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I'm usually pretty good at finding regulations, but I can't find anything in this regard. I'm curious if manufacturers such as Cessna, Piper, or even Lycoming and Continental are required by law/regulation to cover parts and labor for any airworthiness directives (AD) for the life of the equipment.

For example my 1977 Cessna 177 Cardinal II recently got an AD that required a significant amount of labor to complete (16 hours I believe). This AD was covered entirely by Cessna at their expense. This isn't the first AD that I've had like this, but it surprises me that a nearly 45 year old aircraft is still being covered by the manufacturer.

Is there a regulation that requires this for certified equipment?

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  • $\begingroup$ Which AD is that? The only recent one I saw was to check for a certain muffler manufacturer. 1973 Cessna 177B (fixed gear). $\endgroup$ – CrossRoads Mar 1 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ @CrossRoads I think this was for the inspection of the stabilator hinge assembly, which required removal, disassembly, and reassembly/installation of the entire rear stabilator (recently I mean this was probably 2 years ago). The most recent one I got was an AD for the prop (can't remember if it was the pitch mechanism or the prop bolts), but it was also covered by Cessna. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Mar 1 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ There must be a better way to find them. I used the link in the answer below, and searched on Cessna and filtered for 177, and only got a short list back faa.gov/regulations_policies/airworthiness_directives/search/… Nothing showing in the last 2 years, and I know the muffler AD was just released in the last couple of months, the shop showed me their copy of it. I had my propeller blades replaced in November for failing the width inspection, but that was just regular wear & tear. $\endgroup$ – CrossRoads Mar 1 at 16:53
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The answer is basically no for aircraft not under warranty, but...

I've participated in numerous AD related activities on the OEM side, and I've never seen an AD with a commercial policy incorporated into it that dictated who pays for compliance, kits, or labor.

So strictly speaking, the aircraft operator is on the hook once an aircraft is out of warranty, but the OEM will normally have an internal commercial policy in place that its program office, customer support organization and spares organization uses as guidance on charges.

There is usually a Service Bulletin with a kit that has to be incorporated to terminate an AD and the OEM will decide whether to make the SB and kit available free of charge for some period of time when it's required to comply with an AD, for reasons of morality, politics and marketing. The commercial terms will be included in the Service Bulletin.

That is probably typical, but if an OEM is in a financially tight position and an AD's compliance is really expensive, the OEM may decide to make the operators pay for the SB and kit, or the costs related to a repetitive inspection, and take the heat by getting yelled at during operator conferences.

And sometimes, as in your case, if labor is significant, the OEM may also include a labor charge-back policy that will refund labor costs based on the estimated man-hours quoted in the Service Bulletin.

Sometimes operators include out-of-warranty "AD clauses" in their purchase contracts to avoid getting burned. And sometimes operators, especially those that may be looking for more aircraft, cut their own deals on the side.

Another factor is that, in order to get less onerous compliance terms or limitations in the AD itself (as I suspect in your case), the OEM may convince the regulator that they plan to proactively "campaign" a mod free of charge including labor charge backs, with a campaign completion date, and which may even include sending out dedicated teams to do the work (as with the Cardinal stabilator slot mod). Sometimes this is enough to avoid an AD being issued at all if the regulator is satisfied that every affected aircraft will be fixed by a certain date.

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As far as I know there is no legislation that requires a manufacturer to cover the cost of an AD. However its within their interest to do so. Keeping you in your Cessna buying parts when you need them and generally being a free advert on every airfield you land at may be worth more to the company than the cost of fixing an issue the FAA says in pretty serious.

The recent wing spar AD proposal on most PA-28's has caused some uproar that is a good example of the counter case. The AD proposal even goes as far as to estimate the cost on US operators, thats you the owner not Piper.

If you select some random AD's from the FAA's recent listings they all use the same verbiage "cost on US operator" implying that the FAA assumes the owner/operator of the aircraft will be the one on the hook. Sometimes that means an 255 dollar part and sometimes that means a 3 Million dollar fix

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