California Court Approves Lycoming Class Action

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A California judge has approved the class for a class action suit filed by owners of aircraft with Lycoming engines who will be required to replace, at their own cost, the crankshafts, by Feb. 21, 2009, in those engines because they might be flawed. Under Mandatory Service Bulletin 569a (PDF), Lycoming is selling the crankshaft kits at the reduced cost of $2,000 but labor is up to the owner. That's in stark contrast to an earlier crankshaft recall in which the replacement was not only free, but owners were given credit for aircraft rental and other expenses related to the loss of use of their aircraft. Senior Judge Lawrence Karlton approved the class action after the original plaintiff, Richard Bristow, found a couple of other owners who met the "typicality" standards of a class action. Bristow's Mooney is owned by his corporation and the judge wanted personally owned aircraft to be represented. Ronald Brown and Dana Pope, whose own names are on the registrations, stepped forward and now anyone in California with an affected crank is covered by the suit if they want to be. Bristow's attorney, Robert Mills, says he's hoping the California decision will influence a Pennsylvania court to allow a nationwide class action that was filed there. Lycoming's offices were closed at this writing and we'll be contacting them for comment Wednesday.

Mills said he filed the suits separately because California has liberal class action laws. At the same, time, however, about 12 percent of the cranks affected are in California. He said the California suit is also important because it captures both corporate and privately owned aircraft. Mills said he's pleased by the decision and hopes it will help affected owners. "The certification of a class action is a big step forward in the quest by affected aircraft owners to hold the manufacturer accountable for the damages incurred." he said.