FAA, AOPA: Comments Wanted On Cessna 177 And 210 Spar Cracking


Following the fatal crash of a 1976 Cessna T210M in Australia, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau determined the aircraft had suffered a separation of the spar carrythrough structure, which prompted Textron to issue a Mandatory Service Bulletin to inspect the area on both the 210 and Cessna Cardinal/177 models.

While we previously reported on this issue, Textron’s guidance makes clear that the mandatory inspections within the next 10 flight hours apply to aircraft with more than 2500 hours’ total time that have been subjected to “severe” usage. For aircraft operated “typically,” the inspections would start at 15,000 hours’ total time. The accident airplane had been modified with additional fuel capacity and fitted with a tail-boom sensor pack, and had more than 12,000 hours. 

While refraining from making the service bulletin into an Airworthiness Directive, the FAA nonetheless published an Airworthiness Concern Sheet on June 27 calling for feedback from owners and mechanics to help determine if the Australian accident was an anomaly or a possible precursor to corrosion-induced fatigue cracking of the carrythrough member on these cantilever-wing Cessnas. And now AOPA has joined in, asking members to submit their findings so that the association can help organize this data for the FAA. 

AOPA says that “The information requested is intended to help the FAA determine the status of the affected fleet, including total time-in-service on airframes, any modifications or supplemental type certificates, and the usage environment in which aircraft are operated.” The association wants to submit feedback to the FAA by Aug. 1, 2019.

Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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  1. Unless there has been a more recent bulletin, the compliance time for 210s is 1500 hours for 210s flown in “severe usage, and 2500 hours for 177s flown in severe usage. If not flown in severe usage the “typical usage”compliance times apply which are 4000 hours for cantilever 210s and 15000 hours for the C-177s.
    Severe usage is defined as: (a) Severe Usage Environment
    1 If the average flight length is less than 30 minutes, then you must use the SEVERE
    inspection time limits.
    2 If the airplane has been engaged in operations at low altitudes such as pipeline
    patrol, fish or game spotting, aerial applications, police patrol, sightseeing, livestock
    management, etc. more than 30% of its life you must use the SEVERE inspection
    time limits.
    (b) Typical Usage Environment
    If 1 or 2 above does not apply, the TYPICAL usage
    environment applies.