Private Operators To The Back Of The Line
Lycoming says it will ramp up production of replacement crankshafts but as in previous recalls, priority will go to government operators and Part 121 and Part 135 operators, with private owners last. What's not known is if this recall withdraws all of the potentially defective crankshafts from the market. (We queried Lycoming about this but haven't received a reply yet.) The crankshafts in question were manufactured between March of 1997 and March of 2002. In a separate letter to distributors, Lycoming's Michael Everhart said, "While there have been no incidents involving these crankshafts, Lycoming Engines, in cooperation with the FAA, continues to monitor and analyze the approximate 5100 affected shafts. Lycoming Engines is instituting this proactive retirement from service to be consistent with our long-standing commitment to product quality and our customers."
Several engine shops we interviewed report mixed reactions to Lycoming's announcement, since many of them overhauled the engines that will now need replacement crankshafts. It's too soon to gauge customer reaction or, more important, how many owners may want to replace their crankshafts proactively. And what about those who don't? A mandatory service bulletin can be ignored by a Part 91 operator. "First, it's not an AD note, it's a service bulletin," says Allen Weiss of Certified Engines in Opa Locka, Fla. Does that mean Certified would allow a customer to reuse a retired crankshaft? "Yes. But we would probably get that in writing and have the customer sign a waiver." Weiss told us he believes Lycoming's price on the replacement crankshaft is a good deal but an owner who overhauled an engine 500 hours ago may not necessarily agree. We don't yet know if Lycoming will push for an AD upon expiration of the three-year retirement period.