Shoot, No Chute

Cirrus emergency parachute gets an AD and flunks its first real-world test


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

Three days after the FAA issued an airworthiness directive on the Cirrus Design emergency parachute, the first parachute deployed in actual emergency conditions failed to fire and the SR-20 crashed. The pilot and passenger were not injured.

The FAA published AD 2002-05-05 on March 13, with an effective date of March 19. The AD requires the owners of some SR-20s and SR-26s to avoid flying at night or in IMC until installing a clamp on the cable that activates the parachutes rocket – with the installation due within 10 flight hours.

The accident airplane belonged to the group of airplanes that did not have the day VMC requirement, and installation of the clamp was due within 25 hours time in service. The airplane was in compliance with the AD because the clamp had been installed when the instruction was only a service bulletin. However, the airplane was not in compliance with a subsequent service bulletin that reconfigures the cable routing and attachments to make pull forces on the activation handle more consistent and predictable.

The accident pilot lost control of the airplane in IMC due to a reported instrument malfunction. He failed to recover after several attempts and pulled the parachute activation handle, but the chute did not deploy. Witnesses reported the rocket motor fired after the airplane struck the ground.

Beech C-23 Sundowner
Defective Aileron Attachment

During an annual inspection, the inspector discovered the outboard end of the right aileron bracket was cracked at the aileron control arm attachment point. Failure of the bracket could cause the aileron to separate.Part total time – 3,178 hours.

Beech V35B Bonanza
Landing Gear Failure

During a landing sequence, the right main landing gear collapsed.The right main landing gear leg assembly was found to be defective. A bolt and bushing were binding even though grease was evident. The binding compromised the full extension of the downlock and caused a false down-and-locked indication in the cockpit.Part total time – 5,943 hours.

Beech 58 Baron
Defective Fuel Line

While completing a radio and electronic equipment installation, the technician noticed severe corrosion on a fuel pressure line behind the panel.The corrosion penetrated the line to the point of imminent failure. The corrosion may have been caused by moisture coming from the windshield defroster hose routed just above the fuel pressure line. Part total time – 6,873 hours.

Beech 100 King Air
Landing Gear Failure

The pilot reported hearing a loud bang when he retracted the landing gear. The left main and nose gear retracted, and the right main gear remained down and locked.A technician discovered the right main gear actuator had failed internally. Part time since overhaul – 610 hours.

Cessna 172M Skyhawk
Carburetor Discrepancy

The pilot reported the engine ran rough.A technician found the carburetor bowl retaining screws were loose. This allowed excessive air to be drawn into the carburetor during engine operation and fuel leakage when the engine was not operating. The bowl retention screw locking tabs were in place but failed to keep the screws from backing out of the threads.

Cessna 172RG Cutlass
Landing Gear Failure

During a landing the right main gear collapsed.There were no prior reports of problems with the wheel brakes or landing gear, and the pilot had no warning of the impending failure. AD 2001-06-06RC had been complied with 103 operating hours earlier. The right main landing gear pivot assembly was broken at the place indicated in AD.Two additional reports were received reporting cracks on the left main landing gear pivot assemblies. These defects were discovered on Cessna R182s, which are not covered by the applicability statement in the AD, even though they are included in the service bulletin referenced by the AD.The FAA Service Difficulty Program database contains 28 reports concerning landing gear pivot assembly defects, and all 28 reports were for 172RG-series aircraft. It is possible that AD 2001-06-06RC did not reference R182-series aircraft because the FAA did not receive any reports for the R182-series aircraft.Part time since overhaul – 204 hours.

Cessna A185F Skywagon
Defective Float

The pilot stated that while taxiing, he made a right turn, and the right float (Aqua 3190) swamped and started to sink.After the aircraft was recovered, a technician discovered the pump-out tube was disconnected in one of the aft float compartments. Due to this defect, the float was not expelling water.

Cessna 208B Caravan
Flight Control Interference

The pilot reported that the aileron control system was binding.The technician discovered the roll axis servo cover was misaligned and interfering with the servo operation. After he installed the servo cover correctly, the operational test revealed the problem was solved.

Cessna P210N Centurion
Landing Gear Anomaly

During a landing approach, a passenger noticed the right main landing gear was not locked down. Aerial maneuvers failed to lock the gear down and the pilot used the emergency-extension system.A technician discovered the right main gear downlock switch was stuck in the closed position. Part total time – 4,241 hours.

Globe Swift GC-1B
Loss of Engine Oil

This aircraft uses a Teledyne Continental, Model IO-360-D engine that was installed in accordance with a supplemental type certificate.During a flight, the aircraft lost all the engine oil and the engine seized. The technician discovered the engine oil was lost through the crankcase cover assembly. The threads in the magnesium crankcase cover used to accommodate the oil filter adapter failed, allowing separation of the oil filter adapter.

Piper PA-28RT-201 Arrow
Defective Landing Gear Component

After a gear-up landing, the student pilot stated he did not hear the landing gear warning horn prior to contact with the runway.While investigating this incident, the technician discovered the gear warning horn switch, located on the throttle quadrant, operated intermittently. The throttle switch was defective.

Piper PA-31-350 Chieftain
Heater Fuel Leakage

During a flight, the flightcrew noticed the right engine fuel pressure dropped intermittently.The technician noticed fuel leaking from the heater fuel pressure regulator/shutoff valve. Since the heater fuel supply comes from the right engine fuel supply, he believes this caused the intermittent right engine fuel pressure indication.The faulty fuel valve had recently been replaced in accordance with AD 2001-17-13. The FAA Service Difficulty Program database contains 16 additional reports of leakage involving the same part number fuel valve.Part total time – 17 hours.

Piper PA-32-260 Cherokee Six
Wing Attachment Corrosion

During an annual inspection, the technician discovered severe corrosion on a wing attachment fitting.The right wing aft attachment fitting and the aft wing spar were severely corroded. The damage may have been caused by contact of the steel attachment fitting and the aluminum wing spar, producing dissimilar metal corrosion. There was no evidence of a water barrier or other corrosion-inhibiting protection at this location.Part total time – 3,679 hours.

Piper PA-32R-300 Lance
Landing Gear Failure

After a landing-gear collapse incident, the pilot stated he had an electrical power failure. The failure occurred just prior to touchdown on the runway, and the left main gear unlocked and collapsed on touchdown.There was severe corrosion on the aircraft battery positive terminal. The battery terminal corrosion may have interrupted the electrical power supply and allowed the gear to unlock. A scheduled inspection was completed on the aircraft approximately 1 month prior to this incident.

Piper PA-32R-301T Turbo Saratoga
Defective Magneto

During a 500-hour inspection of the magnetos, the technician noticed the nylon gears in the left magneto had a frosted appearance and the distributor and cam gears were deteriorated and crazed. An electronic tachometer pickup, incorporating a vent filter, was installed in place of the normal vent. The technician removed the tachometer pickup and discovered air would not pass through the vent because the air passage on the magneto side was not properly drilled through to the filter chamber. He returned the unit to the manufacturer for evaluation.The nonfunctioning vent may have allowed the magneto to overheat and caused the gears to deteriorate.Part total time – 419 hours.

Piper PA-34-220T Seneca
Landing Gear Failure

The pilot reported the odor of hydraulic fluid in the cockpit.He selected the landing gear to the down position and received an unsafe indication. He used the emergency landing gear extension system to ensure the gear was down-and-locked and made a safe landing at the departure airport.The technician inspected the landing gear system and discovered corrosion had penetrated a hydraulic line in the nose wheel well. The hydraulic system fluid was depleted and prevented the gear from completing the down cycle.Part total time – 2,306 hours.

Piper PA-46-310P Malibu
Defective Magneto

The pilot reported the engine would not operate on the right magneto.The technician disassembled the right magneto (Slick 6320) and discovered one of the coil anchor wedges was displaced. The wedge had migrated onto the secondary tower, which was burned and melted. There were obvious signs of a direct electrical short at the secondary terminal contact tab.Part total time – 1,000 hours.

Piper PA-46-350P Malibu Mirage
Defective Engine Exhaust System

During a scheduled inspection, the technician discovered an engine exhaust system pipe was defective.The crossover pipe was split between the left and right turbochargers. Since the defect was located under the heat shield, hot engine exhaust gases were directed onto the forward side of the firewall. The firewall was not damaged, but the heat had melted the vinyl trim on the forward side of the nose baggage compartment.Part total time – 2,139 hours.


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