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EAA Helps Out Stemme Motorglider Owners

Marty Hellman

January 22, 2009 — In the summer of 2008 Thierry Thys (EAA 201819) of Oakland, California, and members of the Stemme Motorgliders Owners Group (SOG) discovered a potentially expensive barrier between them and their passion for flying. Written subtly in the Stemme owner’s manual was a provision that required a mandatory time between overhaul (TBO) of 1,000/1,200 operation hours and 10/12 years from first operation of the Rotax 914 FS/21 engine. “This requirement went unnoticed by most of us until the 10-year point began to approach for some of our members,” Thys said. “While most other aircraft TBOs are a recommendation, the rule for the Stemmi was mandatory.”

Thys and SOG members began to draft a petition to be sent to the FAA requesting an exemption from the existing rule, stating that motor glider engines rarely exceed 300 operation hours before reaching 10-12 years in service, and noting the cost and inconvenience of removal, overhaul and reinstallation. Thys then contacted EAA for expertise, advice, and help with his project.

“I was able to offer Thierry my recommendations to improve his petition,” said Randy Hansen, EAA government relations director. “Because of the complexity of the FAA, it can be confusing to seek resolution of a problem like this. By belonging to an aviation association like EAA, these individuals have the ability to reach out for assistance in guiding them through the FAA procedures and processes and thus are able to become active members in trying to fix the problems affecting them.”

During the petition process, Thys and SOG members also began to pressure the German manufacturer to rewrite its TBO policy. “It turns out that the German-made Stemme uses an Austrian-built engine. Trying to get our petition through all of those separate government agencies seemed like an impossible task.”

Then, on Christmas Day, Thys received a notice from the German manufacturer stating that the ruling in the owner’s manual had changed in favor of their request. “We received this news before we ever even sent our petition to the FAA,” Thys said. “Our hard work paid off, and EAA really stepped forward and guided us when we needed them.”

Hansen added, “Individuals within the aviation community are at the forefront of discovering problems and issues affecting their specific flight operations. Thierry is an excellent example of what happens when the aviation community bands together to improve a specific aeronautical process, thus making aviation more accessible and affordable for today and tomorrow’s aviation enthusiasts.”

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