Imagine that you are looking to purchase a new automobile. You finally find the vehicle that meets all your requirements. As you are signing all the paperwork involved with that purchase, you discover there is a clause in the contract that states you are waiving your right to sue the car manufacturer if you are in an accident. Most people would probably tear up that contract and walk right out of that dealership. Yet that is exactly what ICON Aircraft is requiring customers to sign in order to purchase their A5 model.
The A5 is an amphibious light sports aircraft which was first unveiled to customers in 2008. Although customers began putting deposits on the aircraft shortly after that unveiling, eight years later they are still waiting for delivery. And the original price has jumped from $139,000 in 2008 to $207,000. Several months ago, many who put deposits down received a purchase agreement from the company which basically waived ICON of any responsibility for any plane accidents which may occur with the A5.
The contract went so far as to say that even if the aviation accident was caused by a design defect in the plane, that the owner and pilot “knowingly assume” these risks on their behalf, as well as on the behalf of their “successors.” With this contract, ICON was basically telling owners that even if the plane crashes from a design defect that isn’t known or public yet, the owner is still responsible since the owner should have known there is always a chance of a defect or design flaw in what they are purchasing.
Needless to say, this absurd clause caused an outrage among potential buyers of the A5. So, the company tweaked the contract, still trying to absolve themselves of any liability for any plane crashes which may occur.
The new clause states that ICON cannot be held responsible for any aviation accident the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) rules is not their fault. Although that may seem reasonable, the NTSB’s investigation procedure for plane crashes can be flawed. For example, while investigating a plane crash, the agency actually invites the plane’s manufacturer to assist in that investigation. This is referred to as the “party system.” Given this is how plane crash investigations are conducted, it is no surprise that in the majority of these investigations, the plane crash is blamed on pilot error.
For further information about the risks associated with airplanes and what to do if you are involved in a plane crash, our Virginia aviation attorneys offer this free airplane accident safety guide.