Cirrus Grounds Its Own Planes Due To Potential Engine Manufacturing Defect (Updated)


Cirrus Aircraft has confirmed it has stopped flying all the SR22s and SR22Ts it operates that were built between June 21, 2021, and Feb. 7, 2023, because what is believed to be a manufacturing assembly defect in Continental engines. “Cirrus Aircraft has been informed by Continental Aerospace Technologies (Continental) of an issue that affects engines that power both Cirrus Aircraft’s SR22 and SR22T models,” the company said in a statement Feb. 9. “While we are still working with Continental to determine the scope of the issue and the specific serial number range of affected aircraft, we are proactively making the decision—out of an abundance of caution—to pause all internal Cirrus Aircraft company flight operations on SR22 and SR22Ts manufactured and issued a Certificate of Airworthiness from June 1, 2021, through February 7, 2023. Cirrus Aircraft continues to operate without restriction all its SR20s, as well as SR22s and SR22Ts manufactured before June 1, 2021 or after February 7, 2023. We anticipate Continental to issue a Service Bulletin in the near future, which will detail the specific range of affected aircraft, the root cause of the issue and corrective action. The Continental Service Bulletin will accompany a Cirrus Aircraft Service Advisory notification.” A source connected with an SR-22 owner said a letter from Cirrus reported that “a Service Bulletin(SB) from Continental will be released in the near future which will detail the specific range of affected aircraft, root cause of the issue and corrective action. This SB will be approved by the FAA. The part in question is the ‘snap washer’ that connects the Counter Balance Parts to the crankcase and may have been installed in reverse on some of those engines.” Neither Cirrus nor Continental offered any additional detail.

Continental high-output six-cylinder engines such as the IO-550 series used in the SR-22 are equipped with crankshaft counterbalance weights that move and suppress torsional or twisting loads on the crankshaft. The weights slide and are able to respond to RPM shifts. Although the details are unclear, the initial bulletin describes potential faulty assembly of some part of this system.

There has been no grounding of the aircraft by regulatory authorities, but the FAA confirmed it’s aware of the problem. “The FAA is investigating the issue and is evaluating possible next steps,” the agency said late Wednesday. Meanwhile, Cirrus says it took the grounding action internally and notified all operators of the affected planes, according to Flight Global. Cirrus didn’t say in its email how many planes are affected, but Flight Global researched it and estimated about 700 aircraft of those two types were built in that time period.

In an emailed statement on Thursday morning, a Continental representative told AVweb that “Continental is taking an abundance of caution regarding a potential flight safety issue. While we are currently working directly with the FAA regarding the affected aircraft, we are proactively making the decision to encourage all flights powered by a Continental 360, 470, 520, 550 engine manufactured between June 1, 2021 through February 7, 2023 to pause flight until further information is available.”

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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    • The way that sentence is written – with issue in quotes (“issue”) – indicates that Cirrus used that actual word in their letter.

  1. This is the subject of AD 2023-02-12. It is in the final ruling status. It’s related to Intake valves on cylinders made by Superior that were installed as replacements. It’s odd that Cirrus would ground the whole fleet of SR22’s over replacement parts. IIRC, Superior is now owned by CMI. So, maybe a bigger issue. Typical of CMI to fail to be transparent with a customer. Maybe Cirrus should investigate Lycoming as a supplier

    • I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think it’s related to that AD. It only applies to valves/cylinders with a certain Lot number. Those lots were installed after January of 2022. They are going back to June of 2021. I just went through this on my S35 and thankfully my lot numbers don’t apply. Unless they had them in stock earlier, but that’s not what the AD states.

    • Cirrus has already switched from the Continental IO-360 to the Lycoming IO-390 in the SR-20 series aircraft.

    • I’ve not understood why Cirrus didn’t move to Lycoming engines a long time ago. Lycoming power plants are more robust, make it to TBO more often and require less maintenance along the way. The LYCOMING TIO-540-AJ1A running in our 206s seems like the perfect upgrade. Of course we do know that Lycoming is owned by Textron now but that shouldn’t be a significant barrier to creating a better product for Cirrus owners. That said, Textron also bought Beech and still sells Bo and Barons with TCM engines so who the hell knows ?

    • Better than being in the airborne and having to let ATC know that you are declaring “a surprise”.

  2. Guys, you misread the article and jumped to conclusions. Isn’t this what many of you complain about? Cirrus grounded its owned fleet mentioned, not the entire fleet out there operating. The FAA is investigating the issue and hasn’t yet issued a bulletin or AD. Cirrus issued the release to let owners/operators know what Cirrus did internally with the planes it owns and operates. Probably a good idea to follow suit if you operate one of the affected planes and until the problem is addressed with regulatory action.

  3. Looks like they changed the dates of affected aircraft. My friend sent me this article this morning and it stated June 1 2001-Feb 2003 or something like that. It would have affected my G1. Now it looks like its affecting late model planes (which matches some links that others have posted)

  4. After reading the proposed AD, I’m wondering if the solution ( removal of cylinders to inspect the intake valve) might be creating a situation where the proposed solution is worse than the AD itself. With Cirrus it might be better to just replace the engine completely from a safety standpoint. Continental needs to reassess their supplier on this issue.

    • If it is in fact related to this AD, and the cylinder SNs are not part of the list, you don’t have to pull the cylinders. One can remove the rockers to verify the Lot number stamped around the end of the valve. If they are part of the affected Lot, they can be removed through the intake port.

  5. It is very clear that this is not clear at all. Not sure why Cirrus is not telling people what they believe the issue is.

      • Today, Cirrus issued Manufacturer’s Service Advisory SA23-03.

        Cirrus grounded * their own * planes while they sort out if any planes in their corp. fleet are impacted. Oddly enough, “For Engines with more than 200 operating hours:No further action required”, so this might be moot.

        Cirrus’ MSA simply says if your Cirrus is in the affected serial number range, you should refer to Continental Mandatory SB23-01 for compliance details. Cirrus deliberately left their airframe S/N range very vague since Cirrus general counsel is not going to risk making a judgment call to definitively tell you if your airframe does/doesn’t fall under Continental’s MSB; they are leaving that up for the owner/ operator to verify if you are affected with Continental.

        Continental’s MSB23-01 deals with inspection of affected crankshafts for proper counterweight installation of a specific seral number range of recent engines.

        As Russ and others mentioned, it is not related to any aftermarket valve proposed AD.

        As anyone who had to sit through a 147 class on regs will tell you, Mandatory service bulletins are not mandatory for Pt 91 ops., you can legally ignore this at your own peril. The FAA determines airworthiness standards and issues ADs if amendments to the engine’s type certificate are deemed necessary to ensure continued airworthiness.

        The MSB’s actions section has had its engineering portions marked as FAA approved data under Pt 43, and that’s what your A&P would cite as his reference for approved data.
        This exact MSB may eventually be incorporated by reference into a mandatory AD in the future, but is not by itself compulsory today

  6. This present issue as brought to light by Cirrus has NOTHING to do with AD 2023-02-12.
    Apples and Oranges-
    A Cirrus dealer reached by phone, Kenny Scherado, president of Lone Mountain Aviation in Las Vegas, said the issue involves counterweights installed in Continental 550 series engines, and has not led to an engine failure.

    “They found it during an inspection,” Scherado said.

    • Yep, and as the updated article states, a washer may have been installed backwards (they say “snap” washer, perhaps a Belleville or something similar?)
      I would imagine it could lead to excessive lateral motion of the counterweights; we’ll see.