January 31, 2012
By Jim Moore
With no evidence of control cable problems affecting Beechcraft Bonanzas (and other models) in the United States, the FAA has opted not to force thousands of aircraft to be grounded pending inspection.
The agency, working with Hawker-Beechcraft and the American Bonanza Society (ABS), arrived at the decision last week, following review of orders issued Jan. 13 by the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).
CASA grounded various Beechcraft models equipped with a “throw over” control yoke after a Beech 33 returned to the ramp in December with a broken elevator control cable. The problem was identified by the pilot during runup; subsequent inspections uncovered a frayed cable in a second aircraft.
According to Australian press accounts, about 270 aircraft were grounded pending inspection of control cables. CASA also ordered replacement of all cable assemblies more than 15 years old, regardless of their condition--a decision deemed “unnecessary and expensive” by ABS safety officials.
ABS told AOPA that a similar decision in the United States would have affected 10,000 aircraft or more, spanning various models and years.
After polling mechanics and inspectors across the country, ABS learned that no similar problems with frayed control cables have been identified in the American fleet. The society is working with the FAA to ensure all mechanics are aware that control cables should be inspected along their entire length during annual inspection. The FAA is expected to issue a special airworthiness information bulletin to that effect, and will continue to monitor the situation--as will ABS.
“The American Bonanza Society thanks the engineers and leaders of the FAA's office of Continuing Operational Safety for its careful review of the issue before making a rulemaking decision,” the society said in a press release.
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
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