Open to Trouble

Beech doors subject to wear that makes in-flight security questionable


The following information is derived from the FAAs Service Difficulty Reports and Aviation Maintenance Alerts.

The FAA Aircraft Certification Office has called again for inspecting the door handles of Beech Debonairs, Bonanzas, Barons and Travel Airs. The checks are required by AD 97-14-15, but pilots should also familiarize themselves with the POH section on actions required in the case of the door coming unlatched in flight.

Pilots should be aware that an open door creates a lot of noise and loose objects in the cabin can blow around vigorously.

When inspecting the door handles, ensure the door handles are installed correctly and that the door handle does not have a worn stop on the base plate. If the door handle rotates without the handle lock release button being depressed, it should be repaired. This problem is addressed in Raytheon service bulletin 2693.

If the handle is properly positioned and the door opens without depressing the door lock release button, the base plate may be excessively worn. When configured properly, the door handle will unlock only by depressing the handle door lock release button.

American Champion 7GCBC Citabria
Main Landing Gear Axle Defect

The left main landing gear axle was damaged and the technician replaced it with new axle hardware. He discovered the new axle hardware was defective.The new axle nuts had a chamfer cut into the inside diameter where the nut contacts the wheel-bearing washer. The technician contacted American Champion, and they confirmed the chamfered area on the inside diameter of the nut was not correct.Part total time – 0 hours.

Beech A36 Bonanza
Fuel Pump Failure

The pilot reported losing engine power on descent. The fuel pressure was low and engine power was restored by the electric boost pump.The technician noticed fuel leaking from the engine-driven fuel pump seal drain. Also, fuel stains were evident in the nose landing gear wheel well and the lower fuselage in the vicinity of the right engine exhaust pipe. Continental SB 01-1 addresses this problem but was not applicable to the fuel pump installed because the pump had been in service more than 300 hours. Part total time – 608 hours.

Beech 36TC Bonanza
Cabin Heater Discrepancy

During an annual inspection, a technician removed the cabin heater to facilitate a leak check.The technician discovered one of the heat muff support rings was cracked approximately half way around its diameter. If the crack had traveled completely around the support ring, it would have allowed the edge to cut into the engine exhaust pipe, allowing carbon monoxide into the cabin.Part total time – 116 hours.

Beech C-90 King Air
Fuel System Anomaly

The pilot reported an intermittent problem with the fuel transfer system. The NO FUEL TRANSFER light occasionally remained illuminated when fuel was being transferred.The technician discovered that sometimes the NO FUEL TRANSFER light illuminated when no electrical power was applied to the aircraft. While inspecting the system wiring, he disconnected a cannon plug that appeared to be in good condition. However, he discovered severe and extensive corrosion on the back of each pin, with several pins shorted together. The problem with the fuel transfer indicating system was an intermittent short circuit between the pins supplying electrical power to the indicating system.Part total time – 6,474 hours.

Cessna 172S Skyhawk
Wing Flap Damage

Several cracks were found on the left wing flap during a scheduled inspection.The flap lower trailing edge skin was cracked at several locations between two and three feet from the inboard end. The cracks were adjacent to rivets that secure the skin at the trailing edge, and each crack was between 0.125 and 0.250 inches long. The cracks may have been the result of built-in stress or preload when the control surface was manufactured.Aircraft total time – 1,168 hours.

Cessna R182 Skylane
Defective Fuel Plumbing

During an annual inspection, the technician discovered a leak in the fuel system.The steel braided flexible hose that runs from the engine-driven fuel pump to the carburetor was leaking severely. There was evidence that fuel had washed the engine compartment. The hose assembly was placed in service in early 1987. Part total time – 391 hours.

Cessna 182R Skylane
Defective Vacuum System Plumbing

The pilot reported a low vacuum indication even though the gyro systems were functioning properly.The vacuum system hoses appeared to be in good shape but fell apart when touched. Several pieces of the inner hose material were found lodged in the gyro inlet fitting screens. The hoses appeared to be original equipment from when the aircraft was manufactured in 1982. Part total time – 2,433 hours.

Cessna A185F Skywagon
Improper Fuel Vent Line Routing

While conducting an annual inspection, the inspector discovered that the flexible fuel vapor vent line was damaged.The steel braided outer covering of the flexible line chafed against the positive battery cable, which supplies electrical power to the engine starter contact solenoid. When the battery cable insulation wore through the steel braiding, arcing occurred.Part total time – 872 hours.

Cessna 210L Centurion
Engine Failure

The pilot experienced engine failure, and while troubleshooting the mixture control came loose in his hand. The mixture control cable was broken at the point where it entered the protective barrel of the rod-end. There was also ample evidence of corrosion adjacent to the mixture cable fracture site.Part total time – 567 hours.

Lycoming O-235, O-320, O-360, O-540
Cylinder Cracks

The Service Difficulty Reporting program database has received several reports concerning cylinder cracks in these engines.All the reports concern cylinders cracking adjacent to the spark plug holes. In some cases, the crack extended from one spark plug hole to the other. Many of these cracks occurred at a very low number of operating hours ranging from 41 hours to 4,065 hours. Out of the 43 reports received, only 6 recorded operating times above 2,000 hours.

Maule MX7-235
Exhaust System Defect

An inspector found an exhaust pipe crack during an annual inspection.The left exhaust pipe was cracked around 95 percent of its diameter at the weld for the mounting support tab. Part total time – 151 hours.

Piper PA-28-181 Archer
Magneto Failure

During an engine runup, the pilot noticed an excessive RPM drop on the right magneto.The right magneto rotor assembly cam slot was broken. The mechanic said it was the third broken magneto rotor found in the operators fleet of like aircraft. The magneto used on the aircraft is a Slick 4370.Part total time – 1,654 hours.

Piper PA-28-181 Archer
Defective Starter

The engine would not start and the pilot reported a strange sound when the starter was engaged.The mechanic found the starter armature drive splines were almost completely stripped away. This left shards of steel in the gear housing that contaminated the bearings. The Bendix drive end was not damaged, and the shear pin was still intact.

Piper PA-31-350 Chieftain
Heater Fuel Leak

During a scheduled inspection, the inspector noticed a fuel stain around the front heater drain.The technician discovered the heater fuel pressure regulator was leaking from the gasket at the upper parting surface. He had complied with the requirements of AD 2001-08-01 and the referenced Service Bulletin A-107 approximately 59 hours prior to this discovery. As required by the inspection criteria, he conducted a heater pressure test and found no defects or leakage.Part total time – 160 hours.

Piper PA-32R-301 Saratoga
Defective Main Gear Strut

During a preflight inspection, the pilot found hydraulic fluid leaking from the right main landing gear strut.The technician determined the fluid was leaking through a crack in the strut housing below the aft support web. The left main gear strut was cracked in the same location. The replacement struts have a different design that incorporates a web support the entire length of the casting.Part total time – 1,845 hours.

Piper PA-34-200T Seneca
Pitot Heat Inoperative

The pilot reported the pitot heat was inoperative.The technician discovered the pitot heat switch assembly was severely corroded. The corrosion apparently occurred when rainwater leaked through the windshield.

Piper PA-34-220T Seneca
Landing Gear Control Failure

The pilot reported the landing gear selector switch broke when he selected the gear-up position.The switch snapped off even with the instrument panel. It appeared the selector switch shaft was overstressed or the material was weak. Part total time – 20 hours.

Piper PA-44-180 Seminole
Main Landing Gear Failure

While practicing touch-and-go landings, the pilot added power for the go, and the left main landing gear collapsed. When the aircraft was being moved from the runway, the technician noticed the left main landing gear strut was broken. The strut broke inside the fork casting and was still attached only by the brake hose. The aircraft maintenance records did not reveal any previous landing gear repairs.Aircraft total time – 5,737 hours.

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