Piper Grounding Tip Of The Iceberg?...

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Weak Steel Might Have Gone To Other Manufacturers...

The FAA has confirmed it's investigating whether defective heat-treated steel found in dozens of New Piper aircraft made its way to other manufacturers. "It's something we are definitely looking into," FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen told AVweb. She said there is no evidence to date that the issue affects any other manufacturer but Charles Nelson, vice president of marketing for Wilco Inc., the Wichita steel distributor that supplied the steel to Piper, told AVweb any number of aircraft manufacturers or other types of industries could have taken delivery of specially heat-treated steel that is not as strong as it should be. "I've told them (the FAA) that every time I've talked to them," said Nelson, whose company is, perhaps unfairly, at the center of the grounding of at least 49 newly built Pipers last week. Wilco Inc. was the middleman in the delivery of specially treated steel to New Piper. Steel mills don't make the AMS 6345 "normalized" steel that is used in some airplane parts. Normalized steel is heated to specific temperatures and cooled at a controlled rate to increase its strength. As a steel distributor, Wilco arranged to have steel properly prepared after receiving an order from Piper earlier this year. Although there are many companies that can do the process, Piper wanted sheets of steel that were larger than most companies could treat. Nelson said he was aware of only one company that could do the job at that time.