Reality Check

PLANEMAKERS SAY that curbing legal bills will revive the small-plane business, which has taken a nosedive of late. In 1979, manufacturers made 17,032 small planes; by last year, production had plummeted to 964. Planemakers put most of the blame on product-liability suits. The legal burden is the chief reason Piper says it is in Chapter 11. As a result, Congress is poised to exclude from suits piston planes older than 15 years, turboprops over 18, and jets over 22.

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