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Loose 787 cockpit seat spurs FAA replacement call

Updated with comment from Ipeco

A Boeing 787 captain’s seat came loose during a landing rollout, prompting the US Federal Aviation Administration to propose requiring operators to replace both crew seats in the cockpit.

A notice of proposed rulemaking released on 7 March by the FAA would require 787 operators to replace each of the $15,141 crew seats within three years.

The FAA is giving 787 operators and the manufacturer six weeks to submit any comments about the proposal before a final rule is issued.

Boeing has already advised 787 operators to replace the crew seats in an alert service bulletin issued in December 2014. The FAA rule, if adopted, would make the change mandatory within a three-year window.

Boeing selected UK-based Ipeco to supply the crew seats for the 787-8 in 2005.

The 787-8 entered service in October 2011 with All Nippon Airways.

But the FAA received a report that a “captain’s seat moved uncommanded during a landing rollout due to a failure in the seat horizontal actuator”, the agency says in the 7 March notice.

An investigation determined it was not a fluke event, but a flaw in the design.

“Press fit clutch pins in the actuator could migrate loose when subjected to repeated dynamic impact loading,” the proposed rule says. “The clutch pins can migrate loose, overturn, and force clutch plate separation, resulting in degraded or failed seat locking.”

The rule would require operators to inspect the crew seats within 1,000 flight hours if the proposal takes effect.

The seats must be replaced within 72 months after the rule takes effect, according to the notice.

The FAA estimates the cost to replace both seats is a total of $30,282 per aircraft, plus two work hours costing a total of $170 per 787-8.

No comments on the proposed rule had been received by the agency as of 11 March.

Ipeco tells Flightglobal that the operator does not have to replace the seat, but rather the actuators on the seat only. It adds that the estimated spares replacement costs reported by the FAA are not applicable since the spares are being provided by Ipeco free of charge to all customers. Ipeco says it has already supplied replacement actuators for over 50% of the 787 aircraft affected in advance of this AD and also paid for labour charges to replace the actuators.

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