Cessna manufactured approximately 145,000 single engine airplanes between 1946 and 1986. The average age of an aircraft in the Cessna fleet is 42 years; that translates to a 1970 model aircraft. The average airplane has an aluminum airframe that was certified under Civil Air Regulations using Civil Aeronautics Administration standards from the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s.
Certification requirements for legacy aircraft are similar to today’s certification strength requirements, but there are some major differences: the CAR standards contain no life limit or targeted requirement to detect metal fatigue as required under today’s certification standards.
No matter how carefully you treat one of these vintage airplanes, time and aircraft hours will translate into corrosion and fatigue cracks in any airframe. The best way to prepare for this eventuality is to create an inspection program that will identify these conditions and provide repairs/recommendations—before this type of wear compromises your safety.
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