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AD to mandate Cessna tail cone and stabilizer inspections

The AD, which takes effect on December 7, applies to 6,586 airplanes of the Cessna 180, 180A, 180B, 180C, 180D, 180E, 180F, 180G, 180H, 180J, 180K, 182, 182A, 182B, 182C, 182D, 185, 185A, 185B, 185C, 185D, 185E, A185E, and A185F series. Inspections must take place within the next 100 hours time in service after the AD’s effective date, or within the next 12 months, whichever occurs later, and then every 500 hours time in service or five years, whichever occurs first. The AD requires repairing or replacing parts found damaged.

Inspection costs were estimated at $170 per aircraft.

The FAA’s action, proposed in May, followed reports of cracks in the tail cone and horizontal stabilizer attachment structure of a Cessna 185. The FAA discovered similar conditions on 29 additional 180- and 185-series airplanes, and “determined that the combination of the attachment structure design and high loads during landing contribute to the development of cracks in the tailcone and horizontal stabilizer attachment structure,” the AD said.

AOPA submitted comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking, raising questions about concerns including the applicability of the proposed AD to Cessna 182 models, inspection alternatives, and possible other sources of the cracking problem.

The FAA agreed to provide more details but left the AD’s provisions unamended in the final rule, noting that although the Cessna 182’s landing stresses differ, “the FAA determined that the development of cracks in the tailcone and horizontal stabilizer attachment structure is a combination of landing stresses and the attachment structure design. Models 182 through 182D airplanes have the same tailcone design as Model 185-series airplanes.”

The FAA also declined to exempt some Cessna 180 and 185 floatplanes, and lower-time aircraft, from the AD.

The AD allowed credit for previous inspection actions if conducted in accordance with the mandated procedures.

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