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Super and Xtreme Decathlons updated to eliminate wing, aileron ADSuper and Xtreme Decathlons updated to eliminate wing, aileron AD

Redesigned wing structure addresses AD for two-seat taildraggersRedesigned wing structure addresses AD for two-seat taildraggers

The wait is over for Super Decathlon and Xtreme Decathlon aircraft owners who were temporarily grounded from performing aerobatic maneuvers in certain American Champion Aircraft. An updated wing design for new-production aircraft and a reinforcement kit for 8KCAB aircraft that were put into service after 2012 address an airworthiness directive for aileron hinge rib and support structures.

An American Champion Xtreme is in flight over the countryside. Photo by Chris Rose.

A July 21 news release said that American Champion is “providing the parts free of charge for the aircraft that have been delivered.” A special discounted installation rate is available for aircraft that return to the factory for the update. The release said new aircraft will be delivered with the reinforcements installed.

The restrictions put into place by an April 12 AD affected aerobatic aficionados who typically use the sprightly two-seat aircraft for training as well as competition. The AD required “fabrication and installation of a placard to prohibit aerobatic flight, inspection of the aileron hinge rib and support,” and reporting of inspection results to the FAA.

The company said that Super Decathlon and Xtreme Decathlon aircraft with exposed balance ailerons “will need to have the aileron hinge area inspected per AD 2017-07-10. Decathlon family aircraft equipped with spades are not affected, though inspections are recommended on an annual basis.”

The AD affects 61 aircraft; owners and maintenance providers can check serial numbers on the American Champion Aircraft website to see if Service Letter 442, which describes remedies, is applicable.

“We understand that the time required to analyze the problem and create a solution was frustrating for our owners, but we knew we needed to get this right,” wrote Jerry Mehlhaff Jr., the firm’s vice president of engineering. “It wasn’t good enough to develop a quick fix that would require limitations or that we felt wouldn’t deliver an experience worthy of our name. While it took us a hard few months, we’re proud to say this is the strongest Decathlon wing ever built.”

American Champion has delivered more than 1,200 aircraft since the company acquired type certificates for the Champion/Bellanca 7- and 8-series aircraft in 1988. The release said that the manufacturer is “dedicated to producing improved versions of these fun-to-fly, economical, and high-performance aircraft, as well as supporting classic models through a robust parts department.”

David Tulis

David Tulis

Associate Editor Web/ePilot
AOPA Associate Editor Web/ePilot David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a private pilot with single-engine land and sea ratings and a tailwheel endorsement. He is also a certificated remote pilot and co-host of the award-winning AOPA Hangar Talk podcast. David enjoys vintage aircraft and photography.
Topics: Airworthiness, Taildragger, Ownership

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