Aircraft are only as old as they feel

May 1, 2008

Aircraft are only as old as they feel

By AOPA ePublishing staff

When it comes to addressing corrosion or other maintenance issues in aging aircraft, AOPA wants to make sure the corrective measures are based on maintenance and usage, not solely on age.

That’s why the association is opposing a proposed airworthiness directive (AD) for de Havilland Twin Otters (DHC-6-1, DHC-6-100, DHC-6-200, and DHC-6-300). Viking Air now holds the type certificate for the airplanes.

The AD would require aircraft owners to create a schedule for initial and recurrent corrosion inspections based on Bombardier’s Corrosion Prevention and Control program, and then complete all of the inspections.

Even though the FAA hasn’t presented any evidence of an existing problem in the fleet, the proposed AD says, “Service experience indicates that as aircraft become older, they are more likely to exhibit indications of corrosion.”

“Unfortunately, the general premise of this proposed AD is true for any vehicle or structure made of metal,” wrote Leisha Bell, AOPA manager of regulatory affairs, in formal comments to the FAA. “Because of this AOPA feels the proposed AD is too broad and should be limited to aircraft within the DHC-6 fleet that have other factors that could induce the growth of corrosion and have a defined history of corrosion that has negatively affected the safety of flight.”

AOPA also reminded the FAA of its efforts to educate aircraft owners and operators of the structural concerns associated with aging aircraft and the measure that can be taken to mitigate them. In October 2007, AOPA released the online course, Aging Aircraft. So far, more than 14,000 people have completed the course.

May 1, 2008