Cracked Wing Rib Repair
Cracked Wing Rib Repair, SL 1132
In 2006 Malibu Aerospace began finding rivets in the underside of the wings were leaking fuel. After investigating the origin of the problem, we found that there were cracked wing ribs, located next to the fuel tanks, that was caused by shanked rivets. We have found that somewhere in the range of 60 to 70% of the PA46-310P and -350P aircraft that we inspect do have the problem, which is why we felt compelled to make Piper aware of it. In response, Piper released Service Letter 1132. We have seen these leaky rivets, (and resulting cracked ribs), in Malibu, Mirage and JetProp modified aircraft built from 1987 through 1999, but that does not mean that newer planes and Meridians won't be affected. Some aircraft have over 5,500 hours and have not encountered the crack and others with less than 2,000 hours have had the crack, so it is important to keep an eye on this issue and a good idea to add it to your preflight check.
The repair is difficult due to the limited access of working inside the wing, but we have designed a repair method that is a good permanent fix. Until we gain access to the affected area and strip the old sealant away, we don't know what the extent of the damaged area is, but it is potentially two cracked areas in EACH wing. Repair times generally range from eight to thirty-five hours of labor per aircraft, (depending on what we find), plus $50 for parts and $750 for the DER drawings and approval. If the cracks are left unrepaired, it could potentially result in a more costly repair due to further damage. Be sure to inspect your aircraft at your next flight and if a crack is found, get it fixed immediately, before further damage or an unsafe condition occurs. We have mechanics with a lot of experience repairing these cracks standing by to repair your plane if needed, or have your local shop contact us for the repair documentation and guidance.