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Understanding liability for an EAB aircraft crash

For many people, the term “experimental/amateur-built (EAB) aircraft” understandably strikes fear. They can’t imagine flying in one, no matter how experienced the pilot may be. 

A person can’t just build their own plane and go off into the sky. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has to certify the plane. These planes (sometimes also known as “home-built” or “kit-built” planes) are the fastest-growing type of aircraft.  They also have a higher accident rate than other types of planes.

Most crashes occur early in the testing phase

Most of these crashes, however, occur in the first ten hours of the flight-testing phase, which can last up to 40 hours of flight time. That’s why some people who build their own planes are wise to hire professional pilots to test the aircraft if they aren’t themselves experienced in piloting them.

The nature of liability depends on the cause(s) of the crash

Those who build, own and fly EAB aircraft are required to have liability insurance that covers injury and property damage. If this is all one and the same person, and a crash occurs while they’re flying the plane, they typically have liability, whether the problem was pilot error or an issue with the way the plane was built.

Sometimes, however, a cash may be caused by a defective or malfunctioning part. If that’s the case, the company that made that part could be held liable. It may be possible to hold the seller liable in some instances as well.

If you’ve suffered injuries or a loved one has been killed in an EAB plane crash, it’s crucial to determine what went wrong and who was responsible. That’s why it’s wise to have sound legal guidance.