I am currently developing a few prototypes to decide on a game concept to develop further. One of them is an arcade jet combat game, which is only a viable concept if I could include real world planes. However, I have no idea what order of magnitude licensing costs for something like hat would be. I had guessed they would be beyond my budget, but then I found out about Vector Thrust, which is a game by a one-man studio that includes pretty much every aircraft imaginable. So either licensing costs are much lower than I thought, not required, or the creator of Vector Thrust is ignoring them.
I know there was a bit of a lawsuit back-and-forth between EA and Textron last year over the use of one of their helicopters in BF3 without permission (or licensing fees). EA were arguing that use of these things in an entertainment product is protected under the First Amendment. They eventually settled, however, so not much else is known.
Can anyone shed any light on this?