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Synergy Vehicle
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A Discussion of Product
Liability and Safety

Product liability has been a major factor in the general aviation marketplace in recent years. Manufacturers were forced to carry huge liability policies and the premiums accounted for a major portion of the aircraft price. This made single engine aircraft too expensive for the average pilot and limited the profits of the manufacturers. The result was a virtual cessation of single engine aircraft sales and slowing sales of all general aviation aircraft. Recently, new legislation was enacted that reduced liability concerns for manufacturers. The re-opening of production lines has resulted in tremendous sales growth.

In contrast to the dark days experienced by certified manufacturers, there has been steady growth of the kit aircraft market. By avoiding the liability of delivering a complete aircraft, kit manufacturers have largely escaped the pursuit of frivolous litigation. In fact, no kit manufacturer has ever been found liable as a result of a kit incident. When a certified manufacturer delivers a complete certificated aircraft, they have been indirectly warranting every aspect of the aircraft for the life of the vehicle. A kit manufacturer is not required or assumed to make any such airworthiness claim. The builder is the legally registered manufacturer and the kit producer is merely supplying materials. Regardless of the legal basis, defending civil suits is still expensive. The best answer is to avoid suits altogether.

The best way to avoid liability suits is to make a very safe product. A clean safety record and customer testimonials will help support a conclusion that the plaintiff was to blame for any unfortunate occurrence. But we will go further. All design features will be in conformance with the requirements for certified airplanes. The relatively large wing (compared to other high performance kits) and low landing speed will allow the pilot who forgot to fill-up before flying out over inhospitable terrain to survive the ensuing forced landing. Redundant control schemes will allow for otherwise flight critical failures to be non-critical. The structure is designed not only for maximum flight loads but also includes energy absorption provisions for enhanced crashworthiness. (This will be tested and used for marketing as well) Many other safety features are included to completely eliminate the possibility of accidental wing folding in flight and make the design as idiot-proof as possible.

In the event that someone would choose to sue, it is important to win. The first line of defense against a suit is the above mentioned safety record. Some lawyer may still want to argue that the parts were defective by gross negligence. That's why a comprehensive quality assurance and documentation procedure will be strictly followed. All parts will be manufactured to a controlled, tested and approved specification. Process monitors will be in place to monitor cure times and temperatures and insure compliance. Every part will be inspected and documented. Selected flight critical parts such as wing spars and folding joints will be pre-assembled and load tested prior to leaving the factory. Finally, non-tested composite parts such as wing skins will include three test coupons in the manufacturing process. One coupon from every part will be factory tested to insure proper material properties and stored indefinitely with the test results. The other two coupons will be stored in separate locations as redundant evidence of part quality in the event of future litigation. We will be able to present undeniable proof that all parts are flightworthy and manufacturing negligence is preposterous. The only reasonable conclusion for the jury is that the builder or pilot must have caused the failure.

The web that ties this all together is testing. Before the first customer receives his kit, we will be convinced that design is free from defects or safety hazards. We will have built a complete aircraft following our own directions, with all parts built and tested to production standards. We will have thoroughly flight tested all conditions and even tested the structure to the point of destruction. We will be sure that the public understands our quality commitment. We will leave no doubt that Synergy is built safe.