FAA Mum On Lycoming, As Lyc Seeks Appeal

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The FAA is declining comment (for now, at least) on a court case in Texas that determined the agency was misled on the cause of Lycoming engine crankshaft failures that caused 24 crashes and killed 12 people between 2000 and 2002. As AVweb told you last Thursday, a Grimes County jury found that Lycoming had fraudulently claimed that improper heat treatment of the crankshaft forgings by subcontractor Interstate Southwest was the cause of the failures. It awarded damages to Interstate totaling $96 million. Lycoming has confirmed it will appeal. FAA chief spokesman Greg Martin said the agency is aware of the decision and constantly monitors the safety of aircraft engines but is not taking any direct action because of the verdict. "Court cases have their own dynamics [based on] who is more persuasive to the jurors," Martin told AVweb. "I'm not in any position to offer the FAA's endorsement of jury's verdict." The FAA apparently previously agreed with Lycoming's assessment (not the jury's) when it was included in the Emergency Airworthiness Directive that grounded hundreds of aircraft with 300-plus horsepower engines and resulted in one of the largest recalls in aviation history. But the jury in Interstate's lawsuit against Lycoming determined that the FAA was duped, that the crankshafts were under-designed in the first place and further weakened by the addition of Vanadium.

So what, precisely, did the FAA know about the cranks? Is it launching a fresh probe? Will there be further ADs? All questions the agency may be asked to answer as the next round of legal wrangling grinds to life in Texas. Textron Lycoming has confirmed it will appeal the verdict. "At this point, [Thursday] Lycoming has just recently received the verdict and we're studying it very carefully," spokeswoman Karen Gordon told the Wichita Business Journal. "We strongly disagree with the outcome of this case and we're going to very aggressively pursue post trial motions and the appellate process, if necessary, and firmly believe we're going to prevail."