The other shoe has dropped. The FAA today issued a notice of proposed rulemaking saying that it intends to issue an airworthiness directive that would make an earlier Lycoming Engines service bulletin mandatory for all operators. That service bulletin calls for replacing the crankshaft in certain 360 and 540 engines of 300 horsepower or less.
The FAA says 12 crankshafts have failed in these lower-powered engines, echoing a problem of three years ago in the higher-horsepower turbo-charged Lycoming 540 engines. The AD would require replacing crankshafts made using a hammer-forged process with crankshafts manufactured using a press-forged process.
Some 1,128 engines installed on U.S.-registered aircraft would need to be repaired. The affected airframes range from Aerostars to Socata Trinidads, but Lycoming told AOPA that the bulk of the affected aircraft are Robinson R-44 helicopters and late-model Cessna 182s.
If your engine was manufactured before March 1, 1999 (and you haven't had the crankshaft replaced), you don't need to worry.
Otherwise, you should check your engine data plate and the service bulletin or NPRM carefully to see if your engine is included on the list.
The FAA estimates that it will cost about $16,000 per engine to do the repair. But Lycoming has already said that it will pay for replacing the crankshaft at the factory, shipping costs, and reasonable costs for uninstalling and reinstalling the engine.
"Three years ago, Lycoming did a good job, in most cases, in covering reasonable expenses and getting claims processed," said Woody Cahall, AOPA vice president of aviation services. This time, Lycoming tells AOPA that it has enough parts on hand to repair all the affected engines. The company says it should take them about 10 days to do the work once the engine arrives at their Williamsport, Pennsylvania, factory.
"But owners should let us know if they encounter any problems," said Cahall. "They can call the AOPA Pilot Information Center (800/872-2672) for more information."
The proposed AD calls for compliance within the next 50 hours or 6 months, whichever comes first.
The FAA will accept comments on the proposal until August 22.
See also AOPA's issue brief.
July 22, 2005