FAA Hits Cessna with $2.5 Million Fine

Corvalis wing debonding incident prompts penalty.

The FAA is levying a nearly $2.5 million civil penalty against Cessna Aircraft after an incident in which carbon composite components of a Cessna Corvalis wing debonded during an audit test flight last year.

The incident occurred in December 2010, when an FAA test pilot flying a Cessna Corvalis experienced the separation of approximately seven feet of left wing skin from the forward spar. The separation caused damage to one of the aircraft’s fuel tanks, but the pilot was able to make a safe emergency landing.

FAA investigators concluded the cause of the skin failure was excessive humidity exposure during production, which prevented the bonded parts from curing correctly.

In its recent enforcement letter to Cessna, the agency alleges that Cessna failed to implement appropriate quality control measures during production of the defective wings, as well as 82 other aircraft parts, all of which were manufactured at the company’s plant located in Chihuahua, Mexico.

The FAA grounded 13 specific Corvalis airplanes as a result of the incident.

According to the agency, Cessna has made improvements to the plant since the incident.

“Safety is always Cessna's top priority,” a company spokesman said. “We are committed to working closely with the FAA on this matter. We will continue working with the FAA until it is resolved.”