Before people were mentioning that the design of various aircraft was too heavy. The problem is that often the design of the wings looks only at the main spar. In reality often the wing skin adds to the strength and the main spar can be reduced in size and weight. To design a spar takes minutes using my program, but to add in the added strength of the skin requires a finite element analysis. This is slow and expensive. Most people opt for the simple design, and add some weight. I am doing this with my design.
but you have to pretty certain that the designer was at fault to embark on a legal case, you'd also need to find a group of suitably qualified engineers that would be prepared to prove the designing engineer is at fault.
In the past CASA (NTSB?) Have done the engineering to determine the cause of failure, especially when a death is involved. The lawyers just have to prosecute, engineering investigation is free! Yes it is worst case, but it can happy. I would love to assist, its my professional career and my hobby, but the risk is s problem for me.
Thanks Geoff, I think the airliner in your box may be a bit overpowered!
In my case, the aircraft structure has already been designed and tested by an AE to BCAR secion E. Unfortunately the AE is deceased
and is no longer available for consultation. There are 50 odd flying.
I believe that the CASA orders are written to make the PILOT the one solely responsible for the safe flight of aircraft in this category.
This is not 1990! That was in the "bad old days" when designers and manufacturers in the USA were being sued mercilessly in a
one sided contest. They stopped frivolous litigation by suing the plaintiffs so they had something to lose as well.
NSW has a "dangerous pastimes" act that helped pony clubs, BMX and motocross clubs, etc negate their risk of litigation.
Hands up anyone who knows of any designer, engineer or aircraft manufacturer who has been sued under Product Liability laws
in the 19 category.
I hope that you guys are right. My legal advice a few years ago does not agree. I think that a serious loss owing to a failure of some items is different to product liability or dangerous pastimes. Maybe a 19 series aircraft has never been in a litigation, but crash into a shopping centre and set it alight then I would expect that the shopping centre owner, or his insurance company, is not going to accept a sorry as compensation.
There is a placard on 19 registered aircraft that says it hasn't be built to standards so you fly in it at your own risk. This is fine but to deny an engineer to tell you what he/she has calculated, which is what the litigation does, is wrong.
Professional Indemnity Insurance (PI) NOT PL, is a potential can of worms from a liability perspective.
The bigger problem as both Geoff and DJP have alluded is that if a claimant or claimant's lawyer gets wind the designer may be at fault and the designer has assets, they will go the designer or the one with money before any liability is even established. It is not the 'at fault' liability that is the immediate problem. The immediate problem is the cost to run a defense. You need a lot of cash to run a defense if you are NOT insured.
If you are insured, your costs may be covered, but you have no control over the outcome. Your insurer steps in and will make whatever deal they see fit on financial grounds to settle, sometimes even if the complaint is defensible, so your reputation is at risk and you have no say in the settlement. Once they insure you, they own the whole process; so even if your design is OK, once litigation is commenced it is a potential nightmare.
PI insurance covers you on a 'claims made' basis. What that means is the year of the alleged design flaw is not so relevant (obviously you need to have been insured at that time), but you are not covered if your insurance is not current in the year the claim is made. You get in a situation where you have to maintain permanent PI insurance and usually with the same insurer. When approaching retirement you usually do a deal on a diminishing premium basis, but it must be continued past your retirement.
Maybe, but Van's were sued for $35 million recently when an RV-10 crashed after the engine stopped due to a fuel blockage caused by the owner/builder using silicone RTV to seal the fuel lines (despite warnings).to a transducer he had recently installed. The RTV blocked the transducer and starved the engine. The transducer manufacturer was also sued. The argument against Vans as I understand it, was that they were at fault for `recklessly' selling a kit that an average person couldn't be expected to build safely. Not a design issue, I know, but an example of what can happen.
The NTSB investigated the accident and concluded that the probable cause of the accident was:
" A total loss of engine power due to fuel starvation because of a blocked fuel line that resulted from the pilot’s improper maintenance practices and the pilot’s subsequent failure to maintain adequate airspeed while attempting a forced landing, which led to the airplane exceeding its critical angle-of-attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall. "