September 23, 2000 - Lawsuits Name Piper Engine Maker; The class action lawsuit says the bearings in the engines of Piper's Malibu Mirage are defective.
A $75 million, class-action lawsuit has been filed against The New Piper
Aircraft Inc. and aircraft engine manufacturer Textron Inc., alleging the
Textron-Lycoming engines in Piper's Malibu Mirage have defective bearings,
leading to excessive maintenance costs and posing a safety risk.
Piper officials Friday insisted the aircraft is safe and that all known problems
are being addressed.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Fort Pierce Wednesday, was done
on behalf of William Montgomery Jr. of Texas, who bought a Malibu Mirage in
April. However, the suit seeks to include 1,200 former and current Mirage
owners since 1987, said Charles Ames, an attorney for the Dallas law firm of
Fred Misko Jr. P.C.
However, Piper officials noted Friday production of the Malibu Mirage didn't
start until 1989. About 514 Mirages have been produced. With a list price of
about $800,000, the Malibu Mirage is currently the company's most expensive
product, though the new Malibu Meridian will sell for about $1.4 million when it
is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The lawsuit claims that although Piper and Textron Inc. of Williamsport, Pa.,
knew of the problems with the engine's main bearings and rod bearings for
several years, they have made only "half-hearted" attempts to correct the
situation and compensate owners for their extra maintenance costs.
As well, the companies continued to represent that the Mirage would need an
engine overhaul every 2,000 hours when in fact an overhaul was needed between
every 500-700 hours of flight time, Ames and the lawsuit said. This increased
maintenance and operating costs three to four times more than that represented
by the companies.
"Defendant Piper and defendant Textron-Lycoming conspired together in the state
of Florida to conceal and deny the defects and safety of flight issues with the
Malibu Mirage," the lawsuit said.
In a statement released by Piper, the company said, "Textron Lycoming, with New
Piper's participation, has addressed and is currently resolving all known
"New Piper is committed to manufacturing safe and airworthy products and
maintains that the Malibu Mirage is a safe and reliable aircraft," the statement
Margaret Napolitan, a Piper vice president and the chief safety officer, said
the company would have no other comment on the suit at this point.
Montgomery's attorneys conducted research of accident records and did a survey
of current and former Mirage owners and determined of the 111 aircraft on which
they received information, there were 60 in-flight engine failures, 66 premature
engine overhauls, 46 instances of metal in the oil and 32 replaced engines.
"In summary, Malibu Mirage owners have consistently experienced premature
failures that require engine overhaul or replacement at one-third service life
or less," the lawsuit said.
In addition to excessive maintenance costs, Mirage owners have also suffered
increased operating costs, excessive loss of use of aircraft and downtime, costs
of alternative travel, loss of use of hangar time, loss of use of a substantial
investment and loss of resale value of the aircraft, the lawsuit said.
Montgomery's attorneys ran an advertisement in the Sunday, Sept. 17, issue of
the Press Journal "urgently" seeking information concerning defects in the
engine and saying, "Your response can save lives."
In all airplane accident cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of an airplane accident, call now at or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.