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Raytol

Aeronautical Engineer required part time

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fly_tornado

there's no actual legal precedent against a designer is there? its always the party the customer has contact with, the manufacturer.

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Geoff_H

Let's say that a wing became disconnected owing to a calculation error. The lawyers will go after the designer, the manufacturer and the sales organisations. Well only the ones with money.

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fly_tornado

not in with an experimental aircraft, its the owner that certifies the airworthiness

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Raytol

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.

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djpacro

CASA orders are really irrelevant for this discussion, suggest that you read The law in Australia relating to negligence of aircrew and engineers (Book, 1990) [WorldCat.org]

Tony Pyne was an aviation lawyer and a CASA (or its predecessor) board member.

Whether paid or not, an engineer easily gets in the frame for giving advice.

 

DJP

(former USA FAA DER)

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Raytol

Thanks DJP.

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.

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Geoff_H

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.

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graham brown

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.

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djpacro

product liability law is not the issue that we are discussing wrt an engineer's professional indemnity insurance

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David Isaac
product liability law is not the issue that we are discussing wrt an engineer's professional indemnity insurance

 

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.

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graham brown

The requirement for indemnity insurance in this instance where you fly at your own risk and cannot get access to the calculations is not right. How can you make a judgement?

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David Isaac
The requirement for indemnity insurance in this instance where you fly at your own risk and cannot get access to the calculations is not right. How can you make a judgement?

Even if you had access to the calcs and they would be accessible, the average PIC wouldn't know what he is looking at.

 

You fly at your own risk, relying on the certification of the aircraft. If its a home built you would need to figure out how you would establish confidence in the design.

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rgmwa

`

not in with an experimental aircraft, its the owner that certifies the airworthiness

 

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. "

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gareth lacey

and it was settled ,vans were found not to be at fault, litigation gone mad

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rgmwa
and it was settled ,vans were found not to be at fault, litigation gone mad

 

Agreed, but it probably still cost them a lot of money to mount a legal defence, plus the cost of management time to sort out the mess.

rgmwa

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fly_tornado

They would have insurance to cover litigation costs

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Geoff_H

In fact I would be pleased to do whatever I could to assist in the development of an Australian product of any form, but any aircraft in particular. I would not want to be paid, I am comfortable enough. Can anyone suggest a possible way. A friend told me to make two companies to restrict liability, I don't know if this works. I would also like to give away my aircraft design that I am building, it's goal is to be in the air for around $10k, on target at present. Any lawyers among us?

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apm
In fact I would be pleased to do whatever I could to assist in the development of an Australian product of any form, but any aircraft in particular. I would not want to be paid, I am comfortable enough. Can anyone suggest a possible way. A friend told me to make two companies to restrict liability, I don't know if this works. I would also like to give away my aircraft design that I am building, it's goal is to be in the air for around $10k, on target at present. Any lawyers among us?

Geoff, this is how my business is setup, you pay more to your accountant but save in less or none to insurance, A Company is limited liability to its assets so keep it low, & make sure all correspondence is on your company letterhead. talk to your accountant before getting advice from your lawyer.

Andrew

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Geoff_H

I actually have a company. Used it for over 20 years. Wife is also a director, my account tells me that that makes our home open to loss from litigation. I don't really know but it is reported to be owing to how directors are personally liable.

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Nobody

A couple of point that are possibly relevant to the discussion.

 

1. The original post mentions that the plan was to seek LSA status. That would mean that the aircraft could be factory built. This would open up the designer to much more liability than if the aircraft were just available in a kit/experimental form.

2. One way to deal with the liability is for the engineer to be "employed" by Raytol's company rather than contracting to it via the engineers company. Raytols company would need insurance to cover the design and manufacture of aircraft instead of just the manufacture component.

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bexrbetter
I would also like to give away my aircraft design that I am building, it's goal is to be in the air for around $10k, on target at present. Any lawyers among us?

 

Yes, yes and yes.

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Raytol

The law is very reticent to "lift the company veil" in Australia as the Pollies and Lawyers are themselves protected by it!

It can only be done if the actions are fraudulent or grossly negligent.

Insurance companies love the "what if" situation and I would like to know if any designer/ engineer has ever been subject to

litigation in Australia and found against.

Other Australian aircraft manufacturers are still going strong even after all their problems, how?

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MikeBravoYanky

I am a semi/retired aero engineer with my own business and project (originally with a modified (Exprimental) civil registered gyroplane) involved in a taxi test accident in 2010. 18 months after the accident I was charged with reckless operation of an aircraft "endangering myself"..! I beat that charge in the magistrates court but it was only at the third court cases that a judge finally agreed the pilot of an experimental aircraft cannot be charged with reckless operation endangering himself.? The case is still not over with final hearing in Federal Court 18 May fighting the notice of cancellation of my PPL. As far as I can see once these things get into the hands of lawyers.. truth, justice, logic and even language all take a distant back seat.

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David Isaac
I am a semi/retired aero engineer with my own business and project (originally with a modified (Exprimental) civil registered gyroplane) involved in a taxi test accident in 2010. 18 months after the accident I was charged with reckless operation of an aircraft "endangering myself"..! I beat that charge in the magistrates court but it was only at the third court cases that a judge finally agreed the pilot of an experimental aircraft cannot be charged with reckless operation endangering himself.? The case is still not over with final hearing in Federal Court 18 May fighting the notice of cancellation of my PPL. As far as I can see once these things get into the hands of lawyers.. truth, justice, logic and even language all take a distant back seat.

That's rough.

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facthunter

You are not being judged by people knowing in the "Ways" of the tribe. Testing means there's a need and a risk that the object being tested is not going to pass the test.. I've done a few test flights many having unusual things happen. Could I be charged with flying a plane that was unsafe, because it needed to be tested? Catch 22.. You knew it might be unsafe but still flew it.. Normally planes being tested carry minimum passengers/crew observers. That's prudent. You only had yourself. It can't be operated with less than one. Nev

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