FAA Issues Final Cessna Wing Spar ADs

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After much back and forth between the FAA and owners of affected Cessna twins, two final Airworthiness Directives about wing spars were issued last week. The final ADs require a spar-strap modification, but allow most owners up to 800 flight hours to comply -- that's four to eight years of flying for most owner-operators. The modification then is good for another 5,500 to 12,000 hours, with no further inspections required. The initial cost to comply is still high -- aviation columnist Mike Busch told AVweb he estimates it will cost $40,000 to $60,000 per airplane, and up to two months of downtime. However, he said, the market value of Cessna 300/400 twins should start increasing now that the AD is on the streets. "It has long been my feeling that the uncertainty of the impending rulemaking was depressing the market more than the certainty of a known AD," Busch said. "Furthermore, the spar-strap mod will instantly increase the market value of the aircraft by very nearly 100 percent of the cost of the modification, so the modification cost will largely be recaptured if and when the aircraft is sold."

Busch and AOPA both said that the AD process worked as it should have. "The FAA worked with the industry to ultimately come up with a solution that addressed the safety concerns while maintaining the utility of these aircraft," said Luis Gutierrez, AOPA director of regulatory and certification policy. Busch agreed: "This effort included two major public meetings during which the FAA and industry groups exchanged views with far greater openness than has ever before occurred in such a rulemaking effort. Hopefully this will set a precedent for how the FAA 'does business' in dealing with high-impact rulemaking activities in the future." AD 2005-12-12 affects all tip-tank 401, 402 and 411 models, and AD 2005-12-13 affects all wet-wing 402C and 414A models. Both take effect this Wednesday, but the FAA will accept comments on them until Aug. 3.