The FAA has published its revised airworthiness directive on turbocharged twin-engine Cessnas ( AD 2000-01-16). The final rule incorporates most of the revisions advocated by AOPA. [See also AOPA's comments and regulatory brief.]
"We've gone from an 'emergency' AD that would have cost owners tens of the thousands of dollars, grounded hundreds of airplanes, and ruined many small businesses, to a solid regulation that will keep these airplanes safe and that most owners should find more affordable," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "This demonstrates what can happen when the FAA takes advantage of the knowledge and expertise available in the general aviation community."
The FAA praised the quality of comments received on the AD, saying the specific information on how the rule impacted owners and operators, and specific technical information on the maintenance and repair of the exhaust system, helped the FAA craft the revised rule. A senior FAA official specifically praised AOPA's unprecedented mailing of some 6,000 "Action Alerts" to owners of Cessna 300/400-series turbocharged twins, whether AOPA members or not. The association had urged owners to tell the FAA about alternative means of compliance and the economic impact of the AD, especially on small businesses and commercial operators.
The revised AD incorporates much of the alternative AD developed by the Cessna Pilots Association (CPA) and endorsed by AOPA. Highlights include a visual inspection of the exhaust system every 50 hours, a pressure check every 100 hours, the removal and cleaning of tailpipes, inspection of engine beams and bulkheads adjacent to exhaust systems, and other inspection and replacement routines to ensure exhaust system integrity. For full details, see the AD.
The revised AD also allows any FAA-approved exhaust repair facility to work on turbocharged twin-engine Cessna systems (the original AD had specified only three shops nationwide), does not require removal of the exhaust system for inspection, and sets a compliance schedule that coincides with regularly scheduled maintenance.
AOPA is pleased that the FAA has substantially reduced the impact of this AD on aircraft owners but is disappointed that the FAA was unable to determine the economic impact of aircraft downtime on small businesses while aircraft are out of service for AD compliance. AOPA staff is carefully analyzing the provisions of the AD and will be submitting additional comments prior to the closure of the comment period.
January 19, 2000