The FAA has recently published a new airworthiness directive for Piper PA-28, PA-32, PA-34 and PA-44 aircraft that are fifteen years old or older to correct potentially unsafe conditions. The FAA estimates over 34,000 aircraft fall into this category.
The newly issued AD was prompted by reports of control cable assembly failures that “may lead to failure of the horizontal stabilator control system and could result in a loss of pitch control,” according to the FAA.
In a discussion posted to the Federal Register earlier this month, Deborah Hersman, Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) supported the directive, citing two related special airworthiness bulletins (SAIBs) advising inspection of the surface of each cable terminal, turnbuckle, or other fittings for corrosion or cracking.
It was noted that the NTSB investigated two accidents and one incident, all three of which specifically involved control cable assembly failures due to stress corrosion cracking, that led to failures of the horizontal stabilator control system. As these failures occurred within the time-frame following the related SAIBs, Hersman determined the SAIBs may have been ineffective and agreed with the necessity of the AD.
The AD stipulates inspections of the stabilator control system and the replacement of related parts as deemed necessary.
Effective March 11th 2013, the AD does not call for immediate inspection, but does call for all of the following:
- For all related aircraft that are at or exceed 15 years of age as of March 11th, 2013, inspection of the stabilator control system must be executed at the next annual inspection (or within the next 12 months after March 11, 2013).
- If the age of the aircraft is less than 15 years as of March 11th, 2013, inspection of the stabilator control system must take place at the next annual inspection after the aircraft reaches 15 years of age (or within 12 months of reaching this age).
- If the age of the aircraft cannot be determined, inspection of the stabilator control system must be executed at the next annual inspection (or within the next 12 months after March 11, 2013).
Note that Piper Aircraft, Inc. stands ready to help in determining the age of related aircraft and can be contacted at Piper Aircraft, Inc., 2916 Piper Drive, Vero Beach, Florida 32960; Tel. # (772) 567-4361; and via their website.
Additionally, the FAA airplane registry database can be accessed to search for aircraft details by serial number.
SAIBs are issued by the FAA when they are made aware of an aircraft safety concern and the issue is not seen as endemic to an entire fleet. An AD is issued when the FAA determines a particular problem poses an unsafe condition and there is reason to believe the issue may be more widespread. Compliance with FAA ADs is mandatory in most jurisdictions.
If your aircraft falls into the categories mentioned above for aircraft that are either at or older than 15 years of age, we recommend that you consult with your aircraft maintenance personnel to ensure compliance of your aircraft with the earlier SAIBs and/or schedule the related inspection to ensure the safe flying condition of your plane.
As Shoreline’s Ed Novak explains, “Piper Aircraft issued a Service Letter (#1135) in 2010 which is recommended at each annual inspection. It basically mirrors recommendations from the recent AD, but also includes all the other flight control cable system components (i.e. cables, pulleys, fairleads, etc.).
These Service Letters and SAIBs are something we pay close attention to and urge our clients to address during the annual inspections we perform at Shoreline.
For those who have followed our recommendations and adhered to previous service recommendations, the current AD provides credit for required actions completed prior to March 11, 2013 (the effective date of this AD), following Piper Aircraft, Inc. Mandatory Service Bulletin No.1245, dated May 3, 2012."
Shoreline Aviation is proud to be an authorized service center for Piper Aircraft maintenance and we routinely service all models designated by the above AD, in addition to all others including M-Class PA-46 Matrix, Mirage and Meridian models.
Our team of highly experienced aircraft maintenance professionals are at your service to answer any questions regarding this new AD—and our seasoned technicians have the expertise to execute all related inspections and repairs. For more information, please contact Ed Novak, Vice President & Director of Maintenance at (781) 834-4928
Learn more about our aircraft maintenance services here.