FAA decrees new aircraft fatigue rules

AIRCRAFT must be protected against structural fatigue according to new regulations brought in by the US.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ruling will force aircraft to be submitted to a thorough inspection after a certain number of flight hours to check for fatigue cracking. Initially, the rules will only apply to 737s and MD-80s. Other aircraft will be phased in over several years. More than 4,000 US aircraft will be affected by the rule.

This will have some effects on passenger-to-freighter conversions.

David McDonald, vice-president operations at Aeronautical Engineers (AEI) told Air Cargo News: “We do 737 conversions and they have a 75,000-cycle lifetime by the FAA. Most freighters aren’t even going to come near that. The average freighter may operate 1,000 cycles a year and you’re looking to get 15 years out of an airplane after its converted so you need an extra 15,000 cycles. Now an MD-80 only has 25,000-30,000 cycles so that may have problems.

For the full story read the latest free digital edition of Air Cargo News, no. 691 dated 29 November, here.

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