AOPA backs alternative AD on Champion wood wing spars but wants more detailed instructions, more limited inspection
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association told the FAA July 16 that it supports a rewritten airworthiness directive on Aeronca, Bellanca, and Champion 7-, 8-, and 11-series aircraft with wood wing spars but wants more explicit maintenance instructions and a narrower scope of required inspections.
“We applaud the FAA’s reconsideration of this issue,” said Dennis Roberts, AOPA vice president/executive director of government and technical affairs, “but detailed instructions on the alternative inspection procedure and a more limited scope of inspection needs to be incorporated into the final AD.”
The FAA originally proposed AD 97-CE-79-AD in November 1997 to mandate repetitive inspections for compression cracks in forward and aft wood wing spars. The inspection AD would have required installation of more than 20 new inspection holes (including two large top-of-wing inspection panels.)
AOPA and others opposed the action in whole or in part, particularly because the upper wing inspection ports would likely admit water, posing more of a safety threat to wood wing spars. AOPA backed alternative procedures developed by the Citabria Owners Group to inspect wood spars using a Bend-a-Light and mirrors and not requiring numerous new inspection holes.
On June 4, the FAA withdrew the original AD and proposed an action relying on the mirrors and Bend-a-Light method.
AOPA told the FAA on July 16 that the specifics of Bend-a-Light procedures should be incorporated into the final AD, or the AD should advise mechanics how to obtain the procedure from the Citabria type club.
In addition, AOPA said the inspections should be limited to the wing spar areas where cracks would be likely to begin: (1) between ribs near the strut attachment, and (2) inboard/outboard of the spar doubler plates. Even the FAA’s revised proposal required tip-to-tip inspection of the entire spar.
AOPA lauded the FAA’s willingness to reconsider alternative compliance methods developed by those with specific experience in the aircraft type and backed by AOPA.
“Coordination efforts such as this better serve the aviation community and the public. They use the wealth of operational knowledge and experience of aircraft type clubs and owners’ organizations,” said Roberts.
“This way of doing business increases the overall quality and affordability of AD compliance actions, streamlines the FAA’s AD development process, increases the flying public’s awareness of legitimate airworthiness concerns, and strengthens communication between the FAA and the general aviation community.”
The upcoming AD will affect some 6,500 U.S.-registered airplanes including Aeronca, Bellanca, and Champion models 7AC, 7BCM, 7DC, S7EC, 7GC, 7GCB, 7HC, 7KCAB, S11AC, 7ACA, 7CCM, S7DC, 7ECA, 7GCA, 7GCBA, 7JC, 8KCAB, 11AB, S7AC, S7CCM, 7EC, 7FC, 7GCAA, 7GCBC, 7KC, 11AC, and S11BC with wood wing spars.
July 27, 1999