Wipaire Engineers 206 Cargo Door Solution


Wipaire is engineering a fix for a long-standing issue with Cessna 206 aircraft in which emergency escape from the rear seats is hampered by deployed flaps. Wipaire VP of Engineering Brad Kutz said they’ve moved the latch for the rear cargo door to the inside from the door frame to make it accessible during an emergency. The 206 has double clamshell cargo doors and the flaps block the opening of the forward door. That makes it difficult to open the rear door because of the factory latch position. The original design has been blamed for at least eight deaths in the last 30 years including a 2019 landing accident on a lake in northern Canada in which three passengers survived the crash but drowned because they couldn’t escape from the inverted aircraft. Transport Canada subsequently issued an AD that required removal of a middle seat to allow rear seat passengers easier access to the front doors of the plane in an emergency. The FAA is now reviewing the Canadian action to determine if it will also issue an AD.

Kutz said the Wipaire fix is relatively simple and reuses most of the existing latch and door pin parts. “It’s easy to install in one day,” he told AVweb in an interview. Cost of the mod is expected to be less than $10,000. He said the company has been in consultation with Transport Canada and the FAA on the engineering. Wipaire is also designing an exterior latch for the rear cargo door that would make it easier for rescuers to get inside to get passengers out. As we reported earlier this month, two Canadian companies have collaborated on a fix involving a spring-loaded flap on the front cargo door that folds out of the way to allow the door to open.

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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    • Sad but consistent with US involvement in aviation. Somehow the US industry drove off the future innovators and problem solvers and left us with a dying shell of folks lacking motivation to solve these kinds of challenges unless there is a huge cash cow attached in some way. Today’s innovators seem to be more interested in developing an app that addresses a non-aviation niche or a new game they can sell for $5.00 or less in an app store. I use to think this situation would eventually right itself but I am not so sure anymore.

  1. I find it interesting that the FAA, who routinely cranks out ADs for small planes with little evidence of actual safety issues, has basically turned a blind eye to an obvious life safety issue on the 206. And, has done it for years. I also find it interesting that Cessna (Textron), who prides itself with its engineering acumen, essentially threw up their hands and said they could not find a practical way to address the problem. Gee Cessna, maybe you should hire some Canadian engineers to solve your problems for you.