FAA puts plan for extra inspections to public

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The US Federal Aviation Admini­stration is to hold public meetings in Kansas City, Missouri this month to discuss the introduction of supplementary inspections, following the discovery of cracks in general aviation aircraft.

The meetings, on 22 and 23 March, follow the early results of an FAA-funded Wichita State University Aging Aircraft Laboratory study, which began in 2002 and ends in October 2007, that discovered significant cracking and corrosion in three ageing GA aircraft types.

As a result, the FAA wants to bring in more frequent inspections for the 200,000 GA aircraft in the USA. “There is no timetable for the rules. We are talking to owners and operators about supplementary inspection, about how we bring that in,” says Aging Aircraft Laboratory director Dale Cope. The three aircraft were a 1969 Cessna 402A, 1979 Cessna 402C and a 1975 Piper Navajo Chieftain. A fourth aircraft, a Beechcraft 1900D, is the focus of a current study.

The non-destructive inspections found cracking in the 402A’s wing auxiliary spars and the nose gear steering bell; the 402C’s left-wing outboard rib and the engine beam structure; and the Navajo’s left and right wing, fuselage and horizontal and vertical stabilisers.

Both Cessnas had moderate to severe corrosion in a number of areas. The 402A was used for Grand Canyon tours, the 402C for short island flights, while the Navajo had operated in Alaska and Las Vegas.

ROB COPPINGER / LONDON