Regulatory Brief -- Raytheon Aircraft asks FAA to issue gust lock AD for Beech Baron and Travel Air aircraft

Regulatory Brief

Raytheon Aircraft asks FAA to issue gust lock AD for Beech Baron and Travel Air aircraft

The issue:

In November of 1998, Raytheon Aircraft issued service bulletin SB-27-3205, which cited an accident caused by a pilot's failure to remove the flight control gust lock prior to attempting takeoff. As a preventative measure, Raytheon recommended the installation of a new flight control gust lock and asked that the FAA issue an Airworthiness Directive (AD).making such installation mandatory.

The importance to our members:

There are approximately 4,500 affected airplanes in the FAA aircraft registry. Should the maintenance actions recommended in SB-27-3205 be required by the FAA through the issuance of an AD, owners of the affected aircraft will be required to modify their existing flight control columns and install a newly designed flight control gust lock at a cost of more than $1,200.

Significant provisions:

  • In SB-27-3205, Raytheon states that is has received one report of an accident in which a pilot failed to remove the flight control gust lock prior to attempting takeoff.
  • A search of available data revealed that there have been three incidents of this nature in over thirty years.
  • These three incidents indicate that pilots are failing to correctly complete specific operational tasks common to all aircraft such as pre-flight inspection, proper use of checklists, and proper taxi techniques.
  • SB-27-3205 recommends drilling a new hole in the flight control column, installing a newly designed flight control gust lock and requests that the FAA issue an AD requiring the completion of these maintenance actions.

AOPA position:

AOPA maintains that a pilot's failure to remove a flight control gust lock prior to flight is an operational issue rather than an airworthiness concern. If the pilots involved in any of the three incidents had correctly completed the pre-flight inspection, used a checklist, or used proper taxi techniques the flight control gust lock would have been discovered and removed long before takeoff was attempted. Given the fact that only three incidents of this nature have taken place in the past thirty years, AOPA holds that operational issues with this low level of incidence do not warrant FAA issuance of an AD. Additionally, AOPA maintains that FAA issuance of a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) reminding pilots to remove the gust lock prior to attempting takeoff would be the most appropriate action.

Status:

  • On March 11, 2002, FAA issues SAIB No. CE-02-19 in response to AOPA's recommendation.
  • On November 14, 2001, AOPA responded to FAA opposing any mandatory modifications to Beech flight control gust locks, instead recommending owner advisory information.
  • On August 13, 2001, FAA issued an Airworthiness Concern Sheet indicating the possible of mandatory modifications to Beechcraft flight control gust locks or possible owner advisories on the importance of following proper preflight procedures to ensure gust lock removal prior to attempting flight.
  • On March 16, 1999, AOPA sent a letter to the FAA Wichita Aircraft Certification Office highlighting AOPA's concerns and recommending that the FAA issue an SAIB reminding pilots of the importance of removing the flight control gust lock prior to flight. The FAA has responded by indicating that no AD will be issued as a result of AOPA's comments.

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