Manufacturers' Immunity from Product Defect Suits under GARA

The General Aviation Revitalization Act, known as “GARA,” immunizes general aviation manufacturers from lawsuits for defectively designed or manufactured aircraft that are more than 18 years old. Regardless of how serious the defect, if the aircraft is more than 18 years old, an injured victim cannot sue its manufacturer.

There are exceptions.  An injured party can sue the manufacturer regardless of the defective aircraft's age if:

  • The aircraft, when first certified, seated 20 or more passengers;
  • The aircraft is engaged in “scheduled” passenger operations;
  • The victim was a passenger (not a crew member) in an air ambulance;
  • The manufacturer misrepresented important information about the aircraft’s safety to the FAA during the aircraft certification process;
  • The accident occurred as a result of a part that was replaced on the aircraft less than 18 years before the accident; or
  • The victim was not an occupant of the aircraft.
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