T-34s Grounded

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Spar Cracks Apparently Spreading...

The FAA has grounded the entire fleet (about 320 in the U.S.) of Beech A45 and T-34 aircraft after it was discovered that cracks in a location on the wing spar not covered by a previous Airworthiness Directive (AD) led to the crash of a Texas Air Aces T-34 last Tuesday. An emergency AD was issued Friday that covers all variants of the military trainer, which is used by several companies for mock combat, aerobatics and upset-recovery instruction. The aircraft can only be flown on ferry permits to their home bases or repair centers and only in VFR conditions with no forecast moderate or severe turbulence. Last Tuesday's accident killed pilot Richard Gillenwaters and customer Pietro Migliori, of Venezuela. The left wing came off the aircraft and the AD says that the center section of the wing failed four inches inboard of the attach point. FAA investigators also found evidence of fatigue at other locations, none of which were covered by the previous AD. That AD, requiring periodic inspection of various wing components, was issued after a November 2003 wing separation on a Texas Air Aces T-34 that killed owner Don Wylie and a customer.