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FAA explains alternative compliance for Piper wing spar AD

Owners of Piper PA–28 and PA–32 airplanes who had their aircraft inspected for wing spar cracking before an airworthiness directive issued in January made the inspections mandatory may still have some paperwork to do to show compliance with the AD.

AOPA file photo of a Piper Arrow. Photo by Mike Fizer.

Voluntary eddy current inspections of lower main wing spar bolt holes conducted before Airworthiness Directive 2020-26-26 was finalized on January 15 must be documented properly to count as compliance with the AD.

The next step for owners of aircraft subject to the AD’s inspection requirement is to submit an application for an alternative method of compliance (AMOC) that includes a report of the wing spar inspection to the FAA. The information package can be submitted by email.

To help aircraft owners navigate the AMOC application, the FAA asked industry partners including AOPA to circulate this guidance document that explains how to submit the request.

The FAA said it was circulating the guidance information because some owners and operators “chose to proactively and voluntarily inspect their aircraft” after the AD was proposed but before it was finalized. It also seemed prudent to get the word out “due to the anticipated volume of AMOC requests,” the FAA said in a message to aviation organizations.

“It is our belief that some of these owners and operators may not realize that these voluntary inspections do not constitute compliance with the AD since they were performed prior to the AD’s issuance and therefore require an Alternative Method of Compliance (AMOC) from the FAA,” the agency said. “We also believe that some of these individuals may not be familiar with the AMOC process.”

The AD, which affects certain PA–28-151, PA–28-161, PA–28-181, PA–28-235, PA–28R-180, PA–28R-200, PA–28R-201, PA–28R-201T, PA–28RT-201, PA–28RT-201T, PA-32–260, PA–32-300, PA–32R-300, PA–32RT-300, and PA–32RT-300T airplanes, was prompted by an April 2018 fatal accident of a flight school aircraft in Daytona Beach, Florida, in which the separation of a wing was linked to “fatigue cracking in a visually inaccessible area of the lower main wing spar cap.”

Only those aircraft that have reached a threshold of 5,000 “factored service hours” based on a formula prescribed in the AD, or that have had a main wing spar replaced, or have missing or incomplete maintenance logbooks are required to undergo the wing spar inspection.

The FAA estimates that the AD could affect 5,440 U.S.-registered aircraft.

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, Aircraft Regulation, Ownership

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