Pilots' failure to remove gust lock sparks call for AD

September 18, 2008

A pilot’s lapse in judgment shouldn’t be corrected by an airworthiness directive (AD), AOPA has told the FAA. But that’s what the agency is trying to do. It recently proposed an AD that would require Viking Air Limited DHC-6 series aircraft be modified “to ensure downward deflection of the elevators when the control lock is installed and the addition of a control lock warning flag.”

The AD is the result of two instances in which a DHC-6 took off with the control lock installed. Additionally, a June 2008 accident in Hyannis, Mass., sparked concern because the preliminary accident report indicates that part of the control lock was still installed on the DHC-6.

A similar AD was issued for these aircraft by Transport Canada in 1990.

“The failure of the pilot to remove the control lock before flight is not an airworthiness issue, and AOPA feels that it is inappropriate for the FAA to issue an AD,” the association said in its formal comments.

AOPA commented similarly when the FAA issued an airworthiness concern sheet on Baron and Travel Air aircraft because pilots failed to remove the control locks before flight. In the case of these aircraft, the FAA agreed with AOPA and issued a special airworthiness information bulletin instead of an AD.