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FAA finalizes ECi AD despite industrywide oppositionFAA finalizes ECi AD despite industrywide opposition

The FAA published a final rule in the Federal Register Aug. 11 that requires the removal of certain Engine Components International Division (ECi) cylinders produced by Danbury Aerospace on Continental engine models -520 and -550 reciprocating engines and on engine models approved for the use of those cylinder assemblies by supplemental type certificate, like the model -470. The airworthiness directive, which also includes overhauled cylinder assemblies, affects about 6,200 engines and will cost about $11,520 per engine to comply. It will go into effect Sept. 15.

The cylinders affected were produced between September 2002 and June 2009 before Continental Motors Group purchased the company in 2015. Continental “has never produced, sold or supported the cylinders” and was not “involved in the design, production, or distribution” of the affected cylinders, the company said in a press release to correct an error in the FAA’s final rule. Continental said it offers cylinders that can be used as a replacement for the assemblies affected by the AD.

AOPA has strongly opposed the airworthiness directive for three years because the data cited by the FAA does not justify the cost, appropriately address safety concerns, or follow the National Transportation Safety Board’s original recommendation for a conservative approach in addressing the issue for the thousands of affected engines.

The FAA cited a total of 82 cylinder failures in 11 years of operational history and two fatal accidents attributed to those failures. While the ECi cylinders are failing at a rate higher than that of other manufacturers’ cylinders, they do not rise above the point that warrants an AD. AOPA believes the FAA should allow the cylinders to go to the manufacturer’s recommended time between overhauls rather than requiring early retirement.

“We strongly support safety, but this AD goes too far,” said David Oord, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs. “This represents a risk aversion versus proper risk management and is overly burdensome and costly for aircraft owners to comply.”

The AD requires that affected cylinder assemblies with 680 or fewer operating hours time-in-service (TIS) since new on Sept. 15 be removed from service “before reaching 1,000 operating hours TIS since new.” Affected assemblies with 680 operating hours TIS since new and 1,000 or fewer operating hours TIS since new would need to be removed from service “within the next 320 operating hours TIS or within 1,160 operating hours TIS since new, whichever occurs first.” Those with more than 1,000 operating hours TIS since new must be removed from service “within the next 160 operating hours or at next engine overhaul, whichever occurs first.” Affected cylinder assemblies that have been overhauled must be removed from service within the next 80 operating hours TIS after Sept. 15.

“AOPA will be exploring any and all possible avenues for an alternative means of compliance to best represent our members’ interests,” Oord said.

Topics: Advocacy, Airworthiness Directives, Aircraft Regulation

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