery is a Partner and the group leader of the firm’s Aviation Practice. Mr. Dery is a member of the firm’s Executive Team. He is also editor of our Aviation Law Blog. With a concentration on aviation law, Mr. Dery represents aviation insurers, airlines, aircraft owners, flight schools, UAV operators, Approved (Aviation) Maintenance Organizations, and Fixed Base Operators in complex litigation and regulatory matters . Mr. Dery represents clients in litigation arising out of aircraft accidents and incidents, aviation related product liability litigation, airline claims handling, employment matters, human rights matters, and various other transportation-related issues. Mr. Dery has also represented and advised shipping lines, non-vessel operating common carriers, railways, freight forwarders, trucking companies and load brokers. Mr. Dery also acts as regulatory counsel to domestic airlines, foreign airlines and air operators. Mr. Dery has appeared for clients before all levels of court in British Columbia and in the Federal Court of Canada. He also conducts litigation in Ontario and Alberta. He regularly conducts mediations and arbitrations and has extensive experience negotiating complex settlements in multi-party actions.

Clay S. Hunter
Paterson, MacDougall LLP

Clay is a partner at Paterson, MacDougall LLP admitted to the Ontario Bar in 1991. Mr. Hunter attended the University of Oregon (B.A., Political Science 1986; Scholar Athlete, Dean's List); and the University of British Columbia (LL.B., 1989). Mr. Hunter started at the firm in May of 2005 after taking a hiatus from the practice of law in order to pursue a career first as an actor, then as an owner, creator and operator of various Toronto restaurants, bars and night clubs. He was a member of the University of Oregon (*Go Ducks!) and Canadian Junior National Track and Field teams. Mr. Hunter became a partner at Paterson, MacDougall LLP in 2010 and his practice focuses primarily on aviation, tour operator, transportation law and products liability. Mr. Hunter is a trial lawyer and provides advice on litigation arising from aviation accidents; to carriers in passenger injury, baggage and cargo claims; to tour operators in ruined vacation and personal injury claims; to insurers on exposure and subrogation recovery; in the assessment of damages; and has represented clients before the Courts of Ontario, the Federal Court of Canada, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Canadian Transportation Agency, the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada and the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Mr. Hunter successfully argued (pre-Thibodeau) the strong exclusivity approach to the applicability of the Montreal and Warsaw Conventions in O’Mara v. Air Canada (Ont. Sup. Court); the proper interpretation of the Montreal Convention’s notice and checked baggage provisions in Holden v. ACE Aviation (Ont. Div. Court); the proper application of the Montreal Convention’s Art. 35 two-year prescription in Titulescu v. United Airlines (Ont. Sup. Court) and, the tort liability of tour operators for third party acts or omissions being limited to the reasonable selection of competent suppliers in Garofoli v. Air Canada (Ont. Div. Court). Mr. Hunter is a member of the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (FDCC), the Canadian and Ontario Bar Associations, Canadian Defence Lawyers Association, the Advocates’ Society and the American Bar Association: Forum on Air and Space Law, Litigation Section. He is listed in the International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers, Aviation and has been recognized by LEXPERT as a leading practitioner in the field of Aviation each year in its annual surveys 2014 through 2019.