The FAA is reaching out to owners of several models of older Piper single-engine airplanes as it analyzes possible causes of a recent accident involving in-flight rudder failure above the upper hinge on a Piper PA–12 on floats.
In an airworthiness concern sheet, the FAA is requesting information about rudder failures from operators of Piper single-engine airplane models J–5A, J–5B, J–5C, J–5D, AE–1, HE–1, PA–12, PA–12S, PA–14, PA–16, PA–18, L–21, PA–20, and PA–22 of all serial numbers.
The FAA has not determined whether the failed rudder, which was being examined in an NTSB laboratory, was original equipment or a replacement part. It cited several similar accidents and noted that the current type certificate holder of the PA–12 was aware of two other rudder structure failures.
Operators of the noted Piper models are requested to reply as provided in the ACS regarding any rudder failures observed, information about possible causes, suggested solutions, and any observed rudder vibrations and “any correlation with the presence or absence of a strobe or beacon on the top of the rudder.”
The FAA also noted that interviews conducted with some repair stations specializing in Cubs indicate that “a significant number of additional events may have occurred in the fleet of the long history of PA–18 and PA–12 airplanes.”