Piper Aircraft has confirmed the FAA will issue an AD on Monday requiring specific inspection, at annual, of the control cable assemblies of tens of thousands of aircraft that are 15 years or older. The AD will affect Cherokee, Saratoga, Lance and Seminole models. It will at first apply to the older aircraft but as each of the remaining aircraft hits its 15th birthday the inspections will become mandatory. Eventually 34,000 aircraft will be affected. Piper spokeswoman Jackie Carlon said the company has already issued a service bulletin and mandatory service bulletin regarding the control cable inspections and "cooperated fully" with the FAA in developing the AD.
The AD results from three incidents in which control cable problems were implicated. Carlon said the problems should have been caught during the normal annual inspections. "In the three reports cited, evidence of approaching failure should have been clearly observable during the Piper-mandated 100 hour recurring inspection schedule," Carlon said in a statement first issued to the Wall Street Journal and then provided to AVweb. "Considering that there are tens of thousands of the indicated Piper models in operation in the past 50 years, the historical data demonstrates that trained mechanics can identify these conditions before failure occurs. Reinforcing these inspection procedures will be helpful to maintain Piper's safety record." Piper says it will help owners determine if their aircraft are affected immediately.