Proposed AD Demands Removal of Thousands of ECI Titan Cylinders
August 12, 2013 - The FAA has issued a proposed AD requiring the early retirement of thousands of ECI Titan cylinders used on Continental big bore engines. The FAA estimates the total bill for airplane owners would top $82 million if the AD becomes final.
The FAA says the AD would address problems of cylinder head cracking or cylinder head-to-barrel separation in the ECI cylinders that are manufactured under parts manufacturing authority (PMA). Depending on cylinder serial number group the AD, if it becomes final, would require ECI cylinders to be replaced with 25 flight hours if the cylinder has fewer than 500 hours or more than 1,000 hours. Cylinders in another serial number range must be replaced within 25 flight hours if they have more than 1,000 hours' time in service.
The ECI cylinders covered by the proposed AD are installed on Continental 520 and 550 engines, and in a rare situation, on 470 engines. The FAA does not know how many engines would be affected by the AD because ECI cylinders could be installed on an engine along with cylinders from other manufacturers. The FAA estimate is that about 6,000 Continental engines have one or more ECI cylinders installed. The big bore Continental six-cylinder engines power a long list of popular airplanes.
The proposed AD does not cite specific failure rates, or even cite a total number of ECI cylinder failures. The AD uses terms such as "multiple failure reports" and does not point to a single accident or injury caused by the failure of any ECI cylinder.
The FAA is accepting comments on the proposed AD until October 11, only a 60-day window. You can read the proposed AD, which contains information on how to comment.
EAA, along with other aviation groups, is at work formulating a response to the proposed AD and will issue a call for action soon. An important first step will be to insist on a comment period extension given the very high cost of the proposed AD, and the almost impossibility of finding enough cylinders to replace the ECI units if the AD were to become law.