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EASA grounds GA fleet due to safety belts

EASA are currently on a crusade against safety belts that were overhauled in Europe. The problem is that companies in Europe have been overhauling safety belts for decades but have often done so without overhaul instructions by the original manufacturer (often because they went out of business many years ago).

In 2010, EASA forced all national CAAs to withdraw the safety belt overhaul permission from Part 145 companies that could not present the overhaul instructions from the original manufacturer.

Now EASA are about to issue an AD giving all aircraft owners that have an overhauled safety belt 18 months to prove that the overhaul was performed based on the original manufacturer's instructions. If unsuccessful, the safety belts have to be replaced.

The FAA have taken a much saner approach. They have issued Advisory Circular AC 21-25A describing how these safety belts can be overhauled when there are no instructions available. Due to the dual release agreement between EASA and FAA, US shops are still authorized to overhaul safety belts for European airplane owners (even without instructions from the manufacturer due to AC 21-25A).

This is absolutely insane and clearly demonstrates that despite all the promising things from EASA (instrument rating), there is still a core of incompetent bureaucrats harming the people of the union.

Insane indeed. Looking at the AD however it does not only affect GA but also airliners including most of the Airbus Fleet and possibly beyond as the list they give (which does not include my plane, but no good) is "not limited to" those listed.

I just wonder if these people are really beyond any legal challenge. Not only has EASA closed down all seat belt repair facilities in Europe by sheer willpower and therefore exported the business elsewhere, they now basically say that most seatbelts on European airplanes, though totally suitable and perfectly serviceable, will need replacement by products done abroad.

It appears to me that EASA really sees the only safe airplane the one which is grounded. Instead, they should be grounded and sent packing.

LSZH(work) LSZF (GA base), Switzerland

Interesting overkill.

Buried deep in the maintenance requirements for Cessnas, there is a requirement form Cessna that seatbelts be replaced every ten years. I was presented with this when I took a C207 I used to fly, in for its 100 hour inspection, and the inspector caught this. Ten years is conservative, though I agree with the spirit of this, as seatbelt webbing does not retain it's mechanical characteristics forever!

For convenience, here is what AC43.13-1B 9-46 says about seatbelts:

"b. Safety Belts shall be of an approved type. All seat belts and restraint systems must conform to standards established by the FAA. These standards are contained in Technical Standard Order TSO C22 for seat belts and TSO C114 for restraint systems.

(1) Safety belts eligible for installation in aircraft must be identified by the proper TSO markings on the belt. Each safety belt must be equipped with an approved metal to metal latching device. Airworthy type certificated safety belts currently in aircraft may be removed for cleaning and reinstalled. However, when a TSO safety belt is found unairworthy, replacement with a new TSO-approved belt or harness is required.

(2) The webbing of safety belts, even when mildew-proofed, is subject to deterioration due to constant use, cleaning, and the effects of aging. Fraying of belts is an indication of wear, and such belts are likely to be unairworthy because they can no longer hold the minimum required tensile load.

(3) Safety belts shall be repaired in accordance with specifications approved by the responsible FAA ACO."

Though I manufacture STC approved baggage nets for aircraft, I have not dipped my toe into the murky pool of approved procedures for making seatsbelts. It's no more difficult, just one of those "motherhood" type things which we are not supposed to challenge.

While EASA busy making up new stumbling blocks for aircraft operators, perhaps they should consider that seatbelts with the placarded requirement capacity of 1500 pounds meet the requirement to restrain a 170 pound (the design requirement occupant weight) for the required 9G crash load. However, this occupant weight is not a limitation. Why?

EVERYTHING else we do in an aircraft will be bound by a limitation, but we can, with no apparent limitation, seat and belt in an occupant of any weight we want. I have complained to Transport Canada about this, while seated in an exit row with a 400+ pound person, flying to Yellowknife NWT. TC told me that they would not act on my complaint, as doing so would violate human rights. They seemed empathetic when I told them that the human rights of the person seated in front of him were also being violated, as in the crash, they would be squashed. My argument was not persuasive....

I will watch this with great interest...

Home runway, in central Ontario, Canada, Canada

It appears to me that EASA really sees the only safe airplane the one which is grounded. Instead, they should be grounded and sent packing.

This is the general attitude of our agency (heavily influenced and controled by EASA) towards general aviation :)

LDZA LDVA, Croatia
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