Cessna Firewall Cracks Raise Concerns

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FBO Wants AD...

A Midwest FBO wants the FAA to step in on a defect issue with late-model Cessna Skyhawks. Shawn Sayle, maintenance manager of Langa Air, in East Alton, Ill., said all of the company's eight Skyhawks have developed cracks in the firewalls within the first 200 hours. Although Cessna has issued Mandatory Service Bulletin 985302 and developed a repair kit, Sayle said he would like to see an Airworthiness Directive (AD) issued by the FAA. To that end he's sent a Malfunction and Defect report to the feds but hasn't heard back. Sayle speculates the problem may be due to the relocation of the battery on the firewall and that landings -- especially nose-first ones -- cause the firewall to flex with the weight of the battery and the cracks to form. According to Sayle, the cracks may be difficult to spot during routine inspections because of the firewall insulation.

...Can Be Costly

Even though Langa's maintenance staff was well-versed on the problem, one of the cracks they discovered had grown to two and seven-eighths of an inch, just under the maximum length of three inches that can be repaired by the relatively inexpensive Cessna repair kit. The kit consists of a doubler and a brace to shore up the firewall. Had the crack been a little longer, a new firewall would have been required ... a job Sayle said would entail more than 40 hours of work and cost thousands of dollars. "I'm just trying to get the word out," said Sayle. "I'm trying to save some people some time." AVweb contacted Jessica Myers, Cessna's manager of corporate communications, four times over a period of four days to discuss the firewall issue, but the company was unable to supply us with a comment.