You are really for entering into the home-built scene, aren’t you?
But, regarding your question, what exactly should be true or not true or somewhere in between?
Thank you for posting this link. So at least there is one area where aviation is not so much better in the States than in Europe I was starting to grow an inferiority complex already.
In Germany nobody has scapped his aircraft yet for fear of lawsuits. But I remember that in Italy some airplanes got publicly burnt. Not for fear of liability claims, but for fear of attracting luxury tax instead. Italian taxation law has changed since then.
Proof that there are paranoid people everywhere, and there certainly are… or perhaps that the owner knew his plane was flawed. Each FAA registered homebuilt is a one off, an experiment, and it is perfectly legal for somebody to build, own and fly an aircraft that he wouldn’t trust anybody else to fly. That’s the whole point of the FAA Experimental category.
You do hear rumors and occasionally something more solid about people scrapping their homebuilts (versus selling) as a result of being the legal manufacturer, but I’ve never met anybody who had a legal problem, ever. I think the more bizarre and undeveloped homebuilts often end up sold cheap to a dreamer and then unflown. My dad built and sold one like that in the 80’s and it’s still registered. I checked the address with Google Street View and it’s a mobile home on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere
As a lawyer if there is a risk, and they will say yes to everything. There is always a risk.
I suppose one way to protect yourself is to have a company build the aircraft, with you being the employee. Later then the company sells the aircraft, and it’s liability is limited. After the sale, the company can be liquidated.
I think there are specific laws on this around Europe – as with used cars, houses, etc. In the UK, in these cases, it is sold “as seen” i.e. no liability unless specific warranties are given e.g. “air conditioning works” but actually it doesn’t. Maybe planes are different?
What is true is that people do all kinds of strange things to be sure they are free of potential liability (real or imaginary). It doesn’t need to be liability either. It can be the thought of someone else dying because of some error you did when building it, is not bearable, or some other odd reason. When you have built it yourself, you can do whatever you want with it IMO.
There is always a risk something bad will happen, and that someone will blame you. It’s just that the risk is practically zero in most cases.
Part of the problem here, is the willingness to sue everyone. Name as many people as you can. The builder, the designer, the mechanic who last worked on it, the inspector who issued its CofA/permit to fly (do experimentals get those in the US?) the EAA, the engine manufacturer, the last pilot to fly it. For good measure, throw in the Pope for not blessing the aircraft.
One of them might agree to settle, or their insurers. They might not have a case to answer, but something (to cover the lawyers fees) might be worth settling for to get rid of years of worry.
@dublinpilot, FAA homebuilts get a certificate of airworthiness before their first flight in the Experimental Amateur Built category. In order to qualify they must be built by an individual who does the work for his education and recreation, and that individual is listed as the manufacturer in FAA data, regardless of whether he or somebody else was the primary designer of the plane. I don’t think the ‘company with builder as employee’ idea would qualify, although custom built Experimental Exhibition category aircraft (a less desirable category) can be built in that basis.
throw in the Pope for not blessing the aircraft
Better yet, for the blessing not working when it was needed most ;) I guess one sues those with money…