Aging Aircraft Face Regulatory Hurdles

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T-34 Wing-Spar AD Takes Effect Today...

When the FAA published a rule a couple of weeks ago declaring invalid all the alternative methods of compliance (AMOCs) it had previously OK'd for dealing with T-34 wing-spar concerns, it left the fleet up in the air, so to speak. Would the new rule, which takes effect today, mean that the airplanes would have to be grounded? It seems that many will, because although the FAA had approved one revised AMOC by last Thursday, and at least two more are in the pipeline, the shops that are authorized to do the work are already backlogged. "These backlogs could lead to significant delays in scheduling and extended down time for aircraft owners," said AOPA's Luis Gutierrez. This month's Airworthiness Directive invalidated four previous AMOCs approved for the original AD, because the FAA said they do not address all four critical areas prone to fatigue cracks in the aircraft's wing-spar assemblies. Revisions of at least two more of the four former AMOCs have been submitted and are under expedited review. Affected aircraft include Raytheon Aircraft Corp. Beech Models 45 (YT-34), A45 (T-34A, B-45) and D45 (T-34B). The FAA has said T-34 owners may obtain ferry permits to move their aircraft to a location that can complete the required rear spar inspection, according to EAA.