Organisations representing operators of over 40 aircraft types will meet on 10 July to discuss new US Federal Aviation Administration guidelines to improve the airworthiness directive (AD) process.

In a bid to resolve general-aviation community concerns over unnecessary or impractical ADs, the FAA has drafted a handbook that directs its aircraft certification offices to solicit input from operator groups when developing ADs. The guide also establishes a formalised "risk assessment" to determine what airworthiness action is required, and how quickly.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has organised the July meeting to review with the FAA its final draft of the handbook, which is due to be released at the Oshkosh show in August.

Currently, the FAA invites comment from operator groups after it has developed an AD, when it issues a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). Frequently, ADs are modified as a result of operator input. The new process seeks to avoid overly burdensome ADs by tapping user community knowledge during development of an airworthiness action. This should also make it easier to identify alternative, cheaper means of compliance.

• The FAA has modified a proposed AD on Lake Amphibians after comments on the NPRM by AOPA and the Seaplane Pilots Association. A costly requirement to remove the wing for dye-penetrant inspection of spar caps for cracks has been eliminated. The modified AD calls for visual inspection of external spar doublers.

Since issuing the NPRM, however, cracks have been found in an aircraft with only 270h in service, so the FAA has reduced the compliance time on the AD, requiring all aircraft to be inspected within 50h or 12 months.

Source: Flight International