FAA Issues New AD for Super Decathlons Over Cracked Hinge Concerns

The FAA is requiring inspections on the American Champion airplanes over a report of a cracked aileron hinge.

Super Decathlon
A new airworthiness directive limits aerobatic flight for Super Decathlons following a report of a pilot dealing with a stuck aileron during flight.American Champion Aircraft Corp.

The FAA has adopted a new airworthiness directive, effective Wednesday, in response to a report of an event aboard an American Champion Aircraft Corp. airplane. Specifically, a pilot reported dealing with a stuck aileron during a flight in his Super Decathlon (model no. 8KCAB), and while he was able to "un-stick" the aileron and land successfully, the subsequent examination of the aircraft uncovered a "cracked structure around several of the aileron hinges," according to the AD.

As a result of the AD, Decathlon planes -- any model no. 8KCAB equipped with part number 4-2142 exposed balance ailerons -- now require “fabrication and installation of a placard to prohibit aerobatic flight,” which limits aerobatic flight for the 10 flight hours allowed prior to an inspection of the aileron hinge rib and support. If no cracks are found during the inspection, the placard can be removed and aerobatic flight can be continued. If cracks are discovered, aerobatic flight is prohibited until an FAA-approved repair is performed. American Champion Aircraft issued a service letter in February, requiring “repetitive inspections”; however, the letter does not require a placard, and inspection results would go to the company and not the FAA.

The FAA believes that if the condition is not corrected, other pilots may not be as lucky as the one involved with the initial report. The AD explains: “This condition, if not corrected, could result in failure of the aileron support structure, leading to excessive deflection, binding of the control surface, and potential loss of control.”

The FAA estimates that 64 airplanes of U.S. registry are affected by the AD.

(This article has been updated to better reflect the requirements presented by the FAA's AD.)