The FAA has proposed a $2,425,000 civil penalty against Cessna Aircraft Co. resulting from the separation in flight last December of carbon composite parts of a high-performance Cessna Corvalis’ wing.
The agency said Wichita, Kan.-based Cessna “failed to follow its FAA-approved quality control system when it manufactured the wings on the damaged airplane, as well as 82 additional parts,” in a Chihuahua, Mexico, factory.
The FAA said that on Dec. 6, 2010, “an FAA test pilot performing a production audit test flight in a Corvalis experienced a failure of the skin on the left wing. About seven feet of the left wing skin separated from the forward spar and damaged a fuel tank.” The pilot made an emergency landing at the Independence, Kan., airport.
An emergency airworthiness directive was issued Dec. 10, 2010, grounding 13 specific aircraft that used parts produced in the factory between Dec. 17, 2009, and Dec. 16, 2010.
Investigators “determined that the wing skin separated from the spar due to excessive humidity in the factory that prevented the bonded materials from curing properly.”
“Safety is our highest priority,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a Sept. 21 FAA news release. “We want to ensure that manufacturers are vigilant when it comes to aviation safety. There can be no exceptions.” FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt added that “manufacturers have to ensure that all the details are followed all of the time.”
Cessna would have 30 days from receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond, the FAA said.