Owners should give special care to aging aircraft

July 22, 2009

Passengers aboard Southwest Airlines Flight 2294 were given a rude surprise a few weeks ago when the oxygen masks suddenly dropped from the ceiling. The reason for the masks was a decompression caused by a large hole in the roof of the cabin. The jet landed safely with no injuries to passengers, but the incident serves as a reminder that aging airplanes, even those operated to the airlines’ maintenance standards, have special needs that all owners must attend to.

AOPA has worked hard in recent years to ensure that the FAA understands those needs and doesn’t impose erroneous or unnecessary airworthiness directives or other mandatory items on owners of these legacy aircraft.

“AOPA believes that more than just age should be considered when issuing ADs on older aircraft,” said Leisha Bell, AOPA director of aircraft and environmental issues. “Maintenance, accident history, and how an aircraft was previously used could play a direct role in future continued airworthiness issues on a specific aircraft.”

Bell recommends joining your aircraft’s type club to get the full value of age- and maintenance-specific recommendations. AOPA has partnered with these groups in the past to make sure the FAA hears a unified voice when it comes to proposed ADs.

Finally, Bell said, take the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s online course Aging Aircraft . This interactive course covers the basics of what all owners of aging aircraft need to know.