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Federal court decision shuts down FAA 'trade-secret' claim

February 3, 2011, 04:47 pm

The Federal Aviation Administration's claim that aviators rebuilding antique planes should not have access to the original plans has been denied by a federal district court judge, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

The organization had universally barred access to old plane certificates for both antique plane owners and restorers, arguing that permitting access would potentially expose trade secrets. However, on January 19, a federal judge ruled that not providing access was a violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

The importance of these papers are not just for design accuracy, but also play a part in the safety of the reconstructions. Brent Taylor, executive director of the Antique Airplane Association says the denial interfered with one of his members' attempts to restore a very damaged F-45. "He wanted to build a tail, to the type certificate, so the airplane can be licensable and safe," Taylor told the AOPA.

Safety is always of the utmost importance and, although access to the plans might help aviation enthusiasts craft safer restorations, it will not free them of all the potential hazards they may encounter while flying. Fatal crashes are a constant threat and life insurance for pilots is an essential for aviators to provide for their families after their passing.  

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