The FAA and Pratt & Whitney Canada believe they have found the cause of three high-altitude double engine flameouts on Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5-powered Beechjets between mid-2004 and mid-2006.
In response to a thrust-lever quadrant failure in an Eclipse 500 on June 5, the FAA issued an emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD 2008-13-51) on June 12, calling for pilot inspection of quadrants and a report to the FAA of any problems found.
On July 24, the FAA issued an emergency order of revocation to LAB Flying Service of Juneau, Alaska, effectively shutting down the 52-year-old air carrier, which served Alaskans with a fleet of Piper singles and twins, a Britten-Norman Islander and Helio Courier.
Operators of about 1,100 Honeywell TFE731-2, -3 and -4 engines have until December 31 next year to replace fan rotor discs with improved ones under a new Airworthiness Directive (2001-23-09). The AD supersedes two previous directives that required the removal of certain older discs and established life limits on that disc series. Estimated cost for parts is $20,400 per engine.
The last few months have been difficult for a number of aviation players. First, there were several whistleblower complaints from FAA aviation safety inspectors who risked their futures to make serious allegations against their management in the southwest region. These allegations had been under investigation for some time when the U.S. Congress decided to hold hearings and have FAA senior management respond to them in a public forum.
The European Aviation Safety Agency has granted approval of a recent FAA-approved rotor blade tape installation STC for Robinson R22s and R44s. Airworthiness Directive 2007-26-12 was issued to address delamination of the helicopters’ main rotor blades.
The FAA on April 14 issued an Airworthiness Directive for all Bombardier Challengers, as well as the derivative CRJ100 and 440 regional jets, that requires revising the aircraft flight manuals to modify the cold-weather operations limitations and include additional limitations and procedures.
Airworthiness Directives (ADs) were in the news as I was writing this article as a major airline has admitted that it failed to comply with the ADs on a considerable number of aircraft. (See story on page 14 about the penalty imposed on Southwest.) Major media outlets have given the story a great deal of attention, providing the public a look into the world of maintenance and, according to one reporter, scaring some passengers to death.
After conducting an internal investigation, last month Southwest Airlines leaders switched from defending the airline’s maintenance practices to suspending three maintenance employees and grounding a significant number of airplanes to re-inspect them for possible cracks. The FAA issued a statement on March 6 proposing that Southwest Airlines pay a $10.2 million civil penalty for its error.
The FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive January 16 for PC-12s since some main landing-gear special bolts might be defective. Investigations revealed that bolts with a serial number that starts with “AT” might be brittle, decreasing the specific fatigue life and possibly leading to collapse of the main landing gear during operation with a consequent loss of airplane control.