I am pleased to sign into law S. 1458, the "General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994." It is before me today as a result of bipartisan support in the Congress, and the hard work of many who have labored long to achieve passage of such legislation. The result is legislation that accommodates the need to revitalize our general aviation industry, while preserving the legal rights of passengers and pilots. This limited measure is intended to give manufacturers of general aviation aircraft and related component parts some protection from lawsuits alleging defective design or manufacture after an aircraft has established a lengthy record of operational safety.
In 1978, U.S. general aviation manufacturers produced 18,000 of these aircraft for domestic use and for export around the world. Our manufacturers were the world leaders in the production of general aviation aircraft. By 1993, production had dwindled to only 555 aircraft. As a result, in the last decade over 100,000 wellpaying jobs were lost in general aviation manufacturing. An innovative and productive American industry has been pushed to the edge of extinction. This Act will allow manufacturers to supply new basic aircraft for flight training, business use, and recreational flying.
The Act establishes an 18-year statute of repose for general aviation aircraft and component parts beyond which the manufacturer will not be liable in lawsuits alleging defective manufacture or design. It is limited to aircraft having a seating capacity of fewer than 20 passengers, which are not engaged in scheduled passengercarrying operations.
In its report to me and to the Congress last August, the National Commission to Ensure a Strong Competitive Airline Industry recommended the enactment of a statute of repose for general aviation aircraft. The report indicated that the enactment of such legislation would "help regenerate a once-healthy industry and help create thousands of jobs." I agree with this assessment; this is a job-creating and jobrestoring measure that will bring good jobs and economic growth back to this industry. It will also help U.S. companies restore our Nation to the status of the premier supplier of general aviation aircraft to the world, favorably affecting our balance of trade. Therefore, as I sign into law the "General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994," I am pleased to acknowledge the bipartisan work done by the Congress and by all the supporters of the general aviation industry.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
The White House, August 17, 1994.