AOPA, Superior, FAA work to minimize aircraft downtime

April 25, 2014

Editor's Note: AOPA, Superior Air Parts, and the FAA are continuing to work toward a solution for aircraft affected by the Superior Air Parts cylinder airworthiness directive. Superior is developing an alternative means of compliance (AMOC), and indications are that the effort should, in the near future, lead to an AMOC that will enable continued flight beyond the 12-year limitation of the existing AD.

An airworthiness directive (AD) on Superior Air Parts cylinders installed on certain Continental Motors engines has grounded some aircraft, but AOPA is working with the company and the FAA on a solution intended to minimize any down time. The AD went into effect April 25.

“Superior is working to develop and submit an alternative means of compliance that, if it can be successfully implemented, will minimize the amount of time affected aircraft are grounded,” said Rob Hackman, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. “The FAA will evaluate Superior’s alternative means of compliance upon submission and make a determination regarding its implementation.”

In the meantime, AOPA encourages affected owners to delay any action on their engines for now.

Issued in 2009 and reissued in March, the AD was prompted by the FAA’s concerns of “separation of the cylinder head, damage to the engine, and damage to the airplane.”  It affects Continental Motors IO-520, TSIO-520, and IO-550 engines, and any other engine, such as the 470 series, that has a supplemental type certificate for the same cylinder assemblies as the 520 and 550 series. The AD lists the Superior Air Parts part numbers that are affected.

The AD calls for the initial inspection of the affected cylinder assemblies with over 750 flight hours, time in service.  After the initial inspection, repetitive visual inspections and compression tests are required every 50 flight hours until it reaches 12 calendar years since installation or has reached its operating time in service hours between overhaul limits. The 12-calendar-year limit is what has grounded some aircraft.   

“AOPA appreciates all involved in working quickly toward a potential resolution,” said Hackman.