The families of the victims of the Zodiac crash near Oakdale, California, have filed suit against the aircraft’s maker, Zenith Aircraft, alleging that the Zodiac’s design is defective. The Zodiac is the two-seat aircraft whose wings tend to break off in flight due to a design-induced aerodynamic phenomenon known as flutter. That appears to be exactly what happened in the Oakdale crash. The design has caused at least 10 deaths so far.
According to the Modesto Bee, Zenith Aircraft is blaming the pilot and passenger for getting into the airplane it designed.
Zenith Aircraft said the crash was caused by the "negligence" of [the pilot and his passenger]. The company said both had "full appreciation" of the risks involved.
As discussed here, months ago the NTSB called upon the FAA to ground all Zodiacs. The FAA, however, has yet to do so. Unfortunately, the NTSB has no power to ground an aircraft on its own. It doesn’t matter how bad the design of the aircraft is; only the FAA can ground a fleet.
The FAA refuses to act, and Zenith Aircraft won’t accept responsibility for the fatal flaws in its aircraft’s design. Lawsuits brought by aviation accident lawyers like the families’ lawyers in this case seem to be the only way to prevent others from being killed in the Zodiac.