Proposed AD could have devastating effect on GA

WASHINGTON, D.C. — From the 1940s to the 1970s, Max Karant was a senior vice president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) who tirelessly and fearlessly fought for the interests of GA. Even though he frequently was blunt and sometimes vicious in his discussions with — and about — the FAA, most people respected him. In fact, on one occasion, an FAA official told me, “we weren’t always right, but he made us be right.”

On one of the lighter occasions, Max asked an FAA official how he got ideas for proposing and writing regulations. “Well,” replied the official, “I’m sitting in my office and I hear a booming voice say ‘write a rule.’ I say ‘yes sir, good or bad? And the voice replies ‘BAD.’”

That friendly exchange was good for a few moments of laughter, but the latest proposal from the FAA might have more serious consequences. That booming voice undoubtedly said BAD.

This is a proposed airworthiness directive (AD) to limit the allowable time-in-service on cylinders produced by Engine Components International (ECi) that are in more than 6,000 Continental engines. The estimated cost of compliance is $82.6 million.

Not only would enactment of the proposed rule have a devastating effect on owners of today’s aircraft, it could have an even greater impact on the entire general aviation world in the future.

A few of the secondary effects: It could raise the cost of new and used aircraft and it could mean shorter time between overhauls. It also could result in fewer aircraft available, as the lack of replacement parts could ground an entire group of aircraft. Rob Hackman, a vice president for regulations at AOPA, and Dick Knapinski, senior communications advisor at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), point out these and other concerns.

And on what is the proposed regulation based? Alleged problems in 30 instances out of more than 30,000 cylinders installed. This comes out to 1/100th of 1%. Add to this the lack of evidence that shows even one accident attributed to the alleged problem.

Officials with all of GA’s alphabet groups want more information before filing their formal comments. The FAA needs to be more forthcoming with information, says Hackman. EAA and AOPA are exploring avenues for getting more information, including asking for public hearings. Another is to ask for an extension on the date comments are due to the FAA. Currently, Oct. 11, 2013, is the deadline for comments. (Comments can be made at

The proposed AD is based on recommendations from the NTSB. NTSB recommendations are just that — recommendations. They have no governmental or legal authority.

To paraphrase the jokester who said the way to eliminate mid-air collisions is to allow only one plane in the sky at a time, the only way to avoid engine parts problems is to allow only gliders in the air. Then, some government official would have to form an agency to figure out to get those safe vehicles in the air.


  1. Michael Dean says

    The 8 scariest words in the Eglish language; “I’m from the government. I’m here to help.” – Ronald Reagan

    • says

      Mike; my “advise” to young people or others who wish to go into business for themselves: How quickly can “government” put you OUT of BUSINESS – that’s how much time you have to be in business!

  2. pilotman says

    That proposed AD is akin to ” get the axe-there’s a fly on the babies head” Even if a cylinder fails it should rarely cause an accident. BTW, 30 out of 30,000 = 1 out of 1,000 = 1/10 of 1%. ( 1 out of 100 =1 % )

  3. says

    As to who is to benefit from this AD, Continental engine, is not much more expensive for replacement parts. They issued a statement that the AD does not affect their cylinders as many pilots don’t think about whose cylinders (or other components) are on their engines. Is it possible that T.C.M. would encourage this AD to sell more of their cylinders ? maybe. Is it likely that an overly litigious society run by attorneys for attorneys is the cause of such an all encompassing AD, yes. Until we as a nation start to once again take responsibility for ourselves and accept that sometimes thing “just happen” we will all have to endure the high cost of our civil-suit driven economy. How many “learn to fly” or other pro-aviation adds do you see on T.V.? Now how many adds for the office of “Dewie, Cheatem, and Howe., or “It’s my money and I want it ***” ?

  4. Jscott says

    Another part of the FAAs accident prevention program accomplished by grounding all aircraft and making the rest unaffordable. Your government working for you.

  5. says

    This is of great concern and it is nice to know that we have organizations and lobbyists read to apply some common sense.
    Did the canary just die? Is the sky falling? What is next? Is GA is reaping the final rewards of some very old engines and airframes? When will the next AD come?
    I am reminded of a company that sells emergency generators and tools after a hurricane. Where there are losers there are winners. Who is the winner here? At what point in time will cash strapped parts and aircraft companies be on the other side of this table?
    Just saying…Don’t kill the messenger.

    • Richard says

      Barry, Common Sense is something foreign tyo the FAA and other Federal Bureaucracies. This proposed AD is proof os that as is the no 3rd class physical proposal that lanquishes on the desk of the FAA.

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