Two days of meetings between aviation industry representatives and government officials resumed discussions from a prior session of ways the parties can work together to find the best solutions to airworthiness concerns that arise with aircraft engines.
David Oord, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs, attended the second GA Engine Summit Sept. 12 and 13 at the FAA’s Policy and Innovation Division in Boston, Massachusetts, joining representatives of industry associations, the National Transportation Safety Board, aircraft owners’ groups, and engine and component manufacturers in wide-ranging discussions.
Experience demonstrates that when an airworthiness concern has been identified, industry and government stakeholders must work together and communicate openly and effectively from the earliest stages of addressing the problem, Oord said.
Achieving that goal enhances the quality of information available to decision makers when the review of an airworthiness concern—that could ultimately result in the issuing of an airworthiness directive—moves to a possible action recommendation by a corrective action review board.
Oord noted that a proven method of achieving the goal of producing accurate data through open communications is the airworthiness concern process that begins with the circulation of an airworthiness concern sheet (ACS).
An ACS affords aircraft owners and operators the opportunity to enter into a dialog with the FAA and applicable manufacturer and provide input into what mitigating actions might be necessary to remedy an airworthiness concern.
The process provides AOPA, aircraft type clubs, and other organizations an opportunity to analyze potential concerns; report on and describe any occurrences; and recommend the safest, most economical means of mitigation, while providing the FAA with a direct link to the expertise of those who participate.
A recently issued ACS worked well in a case in which camshaft gear-tooth failures in Continental Motors IO-520/550 and some IO-470 engines might have been dealt with through costly and mandatory inspection and replacement requirements. After several rounds of discussions with users, however, the talks and data evaluation resulted in a revised service bulletin being issued by the manufacturer, and the FAA announcing that it would not pursue an AD in the matter.
“There was a good discussion on the need for operational data to better understand an issue and to emphasize that data/information should be openly shared to better understand the scope of the issue and target mitigations to limit their impact,” Oord said.
The meeting concluded with a commitment to hold future GA summit meetings on an annual basis.