An airworthiness directive (AD) requiring the inspection and possible replacement of the pilot and copilot control wheel shafts on the Piper PA-28, PA-32, PA-34, and PA-44 could affect nearly 42,000 airplanes.
AOPA had filed formal comments in January opposing the AD, stating that the FAA needed to refine the number of aircraft that would be impacted because the amount of work and cost involved would place a burden on aircraft owners. AOPA members and Piper aircraft owners told the association that the disassembly and inspection of the control wheel shaft could take several hours and possibly damage the part in the process. The association pointed out that failure of the control wheel shaft in these aircraft has been rare.
While the FAA did not address most of AOPA’s concerns, it did offer a credit to those who had complied with an earlier service bulletin that encouraged the same action. The agency also adopted the recommendation from AOPA and aircraft owners to change the compliance date to the next 100-hours time in service or 12 months, whichever occurs first. The AD will go into effect Aug. 31.