An urgent message to all owners of Rotax-powered Bell helicopters

08 March 2013 / by Brian Mackie / Costs, Governance, Humour, Maintenance, Safety

The Civil Aviation Authority would like you to know that there may be a potentially serious leak in your chopper.

Gosh guys! This would be a really bad time to find holes in our trusty Rotax 912's cylinder heads

Golly gosh, guys! This would be a really bad time to find holes in our trusty Rotax 912’s cylinder heads

On March 7, it issued Emergency Airworthiness Directive EASA AD 2013-055EE, concerning reports of non-compliant cylinder head assemblies on a Rotax engine during a production test run. The envelope had a CRITICAL TO FLIGHT SAFETY imprint on it.


And the letter said that the Type Certificate Data Sheets (TCDS) for the UH-1 series aircraft required that FAA ADs applicable Bell models 204, and/or 205 series must be reviewed for applicability.

The cylinder heads “may have small machined through holes which can increase the oil consumption and can result in oil starvation and a loss of engine power in-flight engine.”

Most Rotax owners will already know of this AD – particularly if they’re signed up to the Rotax Owners website (which put out the AD at least 36 hours before CAA’s snail mail arrived). And they will know (from apparently more reliable sources than the CAA) that, in this instance, Bell helicopters are not applicable for applicability checking.

The CAA has caused a great deal of unwelcome distress to our significant community of Kiwi Huey helicopter gunship owners, who – until this terrible but false news arrived – had doubtless been looking forward to a pleasant weekend strafing the neighbours, innocent wildlife, or Featherston Street.

Postscript: Next year, aircraft owners living in rural areas might have to wait until the following week for any letter from the CAA, if NZ Post slashes deliveries as proposed by bean counters who have not the slightest notion of social responsibility. Tragically, some such pilots may have already bought the farm by the time the postie brings more bad tidings from the CAA (this time, we pray, somewhat more accurate).

There could be a claim for NZ Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.