The General Aviation Revitalization Act immunizes aircraft manufacturers from liability for defects in their products once those products turn 18 years old.  GARA was enAge of General Aviation Fleetacted in 1994.  Back then, more than half the general aviation fleet was older than 18 years. 

In other words, in 1994, the manufacturers were allowed to "walk away" from the majority of the fleet they had produced, as well as any defects that they had built into them. But once relieved of that financial responsibility, the manufacturers were supposed to spring into action and start cranking out new aircraft at more affordable prices. 

True, anyone injured by a defect in an older aircraft would be left without a legal remedy against the manufacturer that caused the injury.  But GARA proponents argued that the flood of new piston aircraft would lead to the older aircraft being removed from service.  In short order, GARA proponents argued, the average age of the aircraft in the fleet would drop and manufacturers would 


Continue Reading GARA Covers an Increasing Percentage of the General Aviation Fleet

A Philadelphia jury has determined that a defective carburetor caused the 1999 crash of single-engine aircraft that killed four and injured one. The aircraft, a Piper Cherokee Six, was manufactured in 1968. The jury’s verdict included $25 million for compensatory damages and $64Piper Cherokee Six - PA32 million as punitive damages against the engine manufacturer Avco Lycoming, a division of Textron.

Since the Aircraft was Older than 18 Years, Why Didn’t the General Aviation Revitalization Act Protect Lycoming from Liability?

There are a number of exceptions to the General Aviation Revitalization Act (known as GARA). In particular, GARA doesn’t apply when the manufacturer, in obtaining FAA certification of its part, conceals from the FAA information about defects in the part’s design. The jury in this case determined that Lycoming did just that. Thus, GARA was no defense.

The NTSB Determined the Cause of the Crash was Pilot Error. Its Report Didn’t Say Anything About a Defective Carburetor. Why Wasn’t the Jury Bound by the NTSB’s Findings?

The NTSB’s accident reports almost always favor the manufacturers. That’s because the NTSB relies on the manufacturer for help in determining the cause of the crash it is investigating. The NTSB calls this method of investigation the “party system.” 

Of course, asking the manufacturer for help in figuring out if thPrecision Carburetorere was a defect in its engine is much like asking the fox for help in determining what happened to the chickens. There’s a built-in conflict of interest. The NTSB is aware of the conflict, but continues using the party system anyway.

Here, after consulting with Lycoming’s experts, the NTSB decided not even to examine the carburetor. Since the NTSB never tore down this critical component, it’s no surprise that the NTSB did not discover any problems with it.

Fortunately for the victims’ families, the NTSB’s conclusions are by regulation inadmissible in court.

Why Did the Jury Award Punitive Damages?

A jury cannot award punitive damages simply because the defendant was negligent, or just


Continue Reading Defective Carburetor Results in Jury Verdict Against Avco Lycoming

The NTSB has released its preliminary report of the off-airport landing of Lancair IV-P N9JE at Hilton Head.  The accident killed a jogger but left the plane’s two occupants uninjured. According to the preliminary report

Further examination of the airplane revealed that the propeller assembly separated from the crankshaft flange and was missing.

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The victim of an airplane or helicopter accident must act on his rights or lose them forever.  That means the victim must file a lawsuit by the appropriate deadline.  In some cases, the victim must first file a special claim form with the right governmental agency.  If he fails to do so on time, or files it with the wrong agency, he

Mackinac Island, Michigan, located in Lake Huron, is 8.2 miles around. The only way onto the island is by boat or, better yet, general aviation aircraft. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the island.  Everyone gets around by horse-drawn carriage or bicycle.  It was a great venue for the Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association’s 50th Anniversary Meeting on