Cessna: 180; Wing Structure Corrosion; ATA 5710

Cessna: 180; Wing Structure Corrosion; ATA 5710

(The following letter and photographs were received from Mr. Luis Cuestas and Mr. Gerardo Bean, both engineers working for the Aeronautical Certification Directorate in Argentina. Slight redaction of the multilingual writer’s submission is to be taken as a compliment: this editor is limited to a single language about which a struggle ensues every day. The substance of this letter begins after its preamble, which included permissions to publish their material.)

“I would like to tell you specifically about the events...(concerning this aircraft). At the end of 2004, a repair station found severe corrosion in the front and rear wing (to) fuselage attachments of a Cessna 180 during a maintenance inspection. There was so much corrosion (many of the rivets had broken off the wing's rear attachment), and when the corrosion was removed many more rivets (literally—fell out).

“(The owner of this aircraft had neglected its proper care and maintenance.) This aircraft has an Aero-Application Kit installed (agriculture spraying equipment), and apparently--it had been in the open for weeks and had not been appropriately cleaned (...after equipment use.) (In the beginning we thought...) the corrosion resulted from the products used for spraying, but the kind of corrosion found and the areas in which it was found evidenced this corrosion originated from exposure to the environment and lack of maintenance and cleaning for years on the part of the owner.

“At present, the aircraft is being maintained (literally—the wing corrosion defects are being repaired. During this effort the vertical stabilizer was also removed and opened—more significant corrosion was found). I was there when these tasks were being performed and took pictures (of these defects). As can be seen in the pictures, the corrosion found in the (vertical stabilizer) is of the same kind found in the (wing). Some of these parts were really deteriorated—(to the extent the rivets were broken off). These parts are made of 2024 T-3 Alclad aluminum and do not have any other corrosion protection measures—apart from the clad.

“After doing some research we have learned this kind of corrosion is frequent in these Cessna 100 series aircraft.... Given the aircraft fleet in our country has many aircraft which are older than 30 years, we are (motivated) to take preventative actions.”

(Thank-you for the scary photographs! Corrosion detection, removal, prevention and repair for general aviation aircraft lies within the responsibility of the owner-operators, mechanics, and inspectors. Those of us who fly small Cessna aircraft pine for the days when new 150 series could occasionally be seen—even rented. All of us who participate in small aircraft operation need to be vigilant about corrosion—it’s eating the last of our once-affordable airplanes into extinction: hence, light sport.).

Part(s) Total Time: (unknown).

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