AOPA will continue to monitor the progress of an FAA and Cessna investigation into possible problems with the fuel tanks of some Cessna single-engine models, most recently reported in a front-page article in the Wall Street Journal.
That article cited reports of difficult-to-drain water contamination in some late-model Cessna single-engine airplanes with integral fuel tanks, particularly the Cessna 172P, R, and S models. The Cessna 172P model was first produced as a 1981 model, with the R and S models introduced after the Cessna single-engine production line was restarted in 1995.
"Although these aircraft have excellent safety records, we're watching this investigation carefully," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "And as AOPA does with all FAA findings that could result in safety and/or cost implications for our members, we'll take an active role in disseminating the information and insisting that the recommended cure is justified by the findings."
Boyer noted that neither AOPA nor the AOPA Air Safety Foundation conduct technology research on aircraft design issues. When questions about the possible fuel tank problem surfaced in February, however, ASF reviewed NTSB accident records on the Cessna 172 and found no widespread fuel contamination problems with the aircraft type.
The latest ASF Safety Review on Cessna 172 aircraft, published in late 1999, shows the Cessna 172 accident rate per 100,000 hours flown to be 6.67, with a fatal accident rate of just 1.60. Those figures were slightly better than other aircraft in a comparison group of five other fixed-gear single-engine piston aircraft.
That report is available on AOPA Online.