Legislation to provide general aviation airplane parts manufacturers with “common sense protections against frivolous lawsuits” was introduced Dec. 7 by Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-Mich.) and Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.).
“These lawsuits are driving up insurance costs and, in some cases, forcing manufacturers to stop production of parts certified by the Federal Aviation Administration,” Ehlers said.
The proposed legislation came a month after Precision Airmotive shut down production of its float carburetor line because, it said, the cost of insurance exceeded total sales revenue. The carburetor has been manufactured since the 1930s but, despite an excellent safety and sales record, Precision no longer could sustain the cost of defending its product from lawsuits, company officers stated.
Since then, Precision’s carburetor business has been bought by Aero Accessories, to be manufactured under the Tempest brand name. That acquisition and the move of the production line to the company’s manufacturing plant in Gibsonville, N.C., should be completed by Jan. 31, according to Tim Henderson, president of Aero Accessories.
Commenting on the Ehlers-Tiahrt bill, which is reminiscent of similar protection given to legacy airframe manufacturers by Congress, General Aviation Manufacturers Association President Pete Bunce stated that “Frivolous lawsuits are making it difficult and sometimes impossible for parts manufacturers to stay in business. It is unacceptable for American manufacturers that produce safe equipment to be shutting down production and laying off workers because of frivolous lawsuits costing millions of dollars in legal fees and increased insurance rates.”Bunce said that the new legislation is “desperately needed to restore some balance and fairness in our legal system.”
Details of the agreement between Tempest and Precision were not known as this issue was going to press, but Henderson did say that his company’s strategy is to continue producing the Precision carburetors and parts as before, and to integrate that product line into Tempest engineering, research and development programs.
Although the legislation introduced by Representatives Ehlers and Tiahrt goes well beyond protection of just one company’s products and, indeed, extends to all GA parts manufacturers, the Congressmen agreed that Precision’s case triggered their action.
For more information: AeroAccessories.com, GAMA.aero