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FAA Implements EAA-Suggested Changes to Piper Airworthiness Directive
June 11, 2020 – The FAA announced changes to a proposed airworthiness directive regarding certain models of Piper PA-28 and PA-32 in response to comments made by EAA and many other GA stakeholders in early 2019.
The proposed AD, which addressed wing spar issues following a tragic accident at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, was first promulgated in December 2018. EAA filed comments expressing concerns that the AD was overly broad, required more nuance in its formula to determine whether eddy current inspections were necessary, and underestimated the cost of those inspections.
EAA requested that the agency work with Piper to determine which aircraft, both in terms of model numbers and individual aircraft service records, would necessitate inspection. The supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking put forth by the FAA added three models and removed five, which ultimately removed roughly 8,800 total airframes from the original group of more than 20,000, and points to a Piper service bulletin for the eddy current inspection procedures.
Additionally, the FAA clarified that only 100-hour inspections done to comply with 14 CFR 91.409(b) will count toward determining which aircraft have enough service hours to mandate inspection. Previously, there was some question if owners and operators who were not mandated to undergo 100-hour inspections but who did anyway would be subject to these mandatory inspections, even if they did not use their aircraft for flight instruction or for-hire carrying operations. The cost estimate for the service was also adjusted from $85 an hour to a more realistic total of $600. Both of these were specific concerns raised in EAA's comments.
While EAA always acknowledged the seriousness of potential wing spar failures, any action to address them needs to be correctly targeted and well-considered. The SNPRM is open for comments until July 20, 2020, and EAA is carefully analyzing it and will comment as is appropriate.