...Piper Rushes To Fix 49 Planes Grounded

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Meanwhile, New Piper is whittling down the number of aircraft that are grounded as it identifies those that contain parts made from the defective steel. The company originally issued a Mandatory Service Bulletin grounding 76 aircraft built since mid-January. Of those, 39 had been delivered to customers. Spokesman Mark Miller said that by last Friday, the number of affected aircraft had been cut to 49, of which 20 were in customers' hands, 23 were at dealers and six were still at the factory. Because the aircraft can't be flown, teams of service technicians must be sent to inspect and, as necessary, retrofit the affected aircraft with new steel parts. Miller said the steel is used throughout the aircraft for parts that need the extra strength. In some cases, the parts are readily accessible and easy to change but getting at others will require major disassembly of the aircraft. The fault was discovered when a production-line worker noticed that a seat belt bracket had bent. "The good news out of all this is the (quality control) system worked," Miller said. He said he's not sure how long it will take to retrofit the affected aircraft but the company is working flat-out to resolve the problem, starting with the airplanes that have already been delivered.