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Cirrus Grounds Its Planes; Continental Has Big Problem

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Details are still emerging here, but Plane & Pilot has confirmed that Continental Aerospace Technologies is working with the FAA on possibly developing an Airworthiness Directive (AD) on aircraft powered by late models of several of its engine models. These include 360-, 470-, 520- and 550-series engines. Continental is urging owners of planes with any of these engines with a manufacturing date between June 1, 2021, and February 7, 2023, to voluntarily ground their planes “until further information is available.”

In response to Continental’s woes, Cirrus Aircraft has grounded all of its company-operated aircraft with affected engines, likely all of its SR22 aircraft which are powered by Continental IO-550 and TSIO-550 series engines; many or most of its company airplanes likely were manufactured within the affected dates.

In a bulletin issued to its customers, Cirrus wrote, “We have just been informed by Continental of an issue that affects the engines that power both our SR22 and SR22T. While we are still working with Continental to determine the scope of the issue and specific serial number range of affected aircraft, we are proactively making the decision—out of an abundance of caution—to pause all internal Cirrus Aircraft company flight operations on SR22s and SR22Ts manufactured and issued a Certificate of Airworthiness from June 21, 2021, through February 7, 2023.”

Cirrus, says that as it’s in the, “…very early stages of working with Continental to gather more information, we wanted to proactively reach out to you now to let you know the decision we have made regarding flight operations for our company-owned and operated aircraft.”

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Knoxville, Tennessee,-based Cirrus is expecting, it said, for Continental to issue a service bulletin “in the near future,” and said that communication would go into detail on the nature of the problem and the corrective actions necessary. Cirrus did not say that it was anticipating an AD to spring from the issue, but such a mandatory compliance directive from the FAA and manufacturers is the common next step in such situations.

One commenter on the original Reddit thread on which we saw the Cirrus statement, which they later confirmed, said that he had contacted his service center, who told him that the (unspecified) issue would affect “around 1,000 planes” and take a year to work through.

This is breaking news. We’ll update this story as new details emerge.

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