Aircraft Crash – Manufacturer Liability

A federal statute of repose (The General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994 (GARA), Pub.L. No. 103-298, 108 Stat. 1552, 49 U.S.C. § 40101 note) bars claims arising from accidents involving light aircraft brought against "the manufacturer of any new component . . . or other part of the aircraft, in its capacity as a manufacturer" (Pub.L. No. 103-298, § 2(a), 108 Stat. 1552) more than 18 years after the product is first sold.

In Alexander v. Beech Aircraft Corp., supra, 952 F.2d 1215, the court considered whether the plaintiff had raised a factual question as to whether the manufacturer's negligent attempts to correct deficiencies in the aircraft postsale were "distinct and separate actions from the original design and manufacture of the aircraft so as to avoid the bar of the state statute of repose." (Id. at p. 1226).

The court rejected this theory of liability, finding that "any alleged negligence by the manufacturer of this sort should be considered as a claim of a failure to warn and this theory does not remove such claims by the plaintiffs from the bar of the state of repose." (Ibid.) (See also Dague v. Piper Aircraft Corp., supra, 418 N.E.2d 207, 212

"Irrespective of the defendant's continuing duty to warn of any latent defects of which it had knowledge, and its alleged continuing breach of that duty, plaintiff's cause of action for such negligence did not accrue until her decedent was harmed.