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12 year mandatory overhaul

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The recommended FD mechanic in Iowa asserts that FD requires engine overhauls at 12 years irrespective of condition or hours. This is the first I heard of such a requirement and I read this blog regularly. I was told 1500 TBO and nothing else. Has anybody else heard of such a requirement and was anyone told about this requirement when they bought from FD??  I have not seen anything on this blog but I understand this is the same concept as the 5 year hose change. I understand if FD dropped the language that we must follow rotax directions the problem (and fraud) would go away. Looking for everyone's thoughts

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CT4ME   

No expert here, but all I've heard is 15 year TBO, or the 1500/2000 hour TBOs.   The 12 yr number may have been very early in the life of the 912.  Most older engines can be upgraded to 2000, with little effort or cost.  I believe you can go to "on condition" inspection, and exceed all of the aforementioned TBOs.  Provided that the engine and gearbox have been well-maintained, 3,000+ is possible.   And there is the hose change issue...

Of course, rather than an overhaul, some advocate just getting a new engine and selling the old one, recovering much of the cost.

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This all goes back to Rotax wanting a 1500 hr/12 yr or 2000 hr /15 year overhaul. It's good money at approximately $13K.

Let's put this in it's final grave.

Rotax or FD CAN NOT make policy over and above what is in the FAR's. The FAA legal has ruled on this twice that I know of years ago and you are allowed to go on condition just like GA aircraft. The FAA also checked with the insurance companies and they said they would abide by what the FAA rulings are and their decision.

 

Go on condition and don't lose any sleep over this anymore. If people still want to argue, don't. Just tell them to call Edsel Ford at the FAA.

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TheFD recommended A&P says the FAA flight standards office also asserts that the legal letters do not mean the 12 years is not mandatory but require an approved alternate maintenance program.  The A&P won't approve after 12 years and says the CT will not be certified. I'm also bothered that at sale I was told 1500 TBO. Since then I heard and upgraded to the 2000 on condition. FD should have represented 1500hrs/12 years but only 1500 TBO. I'm wondering if FD told anyone 12 years.   I consider the single limitation of 1500hours as a material misrepresentation to a class of buyers. And, as I understand it, the problem can be fixed by FD merely changing the POH to not require compliance with Rotax requirements 

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"The A&P won't approve after 12 years and says the CT will not be certified.'

Sorry he's wrong. FD or Rotax has nothing to do with this. They do not make the rules. It is a FAR and they have an alternate program. Called on condition which also means it just has to meet its existing standard of operation. The FAA carries more weight and makes the rules. Not an A&P, Rotax or FD. 

Find as new A&P if he fails to do his due diligence in his research.

It's a shame some will spend $13K  for nothing.

 

It has nothing to do with FD saying follow Rotax requirements. Rotax or FD still can not make rules over and above what is already in the FARs. They can write the world, but it may not carry an legal weight.

 

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Anticept   

The 5 year rubber replacement is technically on condition too, but the issue is, we've SEEN multiple failures as a result of NOT completing it, and it was a result of age deterioration. That's not something I would recommend doing "on condition."

We KNOW rubber fails, we just don't know when. By the time we find out, there's a good chance there's a serious problem.

In some piper aircraft, certain hoses have a life limit as dictated by an AD, 7 years, because of failures in the field from deterioration.

 

As for this "mandatory" overhaul interval: mandatory overhauls are not in the ASTM, and are not a safety of flight issue. The airframe manufacturer must issue a Safety Directive to enforce it. Even still, you can go to the FAA and could get an exemption from such an SD on the aforementioned basis. It's in the FAA's mandate that regulation and enforcement must be in accordance with flight safety, and giving manufacturers this power to dictate what is and isn't safe without just cause would be an attempt to sidestep this mandate, and I'm certain that would be in violation of provisions in the Administrative Procedures Act.

The fact is, overhauls are a *precautionary* maintenance procedure, based on a little bit of pixie magic and on a super conservative estimates... aka "we guess it will last this long under the harshest conditions".

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Runtoeat   

Eagle Wings, not sure if you've read the following thread. This might provide you with the needed documentation to show your A&P he needs to better understand the FAA's rules for accepted methods for maintaining engines.  Based on the referenced FAA Office of General Council legal intrepretation letter found in the link below, the Rotax TBO can only be a suggested method for maintenance for your engine unless the manufacturer of your aircraft specifically puts this in writing in the section of your Aircraft Operating Instructions which gets FAA's approval and signoff.  Our Flight Design aircraft have no such section in the AOI.  Until the aircraft manufacturer provides proof to the FAA that this TBO is a safety concern and convinces the FAA that the TBO must be made mandatory to eliminate these safety concerns,  and the FAA agrees and it issues a AD making the TBO mandatory, it is not mandatory.

http://ctflier.com/index.php?/topic/3663-rotax-tbo-please-read/&

 

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People get all heated up about this, because we are talking about an engine.  But really an engine is just another manufactured component of an aircraft.  The maintenance schedules for an aircraft are set by the manufacturer, not the individual component builders.  If the latter were the case, it would be a maintenance and regulatory nightmare trying to keep up with maintenance schedules for brake pads, wiring, individual hoses, tires, hardware like nylock nuts, and the thousands of other components that make up an airplane.  Many of them have manufacturer-recommended time or wear limits, and none of them are enforceable unless FD includes them in its maintenance schedules.

Flight Design has wisely chosen to remain silent on the 12yr Rotax overhaul and not include it in their maintenance schedules, leaving it up to the owner to decide.  In reality, how many people would by a CT if they knew they were required to spend $13k every 12 years in addition to the other maintenance required on it?  I don't know of any LSA manufacturer that enforces the 12yr limit, though I'm sure there are one or two out there.  

 

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One thing to remember in all this Rotax nor an aircraft Mfg can set rules or policy over or under what the FAA has in place. The FAA says you can go on condition and they also checked with the insurance companies and they said they would follow what the FAA had in place.

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1 hour ago, FlyingMonkey said:

People get all heated up about this, because we are talking about an engine.  But really an engine is just another manufactured component of an aircraft.  The maintenance schedules for an aircraft are set by the manufacturer, not the individual component builders.  If the latter were the case, it would be a maintenance and regulatory nightmare trying to keep up with maintenance schedules for brake pads, wiring, individual hoses, tires, hardware like nylock nuts, and the thousands of other components that make up an airplane.  Many of them have manufacturer-recommended time or wear limits, and none of them are enforceable unless FD includes them in its maintenance schedules.

Just to be clear nylock nuts are covered in the maintenance manual. They are supposed to be replaced if they are removed.

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20 minutes ago, Tom Baker said:

Just to be clear nylock nuts are covered in the maintenance manual. They are supposed to be replaced if they are removed.

I meant on time.  I was just citing examples of things that *could* be time-limited, and would cause huge maintenance headaches, I was not making claims of whether any of those things actually have any maintenance schedules.  I was speaking hypothetically.  

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Runtoeat   

I have learned a lot about "mandatory" claims since getting into this.  My mechanic, who often has "discussions" with his FSDO friends and who has worked on turbines thru Franklins and fixed wing thru rotary wing the past 40 years has helped me understand the various forms of paperwork that an aircraft's airworthiness is based on.  He has reviewed with me those sections on the Aircraft Operating Instructions where there is a definite section with entries that spell out mandatory maintenance and this section will be signed by the FAA.  He has also reviewed with me various TSB's and Safety Alerts which spell out what the FAA mandates the owner/operator must do to maintain the airworthiness of a aircraft.  I am confident that the Rotax TBO can only be a suggested method for extended maintenance of one's engine and that the "other methods of maintenance found acceptable by the Administrator" is an option that the owner/operator of engines used under Part 91 is permitted to use.

Tom, would the direction to not re-use lock nuts be considered "best practice" by the industry and thus be generically a "mandated" item rather than considered a "mandated" item because it is in the Rotax maintenance manual?

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34 minutes ago, Runtoeat said:

Tom, would the direction to not re-use lock nuts be considered "best practice" by the industry and thus be generically a "mandated" item rather than considered a "mandated" item because it is in the Rotax maintenance manual?

When I was building a Sonex, there was quite a controversy on nylon lock nuts in the community.  Some builders said NEVER re-use them.  The factory guidance was that it was acceptable to re-use a lock nut 2-3 times, with the test being that if you could turn the nut at all by hand it was time to replace it.  I usually replaced nuts that had come off, but if it was a fresh nut that had not been threaded more than once, I sometimes re-used them.

In a critical structural or control application, I would replace. 

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Runtoeat   

Andy & Tom.  I have been of the opinion that a nyloc nut can be reused 2 to 3 times or until one could turn it by hand.  I am more knowledgeable about this due to Tom's link but I didn't find anything below 7/16" in the charts for min torque. I know there's charts for metric but didn't take the time to look these up.  Thanks.

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I am dealing with a FD service center about the issue of the 12 year overhaul applying to my aircraft.  I have read two previous threads regarding this issue (posted below).

In the the 2013 "Willette letter", the FAA acknowledges the possibility of having an alternative maintenance program that they would find acceptable.  In my reading, it does not state that such a program exists.  Merely, that the possibility for such a program exists. 

The mechanic is telling me that "no alternative method for on-condition maintenance" has been accepted by FAA.  The Rotax on-condition program mention in a previous thread is from Canada, not the FAA.  Also, it is my understanding from taking the Rotax two-day service course that Rotax and the ROAN are two separate entities.  So, I am doubtful that the ROAN program counts as Rotax saying "on-condition" is allowed in a form that would be acceptable to the FAA.

The letter presented at the beginning of the "FAA response" thread appears to be the last written word from the FAA on this subject.  In subsequent threads, there is discussion of someone from the FAA saying that on-condition would be allowed.  But, the clarifying letter from the FAA has yet to appear after two years of waiting.    

My questions are:

1)  Have I missed the clarifying letter from the FAA?

2)  Has the FAA "accepted" an on-condition program for maintenance beyond 12 years or 1,500 hours?  If so, where is the documentation?  

And no, it is not my idea of fun having the forum revisit this subject.  But with an aircraft at the FD service center, the issue is real and not theoretical.

Thanks to all who contribute to making this such a useful and great forum...!

 

 

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Anticept   

If the service center insists on overhaul and it's an inspection, have an unairworthy signoff made and take it elsewhere.

An annoying thing about all of this is that the FAA never intended manufacturers to try and force you to overhaul unless there is an actual safety concern. That means providing evidence.

If you really need it in writing, you could go the route of contacting the FAA and tell them that compliance with overhaul intervals is not required by the ASTM and there is no evidence showing that mandatory life limits are required for a Rotax engine, and provide your own plan of maintenance (basically, on condition).

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If your engine was eligible to be upgraded to a 2000 hour TBO it was also upgraded to a 15 year TBO per Rotax.

As for other approved inspection methods I think CFR part 43 appendix D would be an acceptable inspection method, since it was developed by the FAA. 

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The FAA says you can go on condition. I have talked to them at nauseam about this and there are publications out there.  It is the same for other GA aircraft not under special rules.

The FAA stance is that Rotax nor any aircraft MFG can set policy either below or over what the FAA has approved. The FAA approves on condition at either the hourly TBO or the yearly TBO.

 

Tell the facility to do their due diligence and call the FAA head people or do their research on line.

 

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Runtoeat   

I would suggest the FAA response to the Willett Letter is a document which gives us the legal direction for extended maintenance of our Rotax engines.  In particular, please read the footnote (which I have copied below):

Section 43.16 refers to Airworthiness Limitations. A person performing an inspection or other maintenance
specified in the Airworthiness Limitations section of a manufacturer's maintenance manual must perform that
work in accordance with that section or as otherwise specifically approved by the Administrator. Maintenance
manuals for S-LSA do not have an Airworthiness Limitations section to which the provisions of this section
would apply.

The author of this FAA response is Paul Greer who was in the Office of General Counsel at the FAA when I spoke with him and he helped me find and download his response letter.  It is noted that Mr. Greer states in the footnote that Light Sport manufacturers do not have an Airworthiness Limitations section.  When I spoke to Mr. Greer, he indicated to me that the Rotax TBO can only be  "recommended" and cannot be "mandatory" since it is not a process found in any of the Light Sport aircraft manufacturer's Airworthiness Limitations sections since this section is not found.  Consequently, the TBO described is not a FAA approved process.  "On Condition" is a maintenance procedure which is "specifically approved by the Administrator" and so is a legal option which owner/operators of all aircraft engines, including Rotax engines, can opt to use.  The only way the Rotax recommended TBO can become "mandatory" would be for Rotax to prove to the FAA that the TBO is required for a safety issue and then, if convinced, the FAA would issue an AD (Airworthiness Directive) stating the TBO is mandatory.  To the best of my knowledge, historical data shows that the Rotax 912ULS performs the same as (and probably better than) other internal combustion aircraft engines used under Part 91, when the engine is maintained using industry standard "On Condition" maintenance. 

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First, my thanks to those that responded to my recent post.

It was my turn to talk to Mr. Edsel Ford at the FAA office in Oklahoma City.  Unfortunately, I was not taking notes as fast as he was talking.  So, any errors here are my fault.

In short, he acknowledged that there is unfortunately a FAA legal opinion that appears to support the notion that Rotax can require the overhaul.  He stated a clarification would likely confirm that Rotax can not require an overhaul at a specified time.  The relevant phrasing that I do have notes for is that Rotax can require that procedures in the maintenance manual be followed.  A distinction was made between a procedure (perhaps an oil change) and a timeline (12 years).  A timeline is not a procedure and therefore can not be dictated by Rotax.  He also reminded me that the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) prevents the FAA from delegating any rule-making responsibility.

Unfortunately, I failed to ask when we might expect a clarification because he had some other news that I found more relevant to my situation.  I will start a new thread for the ELSA to SLSA discussion.

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Runtoeat   

The Greer letter is the only FAA document I have seen which gives FAA's legal interpretation of this.  Per my phone conversation with Mr. Greer, he indicated that he published this interpretation to provide the needed clarification of the issue.   Please post the " FAA legal opinion that appears to support the notion that Rotax can require the overhaul".  I would very much like to read it.  I have also spoken with Mr. Ford.  My take away from our conversation was that Mr. Ford's comments about "delegating rule making responsibility" refers to Rotax' making it's own rule by asserting it's TBO is "mandatory" when there has been no approval from the FAA that supports this assertion.  The FAA makes it very clear IT (the FAA) IS the rule making authority.

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I never really liked the Willette opinion letter. It focuses on part 43. That portion of the regs. imposes NOTHING on owners or operators. The topic of mandatory engine overhaul, or any other mandatory maintenance, are requirements of WHEN to perform maintenance, and they are found in other rules like part 91, 39, 135, etc........................Part 43 speaks to WHO can perform, and HOW maintenance must be performed.

So for SLSA, 91.327 is the operational rule that puts maintenance burdens on operators. It doesn't speak to any kind of "maintenance program". It does speak to an "inspection program" for the aircraft.......................................... a "Condition Inspection". A condition inspection is just that..........................an inspection. That is the extent of legally required maintenance on SLSA aircraft. The other key language in 91.327 is the requirement for operators to have any maintenance performed on their SLSA be performed (by appropriately qualified personnel) in accordance with PROCEDURES. In the case of SLSA, these PROCEDURES must be those specified by the aircraft manufacturer. An overhaul requirement, or a hose change requirement, or a training requirement, are not PROCEDURES, and are therefore not part of required maintenance on SLSA regardless of what the maintenance manual or POH say.

I agree with previous posts, that an SLSA aircraft manufacturer can make other types of maintenance legally mandatory with regard to WHEN, and HOW by way of the Safety Directive system. The FAA can also do so using the Airworthiness Directive system.

I too think that the inspector in IOWA is 100% wrong in taking the position that the engine must be overhauled for the aircraft to be legal. He is well within his authority to say that he is not going to certify the aircraft as in a condition for safe operation, but his basis for saying it is fundamentally incorrect in this case. Same could be said for hose change, or lock nut change. Absent a Safety Directive or AD, those types of maintenance requirements come down to the judgment of the inspector after diligent application of the required inspection PROCEDURES.

Just because something is replaced, or overhauled does not by itself correct an unsafe condition. I can replace a properly functioning used lock nut with a brand new defective one, and I have actually induced a potentially unsafe condition. Wouldn't it just make more sense to use proper maintenance PROCEDURES when installing/inspecting any fastener, and then safety can be assured. Basically what that means is......................if the nut is found to be bad as installed,  REPLACE it. Used is not necessarily bad, new is not necessarily good...................Judgment prevails and the regulations support this.

How many hose changes have resulted in off airport landings due to debris? How many off airport landings have been found to be a direct result of NOT replacing all hoses at and arbitrary 5 yr. mark?

Anticept,

The Piper hose AD is an apples to oranges comparison as I see it. The unsafe condition there is cause primarily by a routing proximity to the aircraft exhaust and not a blanket life limit for a hose. It is very specific, and as we have discussed previously, the AD only applies to aircraft with a specific type of hose design installed in the first place. Nevertheless, the safety issue was addressed in the correct way. If hose changes or engine overhauls, or locknut replacements are so critical to safety in the SLSA world, a Safety Directive must be issued.

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Runtoeat   

Doug, well said.  I totally agree with your comments and thank you for your comments regarding Part 41.  Those who are waiting for the FAA to issue the "Holy Grail" telling us the Rotax TBO is not "mandatory" are missing the point you make...which is...until the FAA issues an AD stating the TBO is mandatory........it is not.

 

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