Pressed by AOPA and the Cessna Pilots Association, the FAA has reopened the comment period for two contentious and potentially very costly proposed airworthiness directives (ADs).
The ADs, affecting more than 1,000 Cessna 401, 402, and 411 model aircraft, mandate inspection of wingspar caps for fatigue cracks and installation of a Cessna-manufactured spar strap modification kit. Estimates of the cost to comply with the ADs run as high as $70,000 per aircraft.
AOPA and the Cessna Pilots Association oppose the proposed ADs because they are not based on "real-world" reports.
The proposed ADs are based entirely on theoretical data from a federally funded engineering analysis done by Cessna. To date, there has not been a history of trouble reports from the field to support the theory.
To make matters worse, if the AD were to be issued, the compliance methods are too complex to be completed in the field, and aviation maintenance experts say there may be only three maintenance facilities in the country capable of performing the necessary work on the twin Cessnas.
"It's likely to take several years to comply with the provisions of the proposed ADs," said AOPA Director of Regulatory and Certification Affairs Luis Gutierrez. "The resulting aircraft downtime would be devastating to owners and operators of affected aircraft."
[See also AOPA's regulatory brief.]