In‑flight opening of the tip-up canopy in a number of Van’s Aircraft Inc. models has resulted in varying consequences, including a significant pitch down tendency, increasing the risk of a loss of control.
The safety action taken by Van’s Aircraft Inc. will, once the service letter is distributed, make builders and operators of Van’s Aircraft Inc. aircraft fitted with a tip-up canopy aware of the consequences of the canopy opening in flight, and how to reduce the risk of such an event. The ATSB will monitor the release of the service letter.
In response to this safety issue, Van’s Aircraft Inc. developed a service letter for distribution to builders and operators highlighting the varying consequences of a canopy opening in flight, in particular, involving a tip-up (forward opening) canopy. The letter recommends inspecting the canopy locking mechanism to confirm that it operates as designed and to ensure the mechanism fully engages when closed. Keeping seatbelts fastened during all phases of flight is also emphasised.
Detecting an unsecured canopy prior to take-off could prevent in-flight control issues resulting in injury or aircraft damage.