Been working a bit with Paul Gryko at Acorn Welding, Canada. Duchess upper A-frames have a very important AD. Upper MLG A-frames have been failing. Replacements are unobtanium. Acorn Welding has the solution at hand, but needs a critical show of support. These planes will wind up grounded without it.I have pasted in the complete text of Paul’s note, below. It is a real shame that more prior owners failed to heed the ‘Mandatory SB’ when first issued, when parts were still available. No one ‘in the know’ should buy a Duchess that does not have the later (AD-terminating) A-frames. My discussions with Paul also explained why I had such a hard time locating these parts (for a BAC member right at two years ago).
These are terrific airplanes. While I’m no expert on light-light twins, in my opinion it is only the lack of the IO360 that keeps the Duchess from being best in class in their age group, in almost every respect (space, access, load range, comfort, safety etc). Or better yet, an IO390 upgrade… can you imagine?! In fact, the Duchess remains better, in many respects, than even the much younger DA42; and no one is going to touch a DA42 that is still equipped with Thielert engines, until something changes. I would hate to see something as do-able as MLG upper A-frames wind up destroying the resale value of the Duchess, the way the engine fiasco has damaged Thielert-equipped aircraft owners.
Having said that, it is also entirely possible that Canada, probably followed by Australia, will issue a revised AD that addresses the later A-frames. If those two entities pursue that course, it will probably be adopted by the USA FAA as well. Especially in light of the exchange rate advantages, anyone operating these planes outside Canada should contact Paul as soon as practical. Owners have the opportunity to get in line for greatly improved upper A-frames, for half or less of the current Beech price. If, in fact, Beech ever even shows any interest in again having some of their version fabricated. And if the AD is revised anywhere, because of the thinner tube issue in the later Beech version of the A-frame, this beefed-up Acorn version will be the only unit that terminates the AD (and holds the airframe value). One aspect worth talking about with Paul might be a potential trade-in value on existing later (-75/-76) A-frames. Since he has overhaul authorization on those, you can probably get those upgraded for less than the cost of completely new units. If he gets new ones made due to owner commitments, he may be able to offer an overhaul-exchange deal. I doubt that there is any trade-in value on the old style A-frames, unless there are some fittings or similar on them that Paul can re-use.
Paul Gryko’s Message Follows
Dear Duchess Operators,
Over the last few months all of you have contacted us regarding the availability of heavy duty A-Frames for the Beech Duchess. As you are all very well aware there are virtually no serviceable units left in the world. There is 1-2 new LH units at Beechcraft and One Improved LH unit at our facility. RH units are virtually non-existent.
Earlier this year Mr Jerry Chandler had expressed interest in having us obtain a PDA on these A-Frames. At that time we looked into the costs and feasibility of this. We have done all the paperwork, drawings, models, and are ready to submit the package to Transport Canada. There is currently one obstacle that stands in our way. Cost…
Since the A-Frame is considered “Critical structure” by Transport Canada it cannot be simply PDA’d the way other parts are. We would require to PDA by STC to get this part flying. The minimum number of parts we need to machine to make the project economically feasible is 10 of each side. This machining cost alone is close to $20K Canadian dollars.
The engineering on the project is currently estimated between $15-$23K Canadian dollars. We have already spent ~$6500CAN on drafting, modeling and engineering costs. Due to the cost of each individual unit we need some sold before we can proceed. I know that during tough economic times combined with parts being unavailable can lead to many operators simply using unapproved means to repair the old style A-Frames.
We can all see that these are starting to become a problem and grounding these aircraft for an extended period of time can cost thousands of dollars in lost training revenue.
As you are all aware there are 2 types of A-Frame mounts for the Beech Duchess:
105-810023-67/68. These are the light flimsy A-Frames located on approximately half of the fleet. These are affected by AD97-06-10 and have a 100Hour inspection interval that involves Magnetically Particle Inspecting the actuator attachment cluster. We estimate that the cost of each inspection runs ~300CAN per airframe per inspection(Based on Acorn NDT Procedure). Over 500 operating hours these inspection costs $3000CAN per aircraft.
These Frames are Usually bowed. Every single unit that has come in for a Fixture Check has FAILED. This bowing can eventually lead to the gear snapping or not coming down completely. This will result in huge repair costs to the aircraft.
105-810023-75/76. These are the post AD97-06-10 A-Frames. They do not have the 100Hour inspection interval but hide a dark hidden secret. The main Tube is only .080” Thick and the design of the part puts stress at the joint where the fishmouth in the main fitting is welded to the tube. Since these do not have the inspection this crack can propagate and lead to complete failure and uncommanded retraction/loss of the landing gear. Although this was never conclusively determined as the cause of several accidents by the NTSB at least 2 incidents in Canada(See Attached Image).
C-RA07-248 was designed and developed as a repair to virtually eliminate the possibility of cracking and bending in these A-Frames. Any wrecked A-Frame can be Overhauled IAW C-RA07-248 and returned to service as long as all machined parts remain undamaged. This repair involves replacing the .080” Thick tube with one .188” thick. Unfortunately we have located all Traceable A-Frames in salvage yards that have good machined fittings and returned them to service. Essentially Re-Assembling the A-Frames is approved data so as long as I have new subcomponents we can do it. However, these parts are non-existent.
Our PDA will incorporate C-RA07-248 for maximum safety. Transport Canada is also looking into including non C-RA07-248 compliant parts in a revised version of the AD.
In individual emails sent earlier this year we discussed the price as 7500CAN per A-Frame. I need a minimum of 2 Firm go-aheads with deposits to proceed with this project. Details of our project are below. However we do realize that this is a steep price so that is why you all were sent this email. We would like several different operators to commit to the project so we can both demonstrate to Transport Canada the Urgency of this PDA and lower the cost per unit.
I would need either 2 Firm orders at 7500CAN or 4 firm at ~5000CAN. I would also need a letter of commitment and urgency from each operator.
This project is basically ready to. Once we have some firm orders then we will get the parts machined right away. We will fabricate the A-Frames as our First Article Inspection parts and then send them off to you post inspection. At this time the A-Frames would still not have a PDA status as it will go to Transport Canada for finalizing paperwork. This is where the letter of urgency is needed. The more operators I can get to do this the faster Transport Canada will put a priority for certification. Once final Certification is received we will send out the paperwork.
This method has been used in the past on many Hawker Beechcraft King Air and 1900D aircraft for repairs needed in order to return a scheduled aircraft back to service.
Please contact me if you have questions comments or concerns.