How are those PA-31 Cowls

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pelmet
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How are those PA-31 Cowls

#1 Post by pelmet » Wed Aug 29, 2018 1:40 pm

There is a possibility that I might get a chance to fly a PA-31. I remember the King Air having an issue with engine cowls in which you wanted to do a very careful walkaround or else you might have one open in flight as they could appear to be latched when in fact they were not. In fact one of our pilots had the president of the company on board and guess what happened.

Anyways, Is there an issue with PA-31 cowls. The reason I decided to ask was because of this incident below....

"C-GEUA, a Piper PA-31 aircraft registered to Tintina Air, was conducting a flight from Whitehorse/Erik Nielsen Intl, YT (CYXY) for Ross River, YT (CYDM). Shortly after leveling off at cruise altitude, the upper cowling for the number 1 engine detached. The pilot reduced the airspeed, declared an emergency and returned for a landing at CYXY. There was no other damage to the aircraft, and no handling issues."
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Big Pistons Forever
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Re: How are those PA-31 Cowls

#2 Post by Big Pistons Forever » Wed Aug 29, 2018 4:32 pm

Part of your type training should include what to look for on the walk around. PA 31 cowl security can be easily determined if you know what to look for. If this issue is not specifically addressed in your training get an AME to show you.
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Re: How are those PA-31 Cowls

#3 Post by pelmet » Wed Aug 29, 2018 5:13 pm

Big Pistons Forever wrote:
Wed Aug 29, 2018 4:32 pm
Part of your type training should include what to look for on the walk around. PA 31 cowl security can be easily determined if you know what to look for. If this issue is not specifically addressed in your training get an AME to show you.
What do you look for?
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Re: How are those PA-31 Cowls

#4 Post by PilotDAR » Wed Aug 29, 2018 6:53 pm

On a Navajo... Nose baggage door latched and LOCKED! 'Same for other twins with nose baggage or wing lockers. Locking the baggage door of any aircraft has merit, unless it actually could act as an emergency exit.
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Re: How are those PA-31 Cowls

#5 Post by Big Pistons Forever » Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:43 pm

The issue with the cowl is that fasteners on the both sides of the cowl are a set of rods which need to be tightened down by rotating the slotted fasteners on the cowl. All of the side fasteners should have the slot parallel to the ground with no gap between the upper and lower cowl half's. This is important because the side fasteners can be turned to what looks like the locked setting without engaging if the cowl half's are not tight together when they are turned. I I have seen this issue twice on a walk around. Both times the cowl was not secure.

Also the there are fasteners that attach the cowl half's together in the air inlets at the front of the cowl. All of the fasteners should be in place with no holes indicating a missing fastener
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Re: How are those PA-31 Cowls

#6 Post by LifeAt90Kts » Wed Aug 29, 2018 8:38 pm

Not the greatest picture (and no I wasn’t flying) but our cowl bolts are all painted red, so it’s very obvious when one is out of place. I check the security of the cowling on every walk around, I haven’t found one out of place yet (fingers crossed).


As for the nose baggage door as pilotDAR mentioned, it’s company policy to do a security check before every take off. I physically walk around the aircraft and confirm the cabin door, wing lockers, fuel caps, and baggage door are all closed and locked before I hop in. Every single time. I think one of those is more likely to get you before a loose cowl bolt.
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Re: How are those PA-31 Cowls

#7 Post by Rowdy » Wed Aug 29, 2018 9:46 pm

Never had an issue with the PA31 cowls. I was always way more concerned about the front baggage door.

Only once came across a BE10 cowl that wasn't secured properly during a walk around.
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Re: How are those PA-31 Cowls

#8 Post by wrenchturner » Thu Aug 30, 2018 5:35 am

There is an AD on the nose baggage door that if I remember right, the lock has to be replaced every 1000 hours and the new locks, you can't remove the key unless its locked. There is also a 100 hour repetitive inspection component to the AD.
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Re: How are those PA-31 Cowls

#9 Post by rigpiggy » Fri Aug 31, 2018 7:45 am

Correct on the ad, inspect for obvious wear, and try to remove key without handle being in place. . A lot of ho's have an extra latch on both cowls, and doors. A flip over catch keeps the door handle flush, and an exterior plate joining the front of the cowls..... these may or may not be tc approved.
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Re: How are those PA-31 Cowls

#10 Post by pelmet » Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:58 pm

Reading up on Navajo's. Check out this accident. Lost one prop resulting in engine separation and took out the other engine. Pilot recovered from a spin and landed in a field. Pic in the report.....

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.u ... G-BMGH.pdf
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Re: How are those PA-31 Cowls

#11 Post by oldtimer » Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:18 pm

There are lots of horror stories about Navajo cowls coming apart and most are caused by careless people not fastening them properly. I have had to oil door on the top of the cowl come open because it was not closed properly and it just flops fully open and lays there with no problem. I have also had the latch of the wing lockers come undone and again the wing locker door stays closed and the handle sits fully up. Two areas to be careful of. The upper portion of the main cabin entrance, the cargo door, the wing locker doors and the nose baggage doors are held open on the ground with struts that look like a gas strut like what is used on an SUV but they have a mechanical lock that has to be released so do not let "helpful" untrained passengers help you out by closing the doors because they will treat them like a gas strut and they will bend or damage the doors. Only allow trained people to open or close any door or hatches.
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Re: How are those PA-31 Cowls

#12 Post by jakester » Tue Sep 04, 2018 5:26 pm

years ago Peace Air had one depart the aircraft after takeoff...….the owner's bonehead son didn't lock it down and if I remember correctly it was never found or nobody admitted it.
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