Friday, 24 December 2010

Bad composite work, great service

A week or so ago, a wing skin became disbonded from the main spar during a Cessna production flight test. Cessna, in conjunction with the FAA issued an AD that effectively grounded a handful of aeroplanes, the vast majority of which were still in Cessna's hands.

Since then it has transpired that a couple of other aircraft in the field have been grounded as recent repairs to these airframes have made use of composite parts manufactured by the same Cessna facility in Mexico that made the faulty parts. It seems that composite work had been done during a time of extremely high humidity, and this caused something called amine blush.

While this is an undoubted embarrassment to Cessna, the way the company has reacted has been pretty impressive. Any owners affected are receiving not only regular updates, but they are being compensated too. That's pretty impressive, and not something that I've heard of before in the world of piston GA.

Here's one of Cessna's updates…

To update you on the situation with your Corvalis based on questions posed by our affected customers:

  • Work continues at a rapid pace across Cessna, in close coordination with the FAA

  • As a very brief recap, a wing skin on a new Corvalis disbonded from its spar in several places during a production flight, causing a fuel leak.

  • As a precaution, the FAA issued an airworthiness directive for a handful of new aircraft delivered with parts that may not meet the original design criteria

  • The AD was expanded to several other aircraft recently repaired with parts that may also not have meet the original design criteria

  • The FAA and Cessna engineers agree the issue stems from a production process anomaly where some bonding steps were done during periods of high humidity resulting in a condition called amine blush.

  • Cessna has suspended production of composite parts from our TAM facility until such time as we are confident all components being produced meet the type design through processes which will assure the products are the quality our customers expect and deserve.

  • We expect it will take some time to resume composite production and unfortunately a date can not be established at this time.

  • Since we identified the amine blush condition and there is no approved method of testing for this condition, we are not able to ship any parts that have been produced from the TAM facility.

  • We are exploring multiple paths to secure airworthy parts that would satisfy your immediate needs to return your aircraft to service and satisfy the FAA as an AMOC (alternate means of compliance) to the current Airworthiness Directive (AD).

We will continue to work these efforts over the holidays and I will keep you informed. Additionally, I believe one of my team has spoken with each of the customers affected about alternate transportation or ownership expenses, however, if you have questions please contact me.

Again, we are very sorry for the inconvenience and will resolve it safely and as quickly as possible while treating our customers fairly in the process.

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