AD 2014-03-03 adopted by FAA (icing hazards on Cessna light twins)

Earlier this week, FAA announced adoption of a new airworthiness directive [AD 2014-03-03] aimed at Cessna’s light twin engine aircraft. This is a new fix to an old problem, as most of these aircraft models were built more than thirty years ago. The most abundant of the group, the Cessna 310, was produced from 1954 until 1980, with more than 6,300 sold (Wikipedia notes the 1978 purchase price was under $148,000). NTSB’s accident records show that there have been 436 fatal incidents involving the Cessna 310 in the last fifty years. Last year, three Cessna 310’s were involved in fatal U.S. accidents (2/14/13 at Vero Beach, FL; 11/12/13 at Junction, TX; and, 12/8/13 at Jacksonville, FL).

Yes, FAA has finally announced their new safety directive. Take a closer look at what FAA wrote when they initiated the proposed rule via an NPRM proposal, on June 3, 2011:

These airplanes’ certification basis did not include Amendment 7 of CAR 3 Dated May 15, 1956, which required an applicant to provide to the pilot the types of operations and meteorological conditions (e.g. icing conditions) to which the operation of the airplane is limited by the equipment installed (CAR 3 § 3.772). Therefore, the pilot may not realize that, even with de-ice boots or other similar equipment installed, the airplane is not certificated for flight into known icing conditions. To address this condition and based on the accident history, there is a need to add a limitation to prohibit flight into known icing conditions due to the limitations of the installed equipment.

So, in 2011, when FAA turned age 53, suddenly a middle-aged agency finds serious limitations in the installed equipment on aircraft manufactured even BEFORE the FAA came into existence? Suddenly, this situation needed new regulation? Naahhhhh.

FAA Whistleblower Richard Wyeroski knows a lot about this issue. He flew (and instructed in) light twins, and he also served as an FAA inspector, before they retaliated against him. Here is his view…

“…(FAA was) controlled by industry and allowed piston twins to fly even when they knew it was dangerous. The accident rate sure does reflect it. This is because of the money!… not safety! Quite frankly there are very few if any piston 135 operators, because the insurance companies have priced insurance too high, and the accident rate is high. So FAA is back peddling and after 30 years coming out with a “cover their puny asses AD” now prohibiting flight into known icing….”

…to read more about light twins, the air cargo industry, insurance rates and the NTSB accident investigations (including links), please click on page two…