Australia’s aviation safety regulator has proposed restricting the use of aircraft powered with Jabiru engines in response to an increasing number of engine failures.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) says there have been 40 incidents where Jabiru engines have failed in the past 12 months, with some involving cylinder heads cracking or valves sticking. None have resulted in any fatalities.
In a consultation draft, CASA proposes limiting the use of Jabiru-powered aircraft to daylight hours and away from populated areas. Moreover, Jabiru-powered aircraft would be prohibited from carrying passengers and not allowed to conduct student/trainee solo flights.
“CASA is responding to a high, and increasing, rate of engine failures among aircraft that are powered by engines manufactured by, or under licence from, Jabiru Aircraft Pty Ltd,” CASA’s consultation draft published on November 13 said.
“The issues appear to be the result of several failure modes, which require separate investigation.
“CASA has formed the view that its functions under the Civil Aviation Act 1988 require it to mitigate certain risks to passengers, trainee pilots and persons on the ground.”
“Accordingly, while CASA works with Jabiru to identify the causes of these engine failures and to implement appropriate corrective actions, CASA proposes a set of operating limitations on Jabiru powered aircraft.”
Submissions to CASA on the matter are open until Thursday November 20.
Bundaberg-based Jabiru makes four-cylinder 2200cc and six-cylinder 3300cc aircraft engines, according to the company’s website.
Figures from CASA indicate about 1,100 aircraft in Australia were fitted with Jabiru engines.
Jabiru representatives met with CASA in Canberra on Friday in what the company said was a “lengthy and fruitful discussion”.
The engine maker said it was working with CASA to address the issue, adding there was “much work to do to ensure the proposed restrictions do not come to fruition”.
“We are very pleased to report that we and CASA have reached an agreement on a pathway forward,” Jabiru said in a statement on Friday.
“Jabiru has already put in place a range of reforms and is demonstrating to the CASA clear willingness to improve engine reliability.”
Meanwhile, the industry group Recreational Aviation Australia (RAA) said it acknowledged the engine failures associated with Jabiru engines and would be working with both the regulator and the company to discuss the impact of the proposed operating limitations on aircraft owners, flight training facilities and maintainers.
RAA said it had not been previously notified of CASA’s intended actions.
“It would appear the proposed actions by CASA are disproportionate to the risks faced by owners and operators,” RAA said in a statement posted on the Recreational Flying website.
“Of more than 90,000 Jabiru movements recorded by RA-Aus in the year to date approximately 0.03 per cent have resulted in some form of engine malfunction with no fatalities being attributable to these events.”
“If you are an owner or operator of a Jabiru aircraft or another aircraft with a Jabiru power plant we encourage you to contact CASA and express your views on their proposed actions.”