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EAA Continues Efforts To Make Vintage Aircraft Safer, More Affordable

FAQs Developed On New Draft Proposal

March 29, 2006 — Last week's two-day FAA Aging Aircraft Summit in Overland Park, Kansas, brought together industry and concerned individuals to discuss problems associated with the general aviation fleet's increasing average age. The FAA is especially interested in actions that may mitigate the effects of fatigue, corrosion, and deterioration on aging GA airplanes. EAA and VAA's presence served a twofold purpose; to represent their concerned members plus present a draft proposal to create a new aircraft category for vintage aircraft.

Day 2 featured smaller group sessions intended to further define the key issues that need to be addressed by the FAA and the public. (Read about Day 1.) The summit also elicited a number of new questions regarding the EAA/VAA draft proposal EAA has since developed an FAQ/background document that answers many of these questions and better explains many issues surrounding aging aircraft.

More than 170 people attended the summit, representing industry, associations, and concerned individual aircraft owners and pilots-all wanting to be heard as the FAA considers the next steps needed to address the issues.

Type clubs were well represented, including members from the Cessna Pilot's Association, Twin Comanche Club, the American Bonanza Society, and the Cessna 120/140 Club. Type Club representatives have continually expressed concerns about the availability of restoration and maintenance data during the annual Type Club/FAA meeting held at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

At the end of the day, the room was split into two groups for in-depth discussions resulting in a broad list of concerns.

Ed Chalpin, Jr. of the Policy and Procedures section of the FAA's Aircraft Certification Service, presented information on orphaned aircraft type certificate data and designing policies for manufacturers who decide to surrender or abandon a type certificate. FAA intends to have a draft document by the fall of 2006, with a final version issued by December 2006.

FAA's plan is to examine the overall structure of how the FAA supports TCs and orphan TCs. Unfortunately, current policy only surveys active TCs, while inactive or abandoned TCs are a side issue. EAA and VAA hopes to elevate the survey of the older type certificates to a higher priority so we may have a better idea exactly how much of that data is still in FAA storage.

During the smaller group sessions, 36 issues were defined by the attendees, and of those 36, the following six were designated for work by an ad-hoc committee of volunteer chairmen and volunteers working with the appropriate FAA personnel:

  • Define the term "Aging" as it applies to aircraft. Chairman - Earl Lawrence, EAA
  • Address issues of operation in more aggressive fatigue spectrums (operating near the limits) a. How do we determine and track the history of a specific airplane? b. What do we do with the data when we get it? c. With respect to "aging," do we treat airplanes differently according to their usage? If so, how? Chairman - Chris Burns
  • Improve quality of education/training WRT maintenance/inspection for technicians, operators and owners on aging aircraft issues. How do we ensure that the appropriate people (owners, maintainers, etc) take full responsibility for compliance? Chairman, Brian Finnegan-Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA)
  • How do we address the availability of data? Allow type clubs to develop SRMs/inspection documents, simplify field approval (repair data) process/access including 337 library. Chairman - David Lowe, Int. Cessna 120/140 Assoc. Improve availability of type design data (including orphan aircraft). Chairman - H.G. Frautschy-Vintage Aircraft Association
  • How do we address the availability-of-parts issues? Streamline PMA process and improve parts/material substitution. Chairman - Ric Peri-Aircraft Electronics Assoc. (AEA)
  • Improve the Service Difficulty Reports (SDR) process (data capture). Chairman - Jens Hennig-General Aviation Manufacturers Assoc. (GAMA)

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