AOPA wants to make it perfectly clear to the FAA: Older general aviation aircraft are still safe. Life limits or other mandatory regulations aren't needed.
"One troubling theory expressed at [the Aging Aircraft] meeting is the notion that the aging GA fleet poses an increasing threat to aviation safety. This is simply not true," AOPA told FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Nicholas Sabatini.
"A review by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation shows that the problem of mechanical or maintenance failure due to age is actually declining," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs.
Cebula credited efforts by the FAA and AOPA to educate pilots and owners on maintenance issues for the "39-percent reduction in the number of mechanically related accidents over the past 20 years, despite an increase in the average age of the general aviation fleet."
He noted that the FAA's " Best Practices Guide for Maintaining Aging General Aviation Airplanes" had been developed in coordination with AOPA and others, and that it is "a perfect example of how useful guidance and tips for owners to assess the effects of aging on their airplanes are contributing to address the FAA's concern over the safety of the fleet."
AOPA called on the FAA to develop "maintenance-friendly" policies, such as allowing the use of "acceptable" data as "approved" data for airplane major alterations and for vintage airplane material and part substitutions. That is critical for "orphan" aircraft for which there is no longer a manufacturer to develop specific "approved" data for repairs and alterations.
"AOPA is committed to safety. That is why we ask that the FAA continue to pursue a non-regulatory approach to ensuring the continued airworthiness of the aging general aviation fleet that is data driven and based on sound risk management practices that will yield affordable solutions," said Cebula.
April 20, 2006