The Aging Fleet And FAA Action -- Cessna Twins...

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Wing-Spar Cracks Found In Two Aircraft

The FAA on Sunday issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive that requires more frequent inspections for wing-spar cracks on twin Cessna 402C and 414A models that have not already been modified with spar straps. Undetected cracks could result in the loss of a wing in flight, the FAA said. The Emergency AD was prompted by two recent incidents of cracked spars in 402C aircraft -- each with more than 20,000 hours time in service. Cracks were found in the wing spar of a 402C flown by a commuter airline on Feb. 11, after the pilot reported that a 45-degree yoke deflection was required to keep the airplane level. "Maintenance personnel who inspected the failed spar said it was a miracle that the wing did not fail in flight," technical analyst Mike Busch wrote in a report to members of the Cessna Pilots Association. "It should be noted that the FAA considers this situation so critical and potentially life-threatening that it had staff work on this emergency AD over a federal holiday three-day weekend so the AD could be issued in the shortest possible time," Busch said. Owners should expect further action from the FAA, he added, saying the new AD is "clearly a stop-gap measure intended to buy time until a better solution can be found." Owners can expect that the FAA will issue future ADs, possibly involving more extensive visual inspections and/or non-destructive inspections, Busch said. "Furthermore, the ongoing development of an AD that mandates the Cessna spar strap modification for 402C and 414A aircraft is likely to be accelerated as a result of the two 402Cs with cracked spars," he said.