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AOPA works to keep aging aircraft safe, affordableAOPA works to keep aging aircraft safe, affordable

AOPA works to keep aging aircraft safe, affordable
Handling of T-34s could set precedent

When the FAA holds a public meeting next month to discuss getting T-34s back in the air, the future of aging aircraft will be an important underlying theme. That's one reason AOPA will be on hand to help work for solutions that will keep older aircraft flying safely and affordably.

The FAA has scheduled a February 15-16 public meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, to discuss technical issues and potential corrective actions to return Raytheon Beech Model 45 aircraft, commonly known as T-34s, to the air. The FAA grounded all T-34s in December after the in-flight wing failure of an aircraft operated by Texas Air Aces, a company that trains pilots in mock air combat.

"AOPA will attend this meeting to work for solutions that can restore the safety of these aircraft," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of Government and Technical Affairs. "For all aircraft owners, we'll continue working with the FAA on how it addresses issues facing aging aircraft."

That's because the FAA thinks that the T-34s' problem could be an early indicator of problems facing other older aircraft. Some T-34s have a much greater number of fatigue cycles than the typical GA aircraft. That means failures could occur in a T-34's structure decades before it might occur in a similar aircraft flown more conventionally.

"But we also want to be careful about extrapolating from the T-34 experience," said Cebula. "Some of these aircraft experience G loads and perform maneuvers that are never encountered in the life of a normal or utility category aircraft."

The T-34 public meeting will begin at 1 p.m., February 15 at the Hilton Airport Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, and continue from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. February 16. Comments also may be mailed to the FAA, Small Airplane Directorate, Continued Operational Safety Branch, ACE-113, 901 Locust, Room 301, Kansas City, Missouri, 64106.

January 20, 2005

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