Congressional protection proposed for parts OEMs

 - January 3, 2008, 4:22 AM

Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) has announced that he and Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) are working on legislation to provide general aviation parts manufacturers with common-sense protections against lawsuits. “These lawsuits are driving up insurance costs and forcing some manufacturers to stop production on parts certified by the FAA,” Ehlers said. 

Ehlers’ announcement comes a month after Precision Airmotive, a general aviation parts supplier based in Washington, shut down production of its float carburetor because the cost of insurance exceeded total sales revenue. The company had manufactured carburetors since the 1930s, but despite what it describes as an excellent safety and sales record, it could no longer afford liability insurance to defend its product in lawsuits.

“The risk of frivolous lawsuits is making it nearly impossible for many aviation-parts manufacturers to stay in business,” said Ehlers. “We must tighten up current law to protect these manufacturers from damaging lawsuits while still providing safeguards to consumers.

A common-sense reform will do both without driving manufacturers out of
business, just as the original protections in the 1994 law restored growth in the airplane manufacturers industry,” he concluded. Ehlers noted that numerous manufacturers have cited rising costs related to litigation as a major impediment to their future operations.