Massive ECi AD Impending

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  • #84389

    This will likely impact many of us in the Twin Cessna fleet. There is an upcoming AD on ECi cylinders made in 2009 and later that will require removal. When we overhauled the engines on the 310, we were told we supposedly had the latest and greatest cylinders that should be immune, but I’m going to check the logbooks tonight to see if we are impacted or not.

    If we are, then we’ll see what happens.

    ECi is commenting against the ruling and encouraging owners to submit complaints to the FAA about this. I know I will be submitting a comment if this impacts the 310.

    http://Www.eci.aero/pages/nprm-AEC631397-cylinders.aspx

    #100048

    Here is the TCM service bulletin described in the AD http://www.tcmlink.com/pdf2/SB96-12.pdf

    Notice, compression/leaks are checked at bottom dead center. More typical is TDC checks, but this would miss a crack in the cylinder wall.

    Eric

    #100050

    Just checked our logs – we’re outside of the impacted S/N range – whew!

    But I’m sure other members are not so lucky…

    #100051
    bthomason
    Participant

      We have been expecting this for about a year. Tony will be formulating the formal comment from The Twin Cessna Flyer. You also can comment as an individual owner, of course. We’d be interested in hearing from any member who wants to share either positive or negative experiences they’ve had with ECI cylinders. Send them to me at editor@twincessna.org. Be sure to specify your aircraft type, engine type, engine and cylinder times in service.

      Below is a reprint from the December 2012 issue of The Twin Cessna Flyer. It’s Tony’s response to a member who had numerous problems with ECI cylinders. It’s a good recap of the situation.

      Marion, This a long, continuing story so here goes. Engine Components Inc. (ECi), manufacturer of replacement IO & TSIO-520/550 cylinders has had a major problem with cracking and barrel to head separation for some time now. Your time-in-service for the cracks to begin are rather typical, at the 500 hr. to 700 hr mark.

      ECi and the FAA has been addressing this issue for over a decade but unfortunately they seem to only focus at any one time on rather small blocks of serial numbers, which then grow to other, larger, groups as time goes along.

      Beginning of problems: Head cracking problems first became an ECi official concern in the fall of 2002. ECi released service bulletin #MSB 02-9 which identified problems in certain TSIO-520 cylinders installed in 325 horsepower and above engines. This primarily affected RAM Aircraft modified aircraft with cylinder heads produced prior to April 2001. It was reported that this only affected a small group of cylinder heads built by an outside vendor, Quality Castings, who ECi strangely enough specifically named in the service bulletin.

      At the time ECi/FAA were reporting 18 instances of cracked cylinders which, from personal experience, was vastly underreported. It seems this pattern of under reporting has been an ongoing issue for years.

      This service bulletin evolved into AD2004-08-10 in May 5, 2004 with which mirrored ECi MSB02-9 and required the removal of certain serial number units from service.

      Continuing Problems:
      In March of 2004 ECi released Service Bulletin MSB04-1 with a reported 40 cylinders cracking on IO & TSIO-520/550 cylinders. The problem this time was blamed on inadequate heat-treating of the cylinder head and supposedly only involved a certain group of cylinders manufactured between September 1, 2002 and May 12, 2003. A complicated identification procedure to find the affected cylinder was outlined, which probably did not find a large group of the affected cylinder heads. This issue never reached AD note status with the FAA even though the reported number of cracked cylinders far exceeded the 2002 problem.

      My personal thoughts are that this service bulletin did not cover nearly all of the in-service problem cylinders and because of it’s status as a service bulletin only, many of the actual affected cylinders still remain in operation today waiting to crack.

      Still More Problems:
      On August 25, 2006 ECi then released MSB 06-2 (which has been revised twice) that affected all IO & TSIO-520/550 cylinders produced between September 2002 and November 2005. In this bulletin there was no real reason given as to why cylinders were cracking but seemed to be an extension of the two previous bulletins. No reported failure numbers were given and the bulletin simply stated that after an affected cylinder reaches 500 hours, the cylinders need to have inspections that include visual, compression test, and soap bubble leak test conducted each 50 hours until the inevitable crack expresses itself, then the cylinder is replaced. While the MSB identified by casting marks the affected cylinders, I have found any and all of this generation cylinders cracked.

      Once again the FAA did not make this into an AD note but by Feb 24, 2012 continued cylinder failures raised concern at the National Transportation Safety Board. NTSB representatives conducted meetings with ECi and the FAA and ultimately released a Safety Recommendation #A-12-7. http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/recletters/2012/A-12-007.pdf

      This document discussed all of the various, aggregate causation factors of cylinder cracks, and added the recommendation that virtually all of the ECi cylinders produced prior to October 2009 be inspected each 50 hours as defined in the ECi MSB06-2 and that the cylinders be removed from service at the manufactures recommended TBO.

      To date the FAA has not enforced this NTSB recommendation with any regulatory action.

      Not The End of The Story:
      In March of 2012 ECi responded with a Media communication (posted on the TTCF website) and, in June 2012, mass emails/press releases gave us a technical letter “Cool is the Rule” followed with Oshkosh seminars in July explaining the new mantra “Cool is the Rule”. Basically, ECi refuted much of the NTSB’s findings, stating that while some of the cracking/head separation may have been from manufacturing problems, this represented only a very small portion of the cylinders. ECi infers that the majority of cylinder problems are caused by pilot operating technique.

      What do owners do?
      Many of the crack prone cylinders are still in service on aircraft with 1997 thru 2010 overhauled engines. This includes most of the RAM converted or re-engined T310’s, 340’s, and 414‘s that had ECi cylinders installed in this time period. Regardless of how careful the operation, a significant percentage of these cylinders will wind up cracking which, if left undetected, could lead to complete cylinder failure.

      If your aircraft had ECi cylinders installed prior to Feb. 2011 you should continue to consider them suspect, and perform the inspections defined in ECi MSB06-2 at each 50 hrs. to identify cracks and repair before catastrophic failure.

      Read ECi information on “Cool is the Rule” and operate the engine accordingly. (This is a good idea regardless of who makes the cylinder).
      
See http://www.eci.aero for copies of both.

      The Future:
      A lot of additional cracked cylinders are going to be found as we weed through possible faulty units.

      The NTSB and ECi both acknowledge improvements to the cylinder head to barrel interface done in Oct 2009 but our experience is that this did not stop all types of head cracking. In Feb of 2011 ECi released a further improved head design with even heavier material with supposed better stress relief in crack prone areas. ECI blesses these new generation Titan Cylinders as the absolute best every produced and updated the Titan cylinder warranty to engine TBO hours or 3 years.

      At this point I haven’t seen any of these new generation (post Feb 2011) units cracked but we are only half way through the calendar warranty period meaning most of them still only have a couple of hundred hours on them at this point.

      Will they be the answer?

      I am always a little skeptical and I’ve been promised by ECi several times before that the problem is fixed, so as they say, “only time will tell”.

      Tony Saxton – Director Of Tech Support TTCF

      #100052

      Bob, will there be a request for data from the membership in the next issue? I’d be curious to see what the TTCF membership fleet statistics are for the cylinders impacted by the AD. Our 310’s previous owner (a TTCF member as well) ended up replacing all 12 of the cylinders on his RAM T310R at ~500 hours when he found 10-11 of them cracked, and should have gotten ones in the new bunch not impacted by the AD. I’ll suggest he send you an eMail with his experiences.

      I was glad to see that our cylinders (from the “new” set that Tony referenced post-Feb 2011) were not included in the AD. As I said in my article about the engine overhauls, the choice of ECi was probably the one decision that I wasn’t sure about and felt it was a case of “Which bad cylinders do I least not want?” My big question going forward will be if, in a few years, these cylinders get AD’d as well or have cracking issues. Given how we operate the engines, we’re in the lowest probability for actually having a problem…

      #100053
      jwarrington
      Participant

        I am a new 340 owner.
        If they have to be replaced.
        Is there a better choice than replacing them with another
        Set of ECI Titan’s ?
        Thx

        #100056
        Gerald T. Alves
        Participant

          GTISO 421 engines should have series 73 Cylinders which are exempt from this proposed AD

          #100057

          Here is the original NTSB recommendation from February 2012:

          http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/recletters/2012/A-12-007.pdf

          Note around page 75 it mentions Twin Cessna’s as high dollar airplanes.

          Curious as to where Tony is going to come out on this since he clearly thinks there is a problem.

          The economic consequences are massive.

          My 5 hr SMOH freshly overhauled engine with ECI cylinders with hand polished ports was caught in the first 04 AD so I have the $ merit badge.

          #100058
          quote jwarrington:

          I am a new 340 owner.
          If they have to be replaced.
          Is there a better choice than replacing them with another
          Set of ECI Titan’s ?
          Thx

          This is a hard question. When I went through the cylinder choice a year ago, we chose Titans. Not because we thought they were great, but because I wasn’t happy with any of the options. Superior has had ADs on their cylinders as well, and their new ones represent an unknown. One of my friends recently put Superiors on his P-Baron, and I thought one had a low time failure. I know he had to cage an engine during the break-in.

          I think the factory cylinders have had the fewest ADs overall. The newest Titans are “new and improved”, as Tony mentions. Only time will tell if they escape ADs or not. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but not holding my breath.

          #100059
          quote TWESTFALL:

          Curious as to where Tony is going to come out on this since he clearly thinks there is a problem.

          The economic consequences are massive.

          Same. I need to do a bit more research, but on the surface while I see the point of the AD, I think that the economic burden is too high with too frequent inspections. It also unfairly punishes those who would have naturally aspirated engines, run LOP with low CHTs, and might be able to get more life out of their cylinders.

          I’ll be very interested to read Tony’s response, since he sees the realities more than those of us who are individual owners.

          #100060
          quote TWESTFALL:

          Here is the original NTSB recommendation from February 2012:

          http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/recletters/2012/A-12-007.pdf

          Note around page 75 it mentions Twin Cessna’s as high dollar airplanes.

          Curious as to where Tony is going to come out on this since he clearly thinks there is a problem.

          The economic consequences are massive.

          My 5 hr SMOH freshly overhauled engine with ECI cylinders with hand polished ports was caught in the first 04 AD so I have the $ merit badge.

          In my view, Twins should simply be excluded from any potential AD. That is why we have 2 engines, after all. We pay the economic burden up front to not depend on a single engine operating ALL the time…

          #100061
          quote RZIEGLER:

          In my view, Twins should simply be excluded from any potential AD. That is why we have 2 engines, after all. We pay the economic burden up front to not depend on a single engine operating ALL the time…

          While I agree with you to a point, I can assure you the FAA will not. I have not seen any certification requirements that allow twins to maintain less reliability than singles. However in the Part 25 turbine world, there are reliability guidelines with the probability of “dual engine events.” I might make an engineering analysis based on that that could help. The other issue is that the most powerful engines impacted by this (which will therefore be the hardest on the cylinders and theoretically most likely to fail) are all twins.

          Unfortunately I have little hope that we can do much to make this AD less painful, but in order to have any hope, I believe our arguments must be based in facts and certification requirements.

          #100062

          I’m recently purchased a 414 with Rame Series VI that were put in it, in 1999. Looking at the rebuild sheet from Ram is show that New Superior Air Parts Millennium cylinders were installed. It also lists that AD 86-13-04 R3 N/A per cylinder p/n.

          I don’t know much about the Superior AD’s but the plane is going in for a pre-buy next monday and would like to be sure I ping my mechanic to check into this very careful if there is a need. Perhaps someone who has owned the same would be able to provide guidance. I realize this is not the same issue as the current one but wanted to ask.

          #100067
          quote GALVES:

          GTISO 421 engines should have series 73 Cylinders which are exempt from this proposed AD

          Another great reason to own a 421! 😉

          Robert

          #100069
          quote khouseholder1:

          I’m recently purchased a 414 with Rame Series VI that were put in it, in 1999. Looking at the rebuild sheet from Ram is show that New Superior Air Parts Millennium cylinders were installed. It also lists that AD 86-13-04 R3 N/A per cylinder p/n.

          I don’t know much about the Superior AD’s but the plane is going in for a pre-buy next monday and would like to be sure I ping my mechanic to check into this very careful if there is a need. Perhaps someone who has owned the same would be able to provide guidance. I realize this is not the same issue as the current one but wanted to ask.

          Kelly, I’m not sure about the Superior AD. One of our members just had to deal with it, though. Maybe start a new thread to get some better feedback. If it’s N/A by PN, you probably want to check the PNs and SNs on the heads to be certain.

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