...And Worries Persist Of More To Come

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According to the Cessna Twin Spar Corp., an owners' group, the 400-series AD is only the tip of the iceberg. "We have been assured by Cessna and FAA personnel (speaking off-the-record) that ALL twin Cessna models will soon be affected by similar ADs," according to the group's Web site. At the meeting, the FAA said it has no information that indicates an unsafe condition exists in other models. However, the FAA said it "is aware that Cessna is evaluating the adequacy of other models' spars, [and] FAA will evaluate Cessna's data when it is submitted." The PowerPoint presentations from the meeting are available online. Participants included the FAA, Cessna, GAMA, owners and others. At least one owner at the meeting complained that the proposed ADs set a new precedent, with the FAA acting to prevent accidents based on engineering analyses, rather than reacting to accident data. The problem of how to safely maintain aging aircraft is becoming more imperative as the GA fleet gets older. In a guide on the topic published last September, the FAA said that in 2000, the average age of the nation's 150,000 single-engine planes was 30 years, and by 2020 it may be approaching 50 years. Already, much of the GA fleet is being used well beyond the hours and years that were expected or intended when the aircraft were built, the FAA said. The regulations in force in the 1950s and before lacked standards regarding fatigue and continued airworthiness. For aging aircraft, the FAA said, normal annual inspections are probably not adequate to ensure safety.