The FAA is proposing a new airworthiness directive (AD) for Piper PA-28, -32 and -44 series airplanes that would require an inspection of the control wheel shaft for both the pilot and copilot sides and, if necessary, replacement of the control wheel shaft. FAA officials estimate the AD could affect as many as 41,298 airplanes.
The proposed AD results from two field reports of incorrectly assembled control wheel shafts, according to FAA officials. “We are proposing this AD to detect and correct any incorrectly assembled control wheel shafts,” the notice of proposed rule making states. “This condition, if left uncorrected, could lead to separation of the control wheel shaft, resulting in loss of pitch and roll control.”
The notice continues: “We have received two reports of control wheel shafts that have been incorrectly assembled at Piper. The first incident concerned the loss of the control wheel on a Piper Model PA-34-220T airplane, where the right-hand control wheel shaft and universal joint separated due to a misdrilled hole for the threaded taper pin. The second report was of a ground inspection on a Piper PA-34-220T airplane that revealed a similar situation between the control wheel shaft and the universal joint in the left-hand side. Investigation following these reports revealed that the control wheel shafts had been incorrectly assembled at Piper and holes were misdrilled even though they may visually appear acceptable. The hole in the shaft may be too close to the end of the shaft, causing a significant reduction in joint strength. Since discovery of this problem, Piper has added a step to the manufacturing process and also introduced a fixture to ensure proper assembly of the control wheel shaft/universal joint.”
FAA officials estimate it will cost aircraft owners about $40 for the inspection and about $1,430 to fix the problem, if detected.
A list of aircraft affected by the proposed AD can be found here.
Comments on the proposed AD must be submitted by Dec. 29. Include the docket number, “FAA- 2009-1015; Directorate Identifier 2009-CE-039-AD” at the beginning of your comments. To comment: Go to Regulations.gov and follow the instructions for submitting comments; submit your comments via fax to 202-493-2251; or by mail to U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590.
For service information identified in the proposed AD, FAA say to contact Piper Aircraft at 772-567-4361 or Piper.com.