AOPA questions NTSB tailwheel Cessna recommendations

March 29, 2001

AOPA is questioning a recent NTSB letter to the FAA requesting the issuance of an airworthiness directive (AD) affecting thousands of tailwheel Cessnas with spring-steel landing gears. Following a 1999 accident in Alaska in which the left landing gear of a Cessna 185 collapsed during a landing rollout, NTSB told the FAA that it should require the removal and inspection of the main landing gear spring struts on all Cessna 170, 180, 185, 190, and 195 aircraft. NTSB wants a dye-penetrant inspection for corrosion and cracks.

But only 25 aircraft since 1974 have been reported as having cracks in a main landing gear strut. Many of those aircraft were involved in "bush flying" in Alaska. AOPA noted that the extremely small number of aircraft involved and the type of problem cited in the NTSB report does not justify a mandatory AD action.

(Interestingly, while NTSB recommendations are usually unanimous, is this case two members, John Goglia, an A&P mechanic, and John Hammerschmidt, a private pilot, did not concur.)

AOPA will work with the Cessna type clubs to provide the FAA with the information to demonstrate that an AD is not required.

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