Van’s Updates List of RV Parts Reportedly Forming Cracks

The company says the defects in certain rivet holes appear to have resulted from the laser-cutting process.

Van’s Aircraft recently updated its customers regarding reports of cracked parts found in some of the company’s kits. 

Van’s published a notice about the problem and followed with a live update last week at EAA AirVenture, reported KITPLANES.

The cracks affected certain parts with rivet holes that need to be dimpled for flush riveting during assembly. The company said the defects resulted from changes in the process of laser-cutting parts. During the period from February 2022 through June , Van’s had an outside vendor produce the parts with laser-cut rivet holes instead of using the traditional press-punch method employed previously.

Van’s said the change was meant to boost production and relieve a backlog affecting kit deliveries. Company president and chief engineer Rian Johnson said the company’s  thinner parts were outsourced for the laser cutting and most were in noncritical parts of the airframe. According to Van’s, it has discontinued the use of laser-cut parts and has acquired a new, larger press-punch machine.

Apparently the cutting of rivet holes resulted in overheating of the metal in certain places, Van’s said. Builders reported the defects, including cracks that appeared after the holes were dimpled. 

During his AirVenture presentation in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Johnson described the testing taking place at the factory to address the defects. The company has told customers to stop building with the laser-cut parts for now, and Johnson asked them to be patient for the estimated 45- to 60-day period Van’s will need to finish testing.

The bottom line for builders of the affected kits is that while some parts will be acceptable for low-stress applications, others will have to be replaced. Van’s said it is setting up a process for providing customers with replacement parts.


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