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Concern summary

Discrepancy between documented and actual empty weight of FlySynthesis Texan aircraft

Reporter's deidentified concern

The reporter raised a safety concern regarding the empty weight of a Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus) Fly Synthesis Texan 550.

The reporter states that at least three Fly Synthesis Texans have been found to be over 100kg over the production declared weight. Given the Fly Synthesis has a maximum take-off weight of 550kg, this discrepancy is quite significant. The reporter is concerned that this is a systemic issue, and pilots have been, and may currently be, operating these aircraft over their maximum take-off weight. The reporter is concerned that regular and prolonged operation of these aircraft above their MTOW, may have resulted in airframe stress unbeknown to the pilots.

The reporter queries what risk assessments have been conducted to ensure that Fly Synthesis operating above their MTOW do not pose an imminent risk to the safe operation of the aircraft; and what assessments have been done or what advice has been received from the manufacturer, to determine the risk of long term stresses on the airframe.

The reporter accepts that the risk assessments and any subsequent safety advice may take some time to identify; however, the reporter is concerned that there has been no advice issued to all operators of Texan 550’s informing them of a potential safety concern. The reporter further queries if any advice has been issued to foreign aviation safety authorities alerting them of a potential safety concern.

Named party's response

RAAus did not respond to the REPCON.

Regulator's response

CASA has been in communication with both RAAus and the aircraft manufacturer to resolve the identified issues.

Of the aircraft RAAus provided CASA with re-weigh information, all have an increase in empty weight above the empty weight provided by the manufacturer. The increase in weight ranging from 49.1 kg to 114.3 kg.

The manufacturer has advised CASA that the aircraft has been manufactured to meet CS‑VLA standards which requires a safety factor of 1.25 for Composite aircraft. They have advised that the operation of the Texan 550 up to 687 kg MTOW (137kg over MTOW of 550 kg) would have no detrimental effect on the airworthiness of the aircraft.

CASA have increased the MTOW of the reporter’s FlySynthesis Texan to 600kg after revised manuals and information was provided by the manufacturer.

CASA has and will continue to communicate any identified safety concerns with RAAus and owners of FlySynthesis Texan aircraft as it becomes available.