Jan. 13, 2004 - AOPA and the T-34 Association are telling the FAA that the proposed timeframe for owners of Beechcraft T-34 Mentors to comply with an airworthiness concern is too short and needs to be extended.
The FAA issued an Airworthiness Concern Sheet (ACS) following a recent fatal T-34 accident involving a wing-spar failure. The FAA also issued Flight Standards Information Bulletin FSAW 03-11, Special Inspection for T-34 Mentor Aircraft, which requires each flight standards district office to inspect every T-34 in its district for compliance with an earlier wing spar airworthiness directive ( 2001-13-18), annual or 100-hour inspection, and general aircraft condition. The FAA also intends to require owners to comply with Raytheon Service Bulletin SB57-3329. But doing so could mean owners would not be able to utilize the alternate means of compliance currently under development.
But the T-34 association told the FAA that all of the wing-spar failures involved aircraft that are used for simulated combat flight or "upset" training, which involve much greater stresses than the more normal flight operations that the majority of T-34s are used for.
Both AOPA and the T-34 Association have told the agency that the 20-flight-hour or 30-day time limit is unnecessarily short. "The resulting demand on the limited number of providers capable of performing the inspections could lead to a considerable number of aircraft unable to comply in this narrow timeframe," wrote Rob Hackman, AOPA's manager of Regulatory and Certification Policy.
Hackman also pointed out that the original wing-spar AD gave owners a 200-hour extension in which to comply but that the ACS apparently makes no provision for that extension. "We would ask that a provision allowing these aircraft to continue flying be considered in any action taken by the FAA," wrote Hackman.
The T-34 Association has developed an airworthiness status checklist to help owners prepare for the upcoming FAA inspections.
The Airworthiness Concern process was developed jointly by the FAA and aviation industry to allow the agency to collect preliminary information from the industry before determining the best way to address airworthiness issues.