12 February 2021
The UK CAA and EASA have decided NOT to adopt the FAA’s final wing spar Airworthiness Directive affecting wing spars on some Piper PA-28 models.
AD 2020-26-16 was announced by the US authority, the FAA, on 15 January 2021 and applies to certain PA-28 and PA-32 aeroplanes.
That AD requires calculating the factored service hours for each main wing spar to determine when inspection is required, a one-time inspection of the inner surface of the two lower outboard bolt holes on each lower main wing spar to detect cracks, and, depending on findings, replacing the cracked main wing spar.
The CAA’s Steve Horton, Policy Lead on Airworthiness, told FLYER, “We recognise that the FAA have a difference in the way that the hours flown and inspections are measured when compared to the UK and Europe.
“We are working with EASA and Piper to come up with an alternative factored hours calculation, the aim is for a harmonised European position. We were hoping to issue a PAD early this week.”
The FAA AD was prompted by a fatal accident involving wing separation on a Piper Model PA-28R-201. An investigation revealed a fatigue crack in a visually inaccessible area of the lower main wing spar cap.
Freedom Aviation at Cotswold Airport (Kemble) operates six Piper PA-28 aircraft. It took the decision to go ahead and comply with the FAA AD anyway.
Head of Training Dave Jelly said, “This has been going on for two years on and off and when the FAA AD came out we just decided to do the lot anyway, just to be on the safe side.
“It’s a time-consuming process [to get to the bolt holes] but the probing takes five minutes per aircraft. The eddy current machine is very sophisticated and produces a detailed scan. Ours were all fine.
“You do have to be very meticulous when taking out the bolts – it’s easy to damage the bolt holes. The tester said ours were the best he’d seen. It cost us a week of flying, but at least it’s done now.”