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Continental engine issue prompts immediate AD

The airworthiness directive expected to be published February 23 was released in advance for public inspection, making a recent mandatory service bulletin issued by Continental Aerospace Technologies legally enforceable, immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. The potential for improper crankshaft assembly first came to light when Cirrus Aircraft opted to ground its fleet of SR22 and SR22T models equipped with one of the Continental engine models subject to the service bulletin (and now the AD) that pertains to engines in the 360, 470, 520, and 550 series.

The February 13 service bulletin arrived five days later. Cirrus briefed owners, shedding more light on the issue, and the AD further refined the estimate of affected aircraft. (The service bulletin was revised on February 16, the FAA noted.)

Inspecting an estimated 544 of the affected crankshaft assemblies will be easy, as the counterweight retaining rings are clearly visible when the crankshaft assembly is not installed, but more difficult (and time-consuming) to access when already in the aircraft. The FAA expects 544 engines can be inspected with one cylinder removed, another 544 will require the removal of two cylinders, and 544 engines will need three cylinders removed, with the cost per aircraft ranging from about $1,000 to about twice that amount, depending on the number of cylinders removed for inspection.

“The FAA has included all known costs in its cost estimate. According to the manufacturer, however, some of the costs of this AD may be covered under warranty, thereby reducing the cost impact on affected operators,” the agency noted in the AD.

Unlike the Continental bulletin, the FAA did not exclude engines with more than 200 hours time in service.

“While the manufacturer’s service information excludes engines accumulating 200 or more operating hours, the FAA has not, as of yet, been provided with adequate data to support that exclusion,” the agency wrote. “In the event the FAA receives data to support the exclusion of engines with more than 200 operating hours, or make other changes to this AD, the FAA may consider further rulemaking.”

The mandatory service bulletin issued by Continental Aerospace Technologies included this view of the crankshaft counterweight retaining ring assembly that needs to be verified. Image courtesy of Continental.

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