After reviewing input from the industry, the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB), and numerous submitted comments from owners and operators, FAA has informed EAA it will issue an Emergency Airworthiness Directive as soon as today mandating inspections for cracks in the lower wing attach angles the T-6/SNJ fleet. EAA and EAA Warbirds of America (WOA), led by Rick Seigfried, WOA Board member and designated representative on the issue, are actively working the case that stems from a May 9 T-6/SNJ wing failure.
Based on this feedback, along with the feedback responding to the May 25 Airworthiness Concern Sheet (ACS), EAA and WOA have come to the conclusion that, the inspections are warranted. However, EAA and WOA propose the following suggestions to the FAA:
• The initial airworthiness directive (AD) should NOT be repetitive. Instead, all owners/operators should be required to perform a dye penetrant inspection, upon completion of which the results, serial number, model number, total time of the airframe and the average hours flown for the last five years should be reported back to the FAA.
• A modified version of the South African inspection should be used, not the identical version. (Under development by Rick Seigfried and others.)
• Florescent dye penetrant should not be required but should be allowed as an alternate to non-florescent.
• Alodine should be listed as an appropriate alternative to paint for corrosion protection following the dye penetrant inspection.
• The AD should allow aircraft to fly in the normal category for up to 10 hours for relocation to its home base and/or maintenance facility without having to obtain a ferry permit.
• The AD should not require an inspection if one was conducted on the aircraft within the preceding 12 calendar months, and if less than 200 hours have been accumulated since the last inspection.
• The AD should call for annual removal of the wing joint bolting angle cover and the visual inspection for cracks and corrosion of the wing joint bolting angle.
EAA and WOA are concerned that the agency may establish required repetitive inspection intervals without sufficient data to support them. EAA and WOA urge the FAA to first allow the initial fleet inspection to occur, then study the accumulated data and service life of the fleet, and then render a decision as to what - if any - repetitive inspection interval is needed.
“Based on all the information EAA and WOA have received to date, the accident that prompted this proposed AD was not due to any corrosion, excessive G maneuvers, poor maintenance, or ground damage,” said Earl Lawrence, vice president industry and regulatory affairs. “The preliminary information is that the failure was a result of a fatigue crack. ‘Preliminary’ means we do not know positively yet and more research needs to be done. “EAA and WOA will continue to work with the North American Trainer Association, the T-6 community, and the FAA to try to answer these questions.”
Both EAA and WOA express concern with the larger issue of mock air-combat and aerobatic training activities in aircraft. Speaking on behalf of both organizations, Lawrence commented, “We have a concern that this particular failure, and other similar ones, is a result of aircraft seeing higher and more repetitive stresses than they were designed for. We assert that the larger issue is the need to address these high stress operations of aircraft as opposed to implementing new inspection procedures on an entire fleet of aircraft.”
While acknowledging the need to address the current issue at hand, Lawrence stresses that we are willing and able to address what we believe is the real and long- term solution; the establishment of standards for the use of aircraft in mock air-combat and or other high stress aerobatic operations.
EAA and WOA will continue to work this issue even after the expected release of the Emergency AD. Please continue to send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or fax - 920/426-6560.
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