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.”