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FAA: Landing gear on some aircraft built in Sandpoint can fail

UPDATED: Tue., July 14, 2020

The Kodiak 100 aircraft.  (Courtesy Daher Group)
The Kodiak 100 aircraft. (Courtesy Daher Group)
By Keith Ridler Associated Press

BOISE – U.S. officials say the nose landing gear on some aircraft built in Idaho and flown all over the world could fail and cause the 10-seat aircraft to overturn on landings or takeoffs.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday said owners of the $2.3 million Kodiak 100 airplanes built in Sandpoint will have to do an inspection beginning in mid-August.

The FAA in the airworthiness directive said if problem parts are found, they have to be replaced or regularly inspected going forward. Aircraft not meeting requirements in the directive would be grounded.

The FAA issued the airworthiness directive, a legally enforceable regulation, following a public comment period that started last spring.

“Whenever there is an AD (airworthiness directive) issued that’s a super-serious matter,” said Robert Clifford, an aviation expert and senior partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago.

The FAA estimates there are 116 Kodiak aircraft with possible problems registered in the U.S. It’s not clear how many are owned and operated outside the U.S. The cost to replace the affected parts is about $7,500, federal officials estimate.

The aircraft was built by Quest Aircraft Design from 2007 until that company in 2019 was acquired by Daher Group, an industrial conglomerate based in Marseille, France, which continues to produce the plane.

Jason Eddy, vice president of operations at Daher’s Sandpoint facility, didn’t return a message left by the Associated Press.

The airworthiness directive does not have a set deadline. Instead, beginning on Aug. 17, owners have 25 hours of flying time with the aircraft before it must be inspected to see if it has the affected parts in the nose landing gear.

If affected parts are found, owners can replace them or set up a regular inspection of the parts to check for cracks not to exceed 200 hours of flying time.

The Kodiak 100 is designed to land on unpaved airstrips in remote areas, and has specially designed landing gear. The aircraft can also carry more than 3,000 pounds and land and take off on short runways. It can also be configured to carry passengers or cargo, and land and take off on water.

Daher Group on its website said the aircraft is used by outfitters working in remote areas, parachute clubs, as an air taxi, aerial surveillance for parks and police, assisting in wildlife management and delivering humanitarian aid. The company said the aircraft is also flown in Europe, South America, Africa, Asia and Australia.

The FAA said it received reports last year about problems with some parts of the nose landing gear becoming loose and causing shimmying, potentially leading to cracks. The FAA said that if the nose landing gear fails on unimproved surfaces, the risk of the gear “digging in and the airplane overturning on the ground increases.”

Wade Sullivan of the FAA in Seattle didn’t return a phone message left by the AP.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reported earlier this summer that some of the company’s Idaho workforce had been laid off, with the company citing a drop in sales due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company didn’t say how many of about 250 workers at its Idaho facilities were let go.

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