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No harm, no foulNo harm, no foul

No harm, no foul

Piper Arrow

Arrow owners shouldn't have to pay for a 35-year-old minor goof by the FAA and Piper. That's the stand AOPA is taking on behalf of more than 1,500 PA-28R-200 owners, even if the fix is just $26.

The original type certificate included a limitation to "avoid continuous operation between 2,000-2,350 rpm." But when Piper wrote the pilot's operating handbook (POH) and marked the tachometer, it lopped off 100 rpm from the limits - making it 2,100 to 2,350 rpm.

For more than 35 years, nobody - not the FAA, not Piper - noticed. And it didn't cause any problems, either. "No service difficulty reports, no engine or prop failures, no accidents attributable to pilots operating the engine between 2,000 and 2,100 rpm," said Luis Gutierrez, AOPA director of regulatory and certification policy.

But now New Piper Aircraft wants the FAA to issue an airworthiness directive (AD) requiring owners to buy and install a Piper "Tachometer Limitation Placard Kit" and update the POH. Owners could also replace the tachometer, a much more expensive proposition.

While the original limitation was intended to avoid harmonic vibrations that could damage the engine or prop, "35 years of experience shows that there isn't a safety problem there," said Gutierrez.

Responding to an airworthiness concern notice, AOPA said that the FAA and Piper should revise the type certificate data sheets to reflect real-world experience or issue a special airworthiness information bulletin (SAIB) to advise owners about the change. (An SAIB is not mandatory and would not impose a cost on owners.)

"Or Piper could pay for the placard," said Gutierrez. "Arrow owners shouldn't have to pay for the FAA's and Piper's 35-year-old oversight."

July 13, 2006

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