At the request of AOPA and others, the FAA extended into February the public comment deadline on a proposed airworthiness directive that would affect nearly 31,000 aircraft. The proposed AD requires replacement of rudder posts made from a certain carbon steel alloy.
The AD proposed in October was prompted by rudder hinge fractures that caused two separate nonfatal accidents in 2020 and 2021. The accidents involved a Piper PA–12 and a PA–14, both made under type certificates held by FS2003 Corp. (previously held by Piper), and with rudder posts made of 1025 carbon steel that, according to the NTSB, fractured in flight because of fatigue. The FAA issued an airworthiness concern sheet in September 2020 that applied to various Piper and FS2003 Corp. aircraft manufactured before 1974, when the 1025 carbon steel was replaced with 4130N low-alloy steel.
The FAA published a notice November 20 extending the comment period on the proposed AD until February 20, 2024, noting that AOPA (and other commenters) sought more time to prepare a detailed response to the rulemaking proposal.
"The commenters state that the NPRM is controversial and could drive substantial costs, among other things," the agency wrote in the notice granting the extension. "To be able to prepare informed and meaningful comments with coordinated consensus among its members, AOPA requested an extension of 90 days to the comment period."
AOPA is preparing comments on the proposed AD, and affected members are encouraged to provide their own feedback. Please copy Murray Huling, vice president of regulatory affairs, when submitting your comments—or contact him with questions.
“The FAA asks commenters to provide substantive recommendations for thorough inspection methods of the rudder posts which could be used in lieu of the mandatory replacement, as the proposed rule requires,” said Huling. “The comments should also include any make/model corrections to remove any aircraft which does not contain the subject part number.”