Apr. 8, 2004 - AOPA and five other organizations urgently need to hear from owners of 400-series twin Cessnas if there's to be any chance of mitigating the effects of two costly proposed airworthiness directives (ADs). At a two-day meeting with owners and operators held in March, the FAA agreed to delay issuing the ADs while industry collected additional information.
AOPA, the Cessna Pilots Association, Cessna Twin Spar Corp., Cessna Owners Organization, Twin Cessna Flyers, and Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association are working to mitigate the ADs' effects. There's a special Web site to collect fleet data and distribute relevant reference materials.
"AOPA strongly encourages all Cessna 400-series owners to participate in this survey," said AOPA Director of Regulatory and Certification Policy Luis Gutierrez. "The information gathered will help determine if the proposed ADs can be made less burdensome, compliance times increased, implementation schedule altered, and/or alternative means of compliance (AMOC) approved. AOPA also encourages the participation of other twin Cessna owners. Cessna is also developing similar spar strap modifications for its other 300- and 400-series piston twin models and could potentially ask the FAA for additional ADs applicable to those models."
The proposed ADs affect more than 1,500 Cessna 401, 401A, 401B, 402, 402A, 402B, 402C, 411, 411A, and 414A aircraft in the U.S. registry. They would require extensive wing-spar modifications. Compliance could take an estimated 485 man-hours and up to $70,000 per aircraft and could ground much of the fleet. Compliance actions require specialized tooling and highly skilled technicians. Only a few maintenance facilities are currently capable of performing the necessary work.
During a two-day meeting in March with those affected by the ADs, the FAA asked that industry collect information on time in service, inspection status, operational profiles, and other pertinent information from owners and operators.
The information gathered in this survey is essential to counter Cessna's engineering analysis that uses a single one-size-fits-all operational profile.
"Aircraft flown under Part 91 lead a far less stressful life than those in Part 135 service and are likely to have far less damage history in the wing-spar area than Part 135 airplanes," said Gutierrez.
The data gathered in this survey will help convince the FAA that the proposed compliance times for Part 91 airplanes should not necessarily be defined by the engineering analysis performed by Cessna that looked specifically at 402s in commercial service and supported by six or seven actual aircraft, all of which were Cessna 402s in commercial service.