Protecting Yourself from the Effects of GARA as an Arizona A&P Mechanic

The Phoenix area is a hotbed of flight training activity, so it also plays host to a large number of training aircraft. If you take a walk down the tie-down line at any of our area airports you will see dozens of training aircraft, many of which were built in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Because of low operating costs, reliable and patient performance, and overall simplicity, these aircraft are both flight school and first-time owner favorites, and they remain popular with aviation fanatics throughout the world.

In 1994, an amendment to the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 called the General Aviation Revitalization Act (GARA) was drafted to help protect the manufacturers of these aircraft (along with the parts and components manufacturers) from civil action following an accident involving a plane or parts made over 18 years ago.

Are You an Arizona A&P Mechanic That Works on GA Aircraft? Keep Reading!

Aircraft mechanics are always under a microscope, whether from the Federal Aviation Administration or aircraft owners themselves. As a general aviation mechanic, you are probably all too familiar with the visits you get from the local FSDO’s maintenance inspectors. Since you do your work “by the books,” however, you usually do not worry much.

With GARA’s presence, however, the pressure on mechanics in the wake of an aircraft accident is even greater. Litigation against mechanics that have worked on GA aircraft involved in crashes is increasing in frequency, despite a majority of these crashes being caused by pilot error. Suddenly, legal things like putting off a service bulletin or letting an owner continue flying an engine in good condition beyond its TBO becomes a very risky undertaking, even if the owner insists.

Even when you have crossed and dotted every proverbial T and I, if you are ever accused of negligence in an accident or incident your liability does not need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, only on the "preponderance of the evidence." This is an incredibly uncomfortable position to be placed in as a business owner and A&P/IA, and to combat the risks, many mechanics have erred on the side of caution and been very conservative when deciding how to proceed with repairs and inspections.

Have You Been Wrongly Accused of Negligence?

At the center of many cases against A&P GA mechanics, there are maintenance decisions made at the request of the owner that are completely safe and legal, but could leave the mechanic in a tight spot if something goes wrong. Despite the owner having the ultimate authority to run an engine over time or ignore a service bulletin, if the aircraft in question is in an accident (even a pilot error-caused accident) maintenance records could point back to you.

If you are being wrongly accused of negligence connected to an accident, you need an experienced and aggressive aviation attorney to defend you. At Curry, Pearson & Wooten, you will find Phoenix aviation attorneys that will work hard to keep your certificate and business safe. Speak with a lawyer about your case today—call us at 602-258-1000 for a free consultation.