Michael W. Smith

Partner, New York


Esteemed US practitioner Michael Smith receives high praise from market sources, who comment: “He is wonderful about ensuring that we get whatever we need whenever we need it.” They go on to say: “He is very supportive and he always makes himself available.”
Chambers USA 2016


Michael W. Smith concentrates on aircraft finance, equipment leasing, and other corporate and finance transactions. His aircraft finance experience includes US Ex-Im Bank and other export credit agency-supported transactions, AFIC-supported transactions, warehouse and other pooled asset-backed facilities, portfolio acquisitions and finance transactions, vendor finance matters, PDP financings, restructuring and bankruptcy matters, ABS transactions, securitizations, securities offerings and sales of lease receivables.

Mr. Smith has been identified as a leading aviation, transportation and asset finance lawyer in independent publications and surveys from Chambers, Legal 500, Euromoney plc, Who's Who Legal, US News—Best Lawyers and others.

His recent aircraft finance experience includes serving as special counsel for the debtors in the Waypoint Leasing bankruptcy proceedings in connection with the sale of the aircraft of the debtors, representation of ING Capital in the first aircraft financing supported by aircraft non-payment insurance from commercial insurers, and representation of CIT in the financing of a pool of aircraft engines serviced by GECAS utilizing a novel pari passu first lien loan structure for loans from affiliates of the equity investor.  He also acted for 8 Rivers Capital in connection with the equity investment by Occidental Petroleum in the capital of Net Power.

Mr. Smith has worked on financings involving a wide range of assets, including aircraft and engines, helicopters, railroad rolling stock, air traffic control equipment, power plants, telecommunications equipment and semi-conductor production equipment. He also has experience in project finance, joint ventures, shipping, acquisition finance, trade receivables finance, venture capital and leveraged buyout transactions.

He is active in pro bono matters for numerous clients including Acumen, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, Rainforest Alliance and Carnegie Hall.

Mr. Smith was previously based in Greece, England, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Bars and Courts
New York State Bar
Duke University School of Law
University of Iowa


Waypoint Leasing, 2019
Served as Special Counsel to the Debtors in the Waypoint Leasing bankruptcy proceedings, including the coordination of the sale of more than 125 aircraft on lease to 42 lessees in 31 different jurisdictions.

MUFG Union Bank, 2019
Represented MUFG Union Bank in the financing of a Boeing 747-8F aircraft delivered to Air Bridge Cargo Airlines.  This was the first transaction to utilize the Aircraft Financing Solutions Program of Aviation Capital Group, which issued a guaranty to support the payment of principal and interest on the loans.

ING Capital, 2018
Represented ING Capital in the first-ever aircraft finance non-payment insurance financing involving a Boeing 747-8i aircraft operated by Korean Air Lines.  The non-payment insurance policy was coordinated by Aircraft Finance Insurance Consortium of Marsh, Inc.  Named “Overall Deal of the Year” by Airfinance Journal 2018.

ING Capital and Societe Général, 2018
Represented ING Capital and Societe Générale in the financing of the first five 737-MAX aircraft acquired by Ethiopian Airlines Group, including a non-payment insurance policy issued by a  group of insurers arranged by Aircraft Finance Insurance Consortium of Marsh, Inc.  Named “AFIC Deal of the Year - Africa” by Global Transport Finance 2018.

8 Rivers Capital, 2018
Represented 8 Rivers Capital in connection with the investment by Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, LLC (OLCV), a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, in the equity capital of NET Power, LLC.  OLCV’s investment will advance the development of NET Power’s low-cost, natural gas electric power system that generates no atmospheric emissions and inherently captures all carbon dioxide (CO2).  Other investors in Net Power include Exelon Generation, McDermott and 8 Rivers Capital.

CIT, 2017
Represented CIT in the syndicated financing of a pool of 18 GE90, GEnx and Trent aircraft engines acquired by a bankruptcy remote subsidiary of White Oak Capital, as equity investor.  The financing included a novel parri passu first lien loan structure for loans from affiliates of the equity investor. GECAS is the servicer for the engines. 

Kenya Airways, 2017
Represented Kenya Airways in connection with its $2,000,000,000 financial restructuring, one of the largest and most complex corporate transactions ever completed in Kenya.

Wings Capital, 2016
Represented Wings Capital Partners in a secured revolving loan facility with Wells Fargo to finance the purchase of aircraft leased to various domestic and international airlines. 

JetBlue Airways, 2014
Represented JetBlue Airways in the sale of US$225 million of privately placed Enhanced Equipment Trust Certificates (EETCs) in March 2014.

Micron Technology, 2013
Represented Micron Semiconductor Asia Pte. Ltd. as issuer and Micron Technology, Inc. as parent guarantor in the issuance in the capital markets of US$462 million of Secured Notes, guaranteed by US Ex-Im Bank. The notes were offered under a medium term note program in Singapore.

JP Morgan Securities, 2012
Represented JP Morgan Securities as initial purchaser in the issuance of notes guaranteed by US Ex-Im Bank in the capital markets. The notes were issued by an affiliate of GOL to finance engine maintenance services performed by Delta. The transaction was selected as 2012 "Latin American Deal of the Year" by Airfinance Journal.

Financings for Helicopter Leasing Companies, 2012–2014
Represented foreign and US financial institutions as lead arrangers, lenders and initial purchasers in numerous financing transactions for leading helicopter leasing companies (including secured term loan and revolving credit facilities, bridge financings, PDP financings, unsecured loans and US Ex-Im Bank capital markets transactions). He has also acted for helicopter leasing companies and operators in secured term loan and revolving credit facilities and export credit financings.

Speaking Engagements

"Recent Developments in Aviation Finance Non-Payment Products", September 14, 2018 American Bar Association Meetings - Austin (legal panel member)

"Insider Views on Industry Expectations, Accessing the Capital Markets, Export Credit Agencies, and Re-Engining", February 23, 2011: ACI Aircraft Finance & Leasing Conference – New York, (legal panel member)

"US Ex-Im Bank's Response to the Financial Crisis", April 22, 2010: American Bar Association Meetings – Denver, (legal panel member)


Working it Out, Airfinance Journal, January 2004, (article on airline lease and loan restructuring)

Awards and Recognition

Band 1: Transportation: Aviation Finance 
Chambers USA 2020

Band 3: Asset Finance (Global-wide)
Chambers Global 2020

Leading Individual: Aviation
Euromoney plc: Best of the Best USA 2020

Leading Lawyer: Transport
Who's Who Legal 2020

Highly Regarded Individual: Aviation
Who's Who Legal 2020

Recommended Lawyer: Equipment Finance Law
US News — Best Lawyers 2012 – 2020