Donald advises a number of aircraft lessors, financiers, manufacturers, and domestic and international airlines and aircraft operators on aircraft finance and aviation and aerospace commercial and regulatory law matters. Over the past 15 years, he has advised on the financing or refinancing of more than 900 aircraft.
Donald has also assisted many non-Canadian clients in respect of M&A transactions with Canadian aviation undertakings and Canadian clients in international aviation M&A transactions.
Donald was the chair of the Firm's Aviation & Aerospace group for more than 12 years and headed its Aircraft Finance practice.
Donald was appointed as an aircraft financing expert to the Canadian delegation to the Unidroit/ICAO sessions, which enacted the Cape Town Convention on international interests in aircraft assets in 2001. In 1999, he was a member of the drafting group in Rome, and in 2001, he was chair of the Insolvency Subgroup in Montréal that prepared the final Cape Town insolvency provisions, including Alternative A.
Donald also served on the Legal Advisory Panel of the Aviation Working Group (AWG), a group of the world's leading aircraft manufacturers and financiers, since the formation of the panel in 2000. He served as chair of the AWG Legal Panel from 2006 to 2008. Donald coordinated the Canadian airline advisory submissions to the Government of Canada in respect of the 2010/11 Aircraft Sector Understanding (ASU) OECD negotiations. He was appointed by AWG as chair of the AWG Canada Contact Group, comprised of leading airline and aviation financing counsel in Canada, to review and report on the Cape Town Convention and other major aircraft financing issues.
Prior to his return to private law practice, Donald served as vice-president and general counsel of an international charter airline, a regional airline connector and an international cargo carrier. He also acted as vice-president, maintenance and engineering of the airline group.
Since 2015, Chambers Global: The World’s Leading Lawyers for Business has ranked Blakes as having a "Band 1" Aviation Finance practice (one of the few firms in the world to have this rating). Donald is also recognized by leading ranking publications, including Chambers Canada: Canada's Leading Lawyers for Business, where he is consistently ranked in their top tier. The publication has noted: "[M]arket commentators report that Donald is 'one of the leading practitioners in aircraft finance'.… Clients appreciate his 'good mixture of expert knowledge and practical approach;'" "Donald Gray is lauded by clients for his 'deep knowledge of aircraft financing and related international treaties… He is a leading expert on the Cape Town Convention. He is very practical, and gives good advice.'"
Donald has been a pilot since he was 16. He is an active aircraft owner and IFR (instrument flight rules) rated pilot and holds Canadian, U.S. and South African pilot certificates. Currently, he is working on transitioning his fixed-wing licences to include rotary-wing operations. His love of flying and aircraft is what led him to practising aviation law.