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.
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.
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.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.