Vans Aircraft Lawsuit Dismissed


A $35 million lawsuit filed against Van’s Aircraft, characterized by Van’s as an attack on the kitplane industry as a whole, was settled by the parties late last year. In a press release issued Wednesday, Van’s said the case was dismissed, which is accurate, though it omitted the reason for the dismissal. Van’s Aircraft told AVweb they were unable to comment on the matter.

The lead plaintiff was a passenger in a Van’s RV-10 kitplane who was severely injured when that aircraft crashed after departure from Toledo State Airport, Oregon, in 2014. The plaintiff’s four-year-old daughter was also killed in the crash. The NTSB found the accident was caused by a bead of silicone sealant that had clogged the inlet to the fuel flow transducer, thereby cutting off fuel to the engine. The owner/builder had installed the fuel flow transducer two to three weeks before the accident and used silicone sealant on the fuel lines upstream of the transducer. According to the NTSB report, an FAA certified mechanic and friend of the owner/builder had observed the heavy use of silicone sealant inside the engine cowling and told the owner/builder that this was an improper practice approximately a year before the accident.

The lawsuit acknowledged that the crash was a result of improper construction, but alleged that Van’s Aircraft kit instructions were negligent in their failure to provide sufficient detail to permit the aircraft to be built by “ordinary consumers.” The relevant Van’s Aircraft build manual instructed builders, “When installing fluid fittings with pipe threads do not use Teflon tape. Use instead, fuel lube or equivalent pipe thread sealing paste.”

Photo Credit: FlugKerl2 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0