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Update: Continental explains engine issue, advises immediate inspection

Follows Cirrus grounding company SR22, SR22T fleet

Editor's note: This story was updated February 10 to include new information provided by Continental Aerospace Technologies.

Continental Aerospace Technologies issued more specific guidance February 10 to limit further flight of certain Continental 360-, 470-, 520-, and 550-series engines until an inspection confirms correct installation of a crankshaft counterweight retaining ring.

Photo by Chris Rose.

Continental issued a more detailed statement two days after Cirrus Aircraft sent a notice to Cirrus SR22 and SR22T owners (shared on social media) advising them on February 8 that the company had "just been informed by Continental of an issue that affects the engines that power both our SR22 and SR22T. While we are still working with Continental to determine the scope of the issue and specific serial number range of affected aircraft, we are proactively making the decision—out of an abundance of caution—to pause all internal Cirrus Aircraft company flight operations on SR22s and SR22Ts manufactured and issued a Certificate of Airworthiness from June 1, 2021, through February 7, 2023."

Continental's follow-up, attributed to an unnamed company representative, provided the first specific information about the cause of concern, extending from production engines to replacement crankshafts:

"Continental has identified a potential safety of flight issue for aircraft equipped with Continental 360, 470, 520, [and] 550 series engines and replacement crankshaft assemblies. Consequently, Continental is preemptively advising that an inspection should be performed to confirm that the crankshaft counterweight retaining ring was properly installed in new and rebuilt engines assembled between June 1, 2021, and February 7, 2023. This advice also applies to replacement crankshaft assemblies manufactured between June 1, 2021, through February 7, 2023.

"Continental proactively recommends that all flights powered by the aforementioned engines with less than 200 operating hours be limited to 5 additional flight hours with the essential crew to position the aircraft at a maintenance facility. To further clarify, Continental engines with over 200 hours may continue normal flight operations. A service bulletin with affected serial numbers will be forthcoming."

Cirrus reported on February 8 that it continues to operate SR20s without restriction, but the SR22 models are subject to a "pause" that includes all flight operations.

"Even though we are in the very early stages of working with Continental to gather more information, we wanted to proactively reach out to you now to let you know the decision we have made regarding flight operations for our company-owned and operated aircraft."

A Cirrus dealer reached by phone, Kenny Scherado, president of Lone Mountain Aviation in Las Vegas, said the issue has not led to an engine failure.

"They found it during an inspection," Scherado said.

About 700 aircraft were affected, FlightGlobal reported, though the exact number of aircraft is not likely to be known until Continental determines the specific serial numbers involved.

FAA officials told the media the agency is aware of the situation, though no immediate action was taken by the agency.

AOPA ePublishing staff
AOPA ePublishing Staff editors are experienced pilots, flight instructors, and aircraft owners who have a passion for bringing you the latest news and AOPA announcements.
Topics: Single-Engine Piston, Aircraft Maintenance

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