Cirrus Issues Service Bulletin After Control Jam

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Last week Cirrus issued a mandatory Service Bulletin that requires the replacement of some control system parts that, in specific cross control circumstances, can cause the rudder and aileron controls to jam. The Service Bulletin was issued a month after the controls jammed on a relatively new SR20 as a student pilot was lining up for takeoff at Leesburg, Va. According to the NTSB report, the student had applied full right rudder and full left aileron and both systems locked. His instructor aborted the takeoff safely. Investigators found control system parts tangled together and were able to repeat the jamming action. In its Service Bulletin, Cirrus calls for new parts that will prevent the entanglement and it also notes that the jamming has never been reported in aircraft with properly rigged controls. However, the relatively simple fix for the technical issue could affect a lawsuit stemming from the crash of New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle’s SR20 last October. Although the NTSB says pilot error was to blame and no mechanical irregularities were found in the plane, the lawyer for Lidle’s widow Melanie has filed suit against Cirrus claiming the crash was caused by a failure of the flight controls. The suit alleges the aircraft have a history of flight-control-related crashes. The control inputs that caused the jam on the ground in Leesburg would put the aircraft in a forward slip in flight. Lidle and his flight instructor Tyler Stanger were in a steep left turn when they hit a Manhattan apartment building.