T-34 Owners Ask FAA To Relax Inspection Deadline

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The T-34 Association has asked the FAA to allow at least a year for any inspection program it might mandate to check the structural integrity of wing spars in the T-34 fleet. The request follows an FAA order issued on Dec. 31 that requires Flight Standard District Offices to perform a "special inspection" of all T-34s in their region within 120 days. The order followed a fatal crash in Texas on Nov. 19, in which two men died in a T-34 Mentor after the right wing separated during air-combat maneuvers. This was the second accident in four years involving a T-34 wing failure in air-combat training, the FAA said. The type club said that both accidents involved "aircraft being flown regularly and deliberately outside the certificated envelope," and the T-34s are safe if flown within their limits. The FAA found that the accident aircraft, along with 203 of the 423 T-34s registered, had not yet complied with an Airworthiness Directive issued in 2001 that requires inspection of the wing spar assemblies. "This lack of compliance with an AD represents a significant safety problem," the FAA said. In asking for the one-year period for compliance, the T-34 Association said the existing AD is adequate. AOPA lent its support to the type club's position, saying the time frame is too narrow and could result in many aircraft being grounded while awaiting inspection. Of course, if a future inspection shows there's actually something wrong with an aircraft, that grounding might not be such a bad thing.