Cunningham Swaim, LLP
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Dallas: 214-646-1495 | Pasadena: 626-765-3000 | DENVER: 303-309-8167 | Pagosa Springs: 970-749-0807

Dallas:
7557 Rambler Rd.
Suite 400
Dallas, TX 75231

214-646-1495
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Pasadena:
2 N. Lake Avenue
Suite 500
Pasadena, CA 91101

626-765-3000
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Pagosa Springs:
262 Pagosa Street
Suite 103
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147

970-749-0807
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Denver:
1801 Broadway
Suite 1400
Denver, CO 80202

303-309-8167
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Houston Office:
Two Greenway Plaza
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Houston, TX 77046

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Federal law sets a time limit for filing lawsuits against aircraft manufacturers for defective planes. A manufacturer is free from liability after 18 years, with some restrictions, for property damage, personal injuries and deaths caused by problems with their product.

Reasons why the U.S. enacted GARA 

In the years leading up to the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994 (GARA), a number of the original aircraft makers were in deep decline. As they saw it, a major problem was the risk of lawsuits over planes that left the assembly lines decades earlier.

Still-competitive brands like Boeing, Dassault, Pilatus and Gulfstream made their first planes in 1916, 1929, 1939 and 1958, respectively. The more venerable the company, the more vulnerable it was to litigation. The potential loss of business and technical expertise got legislators’ attention.

General Aviation (GA) seemed especially singled out. GA includes almost all aviation aside from familiar commercial airline travel, notably corporate and private jets as well as tourism flights and recreation and sports flying.

What GARA does and does not do

To apply mainly to GA, GARA applies only to aircraft with “…a maximum seating capacity of fewer than 20 passengers, and which was not, at the time of the accident, engaged in scheduled passenger-carrying operations.”

The 18-year window is not a blanket immunity. For example, each replacement part has its own 18-year clock, so few planes are wholly in the clear.

GARA’s immunity also does not apply, for example, if the manufacturer lies to the FAA about the cause of the accident, nor to people not in the plane or airlifted for emergencies.

Legal debates over the 1994 law continue

Like most Federal laws, GARA can raise a broad field of questions.

For example, an article in Business Jet Traveler expressed concern over what some call “liability diffusion,” in which legal pressure moves from aircraft manufacturers to flight instructors and charter pilots, part manufacturers and others not exempted by GARA.

Business Jet Traveler suggests cautious legal review when selling or buying aircraft, pointing to possibilities that liability may follow the aircraft from one buyer to another.

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Dallas Office
7557 Rambler Road, Suite 400
Dallas, TX 75231

Phone: 214-646-1495
Dallas Law Office Map

Pasadena Office
2 N. Lake Avenue
Ste 550
Pasadena, CA 91101

Phone: 626-765-3000
Pasadena Law Office Map

Pagosa Springs Office
262 Pagosa Street
Suite 103
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147

Phone: 970-749-0807
Pagosa Springs Law Office Map

Denver Office
1801 Broadway
Suite 1400
Denver, CO 80202

Phone: 303-309-8167
Denver Law Office Map

Houston Office
Two Greenway Plaza
SUITE 650
Houston, TX 77046

Map & Directions

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