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Orlando Flight Standards District Office, ASO-15


5950 Hazeltine National Drive
Suite 500
Orlando, FL 32822-5023
(407) 815-0000 Ext. 174
Fax (407) 818-0507



January 18, 2000

Thomas J. Connolly, Chancellor
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
600 S. Clyde Morris Blvd.
Datona Beach, Florida 32114-3900

Dear Dr. Connolly:

A recent inspection of the maintenance records for the Embry-Riddle Cessna 172R fleet revealed some concerning situations. There are numerous repeat accounts of engine roughness and stoppage without conclusive corrective action. This situation is also annotated in the Federal Aviation Administration Service Difficulty Report (SDR) Data. Records indicate that the fleet consists of 58 airplanes and all of the airplane records were not reviewed. The SDR contains 83 reports on the Embry-Riddle Cessna fleet and the records reviewed were selected from this report. Although the focus of this review was engine operational problems there are an abnormal number of electrical problems recorded.

The following examples illustrated the seriousness of this problem:


N407ER and N417ER have made precautionary landings.

N409ER returned to the airport.

N434ER engine failed at 700 feet on base, restarted at 200 feet.

Numerous records indicate repeat problems such as "Aircraft Has Had Other Power Interruptions" or " History of Momentary Power Interruptions" or "Has Experienced Several Other Power Losses".

In some cases the aircraft have been "Grounded" and "Returned -to-Service" only to have the problem reoccur at a later date (N407ER).

This problem has not gone unnoticed and the Embry-Riddle maintenance organization has worked relentlessly to develop a comprehensive program that would have with conclusive results. However, even with the support of Cessna Aircraft and Textron Lycoming the problem still persist and an accident with this type of history would be unexplainable.

It also appears to be a problem that could be developing a complacent attitude in students. Engine roughness and power interruptions, especially in single-engine airplanes, are generally considered unacceptable. Early learning makes an indelible impression and students that are repeatedly subjected to these types of engine problems could consider them routine. This may, now or at some later date, result in a pilot disregarding the early signs of a catastrophic engine failure. This becomes increasingly more important because more and more civilian-trained pilots are entering the airline industry.

At this point there does not seem to be any violation of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). However, CFR 91.405 (a) does state that the owner must have discrepancies repaired as prescribed in part 43. Furthermore, CFR 43.13 (b) states that the condition of the engine worked on will be at least equal to its original or properly altered condition.

This is a serious problem that is receiving the undiminished attention of the Embry-Riddle maintenance organization However, neither they, Cessna Aircraft or Textron Lycoming have been able to develop a maintenance procedure that eliminates the problem. This letter is intended to serve as a record of official notification of concern and is suggesting that Embry-Riddle take conclusive action to eliminate this problem. There must be an answer to this difficult problem.

A copy of this letter will be forwarded to the Aircraft Certification Directorate offices that have oversight responsibilities for Cessna Aircraft and Textron Lycoming. If additional information or assistance is required please contact me at the above location.




Robert Lee Cunningham
Principal Maintenance Inspector




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