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Who is liable when a homebuilt aircraft crashes?

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2023 | Aviation Accidents

Homebuilt planes are the fastest-growing type of airplanes. They’re commonly known as experimental/amateur-built (EAB) planes. They aren’t just made from spare parts. Many aspects of them are the same as factory-built aircraft. Further, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must certify them.

While many of these planes take off, fly and land safely every day, there is, of course, the potential for a serious mistake in their construction. They have a higher crash rate than other types of planes, although it’s impossible to know exactly how many accidents involve EAB planes because the FAA only keeps records of fatal crashes.

The initial hours are often the most dangerous

The greatest dangers of flying an EAB plane are in its initial hours of flight. Some 13% of crashes occur during the testing phase (which can be up to 40 flight hours). Most happen in the first 10 flight hours. Many people hire professional pilots to take the aircraft through this testing phase since they are typically better at dealing with a malfunction or other emergency.

Determining what went wrong is key to holding the right party liable

When an EAB plane crashes, there are a number of potential sources of compensation. EAB aircraft owners are required to have insurance. If the crash is caused by pilot error, they can be held liable. If it was caused by a defective part, the manufacturer of the “kit” could be held liable. If the crash was caused by a malfunction, whoever built it could be at fault. Not everyone builds their own EAB aircraft. They may hire someone to do it.

Determining who needs to be held responsible if you or a loved one has suffered injuries or been killed in an EAB plane crash can be complicated. The various parties will likely try to shift blame to others. Having experienced legal guidance can help you seek justice and compensation.