The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended the Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) require records reviews, aging aircraft
inspections and supplemental inspections for Parts 121 and 135 aircraft older
than the 1958 cut-off date of the aging aircraft rule. The recommendations (A-
06-52) result from the crash last December of a 55-year-old Chalk's Ocean
Airways Grumman G-72T Turbo Mallard Seaplane when the right wing sheared off in
Miami, Fla. All 18 passengers and two crewmembers were killed.
The Board recounted the history of FAA's aging aircraft rule, which, in
its proposed form, would have captured the Mallard and required damage-
tolerance-based supplemental inspection programs. By the time the final rule
emerged in February 2005, it only applied to transport-category, turbine-powered
equipment, type certificated after 1958 with 30 passengers or more. The Mallard
was made in 1947; an exemption for Alaska aircraft remained in the final rule.
The proposed rule also would have captured Part 135 aircraft with nine or fewer
passengers or in cargo operations. NTSB wants damage-tolerance inspections
extended to those aircraft. The board said that exemptions in the final rule are
contrary to the single-level of safety ordered by the FAA in the mid-1990s as
well as the Aging Airplane Safety Act passed by Congress in 1991.
The NTSB noted that damage-tolerance inspections may be impractical
because of a lack of support from the type-certificate holder. However, an
equivalent program can be developed based on structural fatigue analysis,
fatigue tests and/or field experience.