[TowerTalk] Action against US Tower?

Bill Coleman aa4lr at arrl.net
Fri Jun 9 22:17:30 EDT 2006

On Jun 6, 2006, at 4:13 PM, Van K7VS wrote:

> In the mid-seventies Cessna, Piper and others simply stopped  
> manufacturing
> small planes for private use until they finally lobbied the  
> government and
> stopped all the foolish law suits and their liability because of  
> the problem
> associated with primarily Pilot error.

Uh, this is not correct on many levels.

First of all, although Cessna ceased production of piston-powered  
aircraft in 1986, Piper aircraft continued to produce them. Or, at  
least they tried. Many other small aircraft manufacturers also tried.  
However, it was a difficult business proposition.

The key issue was the continuing liability trailer for all the  
aircraft ever manufactured. Aircraft are not like automobiles -- they  
see continuing maintenance and will last for decades. Manufacturers  
needed to insure themselves every one of these existing aircraft.

The liability is formidable partly because of the concept of joint  
and severable liability. Attourneys would argue that the manufacturer  
had some negligence because they allowed something stupid to happen.  
So, if the juries were convinced that the Manufacturer had even 1%  
liability, they'd end up paying for it all, since their pockets were  

The Aviation Revitalization Act of 1996 fixed this by limiting the  
Manufacturer's liability for an aircraft (or any part) to 18 years.  
Overnight, Piper aircraft, which had been in and out of bankruptcy  
for years, suddenly became a going concern - investors immediately  
came forward to bail them out.

Cessna aircraft immediately started to build a new plant. They have  
been producing piston-powered single engine aircraft since 1997.

Frankly, the way that the Manufacturer's liability works has been  
broken in this country for years. We've all been paying again and  
again for people who have been lucky enough to prove culpability  
where there probably is none. We've made it an environment where  
manufacturers hesitate to improve the safety of their products for  
fear such improvements will be seen as an admission that their  
previous products were defective.

The Aviation Revitalization Act of 1996 was a good move, for both  
manufacturers and consumers.

Bill Coleman, AA4LR, PP-ASEL        Mail: aa4lr at arrl.net
Quote: "Not within a thousand years will man ever fly!"
             -- Wilbur Wright, 1901

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