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EAA Helps Zodiac 601XL Builder Get Airworthiness Inspection

Zodiac
Ed Moody II, left, and his father beside the newly completed 601XL.

May 7, 2009 — On the morning of April 17, 2009, Ed Moody II, EAA 731976, of Rayne, Louisiana, was preparing for the airworthiness inspection scheduled for that afternoon on his newly completed Zodiac 601XL project. But at 10 a.m. he received a phone call from the Baton Rouge Flight Service District Office (FSDO) informing him that due to the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) recent request that the FAA ground all 601XL aircraft, the FAA had decided not to issue any more airworthiness certificates for the airframe until it was all sorted out.

“I asked if any 601XLs were being grounded and was told that the FAA was not going to ground any aircraft yet,” Moody wrote to EAA. “They simply were not going to issue any airworthiness certificates for any 601XLs until the aileron flutter issue was resolved.” The NTSB had alleged several fatal crashes were due to possible flutter problems on the aircraft design. Moody was also told that perhaps a DAR (Designated Airworthiness Representative) could do the inspection because only the FAA employees were affected by the decision not to inspect 601XLs.

Knowing that not to be the case, he contacted EAA for assistance.

EAA Government & Advocacy Specialist David Oord promptly contacted the FSDO in an attempt to clarify the situation, then reached Terry Chasteen, FAA’s light-sport aircraft program manager in Washington, D.C. Chasteen reiterated that the 601 is not grounded, and although the FAA was investigating the issues related to the NTSB recommendation, it was “business as usual,” and the FAA had not issued any airworthiness directives on the airplane.

Oord then conveyed that information to the FSDO staff, along with supplemental, Zodiac-issued information regarding control cable tension requirements and inspection of ailerons. On the following Tuesday, April 21, Moody e-mailed EAA that the FAA inspector had just called to reschedule the inspection at the earliest possible opportunity.

“Thank you for your efforts, which appear to have borne fruit,” Moody wrote in an e-mail.

On Wednesday, April 29, a happy Moody wrote to EAA:
“My airworthiness inspection went quickly and smoothly today. The inspector was thorough, but completely reasonable. The Goose is loose! Flight-testing will begin as soon as Wx and circumstances permit. Thanks you very much for your prompt response and help.”

EAA and the Government Relations department are currently working with the FAA, ASTM, and the NTSB to resolve the 601XL issue. The safety of the pilots and general public is of utmost importance. We remind 601XL owners and builders to follow Zenith’s recommendation to check the cable tension and inspection of the ailerons. Contact EAA Government Relations at govt@eaa.org if you have any questions or need any assistance. Hopefully we can clear up any confusion and help you continue to fly safely.

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