FAA Propose Penalty Against Cessna Aircraft

05 October 2011

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $2,425,000 civil penalty against Cessna Aircraft after carbon composite parts of the wing of one of its aircraft came apart during flight. 

According to FAA, on December 6 2010, their test pilot performing a production audit test flight in a Cessna Corvalis experienced a failure of the skin on the left wing.  They say that about seven feet of the left wing skin separated from the forward spar and damaged a fuel tank. A spar is a beam-like structure inside the wing and is a principal load-bearing component.  The pilot made an emergency landing.

The FAA explain that they subsequently issued emergency airworthiness directives grounding 13 specific Corvalis aircraft that used wings and parts produced in Cessna’s Chihuahua plant between December 17 2009, and December 16 2010.  Their investigators determined that the wing skin separated from the spar due to excessive humidity in the factory that prevented the bonded materials from curing properly.

The FAA alleges that Cessna failed to follow its FAA-approved quality control system when it manufactured the wings on the damaged airplane, as well as 82 additional parts, in the Chihuahua factory. The manufacturer has since made improvements to the plant.

"Safety is our highest priority," said US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  "We want to ensure that manufacturers are vigilant when it comes to aviation safety.  There can be no exceptions."

"Quality control is a critical part of the aircraft manufacturing process and has to detect problems before planes leave the factory," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "Manufacturers have to ensure that all the details are followed all of the time."

FAA say that Cessna has 30 days from the receipt of their enforcement letter to respond.

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