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Aviation and Space Law Newsletter - Winter 2021

The Reach of the Government ContractorDefense: Does It Extend Beyond MilitaryProducts? by Michael Scoville and Michael Angiulo - Imagine the following scenario: the FBI launches a program to develop a new surveillance drone for chasing bank robbers—The Offender Remote TrackingSystem (TORTS). Several contractors compete, working closely with the government on the detailed design of this high-tech aircraft. Ultimately the government picks the winning design, and the FBI begins operating TORTS in neighborhoods across the country. But then, during a high-speed chase of a serial bank robber, a TORTSdrone crashes in the middle of a busy intersection, causing serious injuries. The ensuing accident investigation points to a defect in the design of the rotor head, and the victims sue the civilian manufacturer. In the resulting litigation, a key question emerges: Can the manufacturer rely on the Government Contractor Defense (GCD)?

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