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Maintenance problems for older aircraft?

Maintenance problems for older aircraft?

Are maintenance shops refusing to work on older aircraft? It's not a widespread problem, but the few isolated cases that have sprung up mean that AOPA must maintain a close watch on the issue.

It started last August when one chain of FBOs in the West told customers it would no longer work on aircraft older than 18 years. Several other shops have reportedly taken the same position.

"This is strictly a business decision by these FBOs," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. "One insurance company offers a discount if the shop won't accept older aircraft. But all companies will still write insurance allowing a shop to work on any age aircraft."

Because the General Aviation Revitalization Act protects manufacturers from most lawsuits on aircraft older than 18 years, there is a perception that the next set of "deep pockets" for the attorneys to attack are the maintenance shops. Some shops have decided to save a little money on insurance by refusing to work on older aircraft.

But when you consider that 82 percent of the piston-engine fleet is more than 18 years old, it seems highly unlikely that most shops are going reject working on some 55,000 aircraft to compete for servicing the 10,000 manufactured within the last two decades.

"Nevertheless, AOPA will do whatever it takes to help defend our members' ability to maintain and fly their aircraft," said Cebula.

January 8, 2007

Topics: Aircraft Maintenance, Ownership, Aviation Industry

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