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FAA issues AD for PA-31 wire-chafing hazardFAA issues AD for PA-31 wire-chafing hazard

Editor's note: AOPA has updated the story to reflect the required inspection interval in accordance with the airworthiness directive.

The FAA has issued an airworthiness directive (AD) requiring repetitive detailed visual inspections of wiring below the main circuit breaker panel of certain Piper Aircraft PA-31T, PA-31T1, PA-31T2, PA-31T3, and PA-31P-350 airplanes. The condition had been the subject of a special airworthiness information bulletin issued in December.

Image courtesy of FAA.

The AD was published in the Federal Register Feb. 7, indicating that the FAA is continuing to issue ADs as necessary to meet safety concerns following a Jan. 20 executive order freezing new regulations. There had been some conflicting reports about the status of ADs after the regulatory freeze was announced.

The FAA issued the new AD, which takes effect Feb. 22, after determining that thermal damage had been found in the space below the main circuit breaker panel in the fatal crash of a PA-31T. In six other airplanes examined, all had “instances of wiring and hydraulic lines making direct contact and some of the airplanes showed signs of wiring rubbing or chafing adjacent structure or flammable fluid lines.”

“This condition, if not corrected, could lead to electrical arcing and a possible inflight fire in an area that is not accessible by the crew. We are issuing this AD to correct the unsafe condition on these products,” the AD says.

The AD calls for an initial inspection within 30 days and repetitive inspections at intervals not to exceed 12 months. The superseded special airworthiness information bulletin had called for the inspection to be conducted at the next scheduled maintenance. The AD also requires using mirrors and other equipment for the inspections, noting that the bulletin had specified using a magnifying glass, which would be difficult in the confined space where the examination must be conducted.

The FAA estimates that the AD will affect 335 U.S.-registered aircraft at a cost of $85 per inspection and $270 for replacement of wires, fluid lines, and terminals.

Although a public notice period did not precede the AD’s issuance, comments will be accepted until March 24 online or mailed to U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations,M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590. Please include docket number FAA-2017-0045 and Directorate Identifier 2017-CE-002-AD with your comments.

 

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Aircraft Regulation, FAA publications

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