13,000 Bad Cylinders

13,000 Bad Cylinders

ECI Titan Cylinder AD

Like so many others, I bought brand-spanking new Titan cylinders (type “A” it turns out) for my Lycoming O-360 at major overhaul time in December of 2005. Despite the recent FAA AD 2008-19-05 edict to the contrary, Engine Components Incorporated (ECI) insists that their type A cylinders are okay and so they don’t have to replace them at no cost to us. We only, we are told, have to have them inspected and compression checked every 50 hours. But even that is really not the basic issue here.

The reality is that I (and you) have spent big bucks to put an estimated 13,000 (yup,13,000) new cylinders (type A and type B) on our engines. And now with the AD and ECI’s response to it, the market place will look at our choice of ECI Titan cylinders and determine that all those engines are tainted.

ECI’s assertions to contrary, the Titan type A cylinders are NOT okay.  Why? Because the FAA says they’re not. And to add more injury to injury, if you have to remove a type “A” cylinder to ream a seat or something, you cannot legally reinstall it. So with a warranty decision by ECI not to stand behind their product 100%, my plane is now worth considerably less, and my peace of mind is in the dumpster. ECI just cost me thousands of dollars and seemingly couldn’t care less.

When I called warranty Manager Jim Passmore, ECI’s exact response? Gee, we know the type “A” cylinders are okay, it’s just that we lost our battle with the FAA. No, guys, wake up. What really happened is that because of your failure to stand behind your product, you just destroyed your customer base’s faith in ECI. I can just see myself trying to explain to a potential buyer sometime that despite what the FAA says, ECI says the Titan type A cylinders on my engine are okay.

As an alternative to keeping the type A’s, ECI says I can pay for replacement cylinders at now $600+ a pop (was $500), a ‘reduced rate,’ AND pay all the labor charges to remove the old cylinders (120 flight hours old in my case) and send them back. AND pay to install the new ones, and break them in, which means long cross-countries at high power settings and full rich mixture. We, ECI’s up-to-now loyal customers, are being told we must pay for their mistakes – not once but twice; once when we bought the cylinders, and again now when we have to pay to replace them. What’s wrong with this picture? And why, by the way, should any of us believe that even if we did buy ECI replacement cylinders, they aren’t going to fail again and we would be greeted with the same ‘Gee, that’s too bad . . . send money,’ response from ECI?

Okay, so let’s say each of us grits our teeth and buys replacement cylinders, how much of a toll would this whole thing really take on ECI? Considering they make a good profit on each cylinder, they stand to lose far less than I when they expect me to pay $600 more for each replacement cylinder—somewhere near what I would guess it costs them to make one. Each of us who bought Titan cylinders gets to bear a whopping loss so that ECI can walk away unscathed? Talk about a bailout.

If ECI is going to persist in this kind of customer “service,” the general aviation community needs to take action – class action. After all, how often do you or I get to sell expensive products to the public that are as flawed as these cylinders, and require our customers to pay for them not once, but twice? Would we ever see another customer? Nope. Don’t think so.

We need to give ECI a serious reality check. If they don’t begin now to stand behind their products 100%, their reputation should be as shot as that of the CEO’s of big auto. Conscientious aircraft owners and engine overhaul shops will just stop buying from ECI. And just how long would they stay in business then?

The success of any business boils down to trust. In the end, that’s what you’re really selling. But maybe like the auto manufacturing giants, Engine Components Incorporated has serious problems thinking ahead. And look where that got big auto.

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