When the FAA issued a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin in November that effectively grounded some Zodiac aircraft until they were modified, that bulletin did not apply to amateur-built airplanes, although at least one of the aircraft that had been involved in a fatal crash apparently involving aerodynamic flutter was amateur-built. This week, EAA published the results of a survey of Zenith 601 XL and 650 kit owners that aimed to gauge their awareness of the SAIB, their awareness of the service directive/safety alert issued by the manufacturer, and their intent to comply with both. The results, EAA said, showed that owners/builders are aware of these developments, and 84 percent of those who responded to the survey are planning to incorporate the safety directive into their project, with a large majority voluntarily grounding their aircraft until modifications are completed. These results show that the homebuilt community is proactive about safety and self-regulates when needed, EAA said. Marc Cook, editor of Kitplanes, said his experience conforms to EAA's results. "This survey aligns with the feedback we have received from Zodiac builders, who seem willing to put safety well ahead of the inconvenience of making the modifications," he told AVweb. "One builder we spoke with called the proposed changes 'a huge job,' but felt that they absolutely should be completed."
EAA said since the majority of respondents wanted more facts, it recommends releasing the testing data so all members of the 601 community can assess it for themselves. "The safety of the pilots, their passengers, and persons and property on the ground is dependent upon this information being made available," EAA said. "If and when that factual data is released, EAA will do its part to inform our members and the homebuilding community. Our technical counselors, numerous chapters, and the manufacturer can and should be utilized to educate the 601 XL community on the extensive and challenging modification." Click here for EAA's complete survey results and analysis.