Pilots say FAA action on Piper fuel selector unnecessary

AOPA is urging the FAA to use pilot education and outreach, not regulatory action, to address concerns that an early-design fuel selector used in some Piper PA–28 single-engine airplanes could be mispositioned during flight.

Graphic courtesy of the FAA.

Responses by members to AOPA’s request that pilots review and comment on an FAA airworthiness concern sheet about the fuel selectors shaped AOPA’s position, said David Oord, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs.

As we reported on Aug. 15, the FAA expressed concern that the fuel selector’s design does not include protection against “inadvertent disruption of the position of the lever from its intended position nor does it prevent over-rotation which could result in mistakenly selecting the OFF position when not intended.”

However, none of the comments AOPA received in writing and by phone expressed reservations about the fuel selector or reported operating difficulties, Oord informed the FAA in an Aug. 29 letter. It said AOPA could not support a mandated removal of the fuel selector or the required installation of a later-generation replacement.

Oord still urged pilots of aircraft using the first-generation fuel selector to maintain vigilance as to its position during flight.

Although all the comments AOPA received dismissed the idea that regulatory intervention would be useful, one also cautioned that such action might do more harm than good. “These aircraft have been in operation for more than 5 decades now with hundreds of thousands of safe operating hours. Mandating a mechanical solution to a perceived concern that I, nor anyone I have encountered, have NOT experienced would most likely force the grounding of hundreds if not thousands of sound, economical GA aircraft—unnecessarily,” it said.

As an alternative, AOPA recommends that the FAA “further its work to make owners aware of the issue through targeted education and outreach. AOPA stands ready and willing to help the agency in that effort,” Oord wrote.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

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 35-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, Ownership, Airworthiness

Related Articles