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CONGRESS APPROVES BAN ON SOME AIRCRAFT SUITS

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A bill to help aircraft manufacturers finally flew out of Congress last week after being pushed for years by Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, and others.

The final, compromise version worked out by House and Senate negotiators bans suing makers of general aviation aircraft (with fewer than 20 seats) for problems relating to crashes after they are 18 years old.Hansen had pushed a "discharge petition" this year to force the bill to the House floor. As it neared success, the House Judiciary Committee - which had bottled up the bill - finally passed it with amendments.

Hansen had said that constant suits against manufacturers, even 30 or 40 years after they had lost control over maintenance of aircraft they built, had forced many out of business.

The number of general aviation aircraft made in America dropped from 17,000 in 1974 to 954 in 1993, which bill supporters said had cost 20,000 manufacturing jobs.