FAA Relaxes ECi Cylinder AD Somewhat


The FAA has backed off on its controversial bid to force the early replacement of thousands of ECi cylinders but still wants the cylinders on thousands of engines replaced long before the end of their normal service life. In 2013, the FAA issued an airworthiness directivecalling for repetitive inspections and early (sometimes immediate) replacement of 36,000 cylinders on Continental 520- and 550-series engines. Manufacturers, repair shops and even the NTSB have criticized the AD, saying the failure rate of the cylinders doesn’t justify such an expensive ($82 million) fix. A revised AD issued late last week reduced the number of affected cylinders by 20 percent, eliminated some of the inspection requirements and extended the life of the affected cylinders to an average of about 1,000 hours. AOPA says the relief is welcome, but it’s not enough.

“AOPA will file formal comments on the supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking and, once again, ask the FAA not to insist on early retirement of these cylinders,” Rob Hackman, AOPA’s VP of regulatory affairs, said in a story on AOPA’s website. The cylinders have a TBO of 1,700 hours and the NTSB says the FAA should require replacement then. The revised rule will require replacement as early as 1,000 hours and as late as 1,160 hours, depending on how many hours the cylinders have flown when the AD takes effect. The FAA says the revised rule also reduces the number of affected cylinders from 36,000 to 28,874. The comment period on the revised AD goes until Feb. 23 and comments can be submitted here.