Mandatory Lycoming crankshaft replacement at 12 years unnecessary, AOPA says

June 29, 2006

Mandatory Lycoming crankshaft replacement at 12 years unnecessary, AOPA says

Lycoming engine

Say you've put 500 hours on your aircraft engine and Lycoming crankshaft over the past 12 years. That's far short of the typical 2,000 hours time between overhaul. But if the FAA implements its latest proposed airworthiness directive (AD), you could have to tear down a perfectly running engine to replace a functional, low-time crankshaft.

"[The FAA's proposal] is unwarranted and an unacceptable expense to owners," wrote Luis Gutierrez, AOPA director of regulatory and certification policy, in a letter to the FAA. He later explained, "Affected owners would incur a significant economic impact if forced to retire their engine crankshaft prematurely."

The proposed AD would affect about 3,800 engines ranging from the O-360 to IO-720 reciprocating series and would require the crankshafts be replaced at 12 years.

AOPA says the 12-year limit makes no sense - and even the FAA agrees with that point.

"The FAA readily admits in the proposed AD [that] the unsafe condition is unrelated to calendar time and that the crank removal at overhaul is sufficient to reduce the risk of failure to an acceptable level," Gutierrez said.

The cost to aircraft owners affected by this proposed AD would be substantial.

If aircraft owners opted to replace the crankshaft before February 21, 2009, Lycoming said it would charge $2,000 for the kit. (But add in time and labor of an overhaul.) Lycoming has said that after that date, the discounted kits would return to full price, at $16,000.

AOPA contacted Lycoming about the enormous financial burden that would place on members and requested that the company offer the kits at $2,000, regardless of when they are purchased.

Lycoming recently agreed to consider AOPA's recommendation.

June 29, 2006