• A Jabiru 2200 engine. (Jabiru)
    A Jabiru 2200 engine. (Jabiru)

Jabiru Aircraft has lashed out at the ATSB over an investigation report released this week into engine failures in GA aeroplanes.

The report analysed 332 failures, but focused on the 130 incidents involving Jabiru-engined aeroplanes. According to Jabiru's Sue Woods, the ATSB report and conclusions have several failings.

"Interrogation of the data behind the statistics in this ATSB report is lacking to a great extent," Woods told Australian Flying.

"Many of the incidents have less to do with engine failures and more to do with things like fuel exhaustion, contaminated fuel, carburettor icing, modified engines, maintenance operation and many other contributing factors.

"The ATSB has based the report on the data given in reports, which is often no more than a one-line description. To my knowledge, the ATSB has never investigated a report involving a Jabiru engine failure!

"They could have written the report without trying to scare people away from Jabiru They could have given the information with a more balanced approach.

"Their motivation in writing it the way they did has to be questioned."

Jabiru engines have been the subject of CASA-imposed limitations since December 2014, which has been disastrous for the company as many customers have been reluctant to buy aeroplanes that could be limited in operations. According to Woods, CASA put the limitations on despite Jabiru-powered aircraft having a better fatality record that some other comparable types.

"CASA seems to have forgotten the LSA rules they set up when they created the category. Allowing only two people and having a stall speed of 45 knots are all mitigating safety factors.

"When you take into account the rate of fatal accidents per number of aircraft registered, Jabiru comes at 0.3, compared with 1.6 for Tecnam, 2.8 for the Cessna 172 and 2.2 for the Vans RV series. But, it seems that CASA doesn't want to know about that."

In the meantime, CASA has responded to the report by stating they will not remove the limitations on Jabiru engines despite the company diagnosing and correcting issues, stating that they still need more information before deciding their next move.

"CASA is analysing data provided by Jabiru and from individual engine tear-down analyses conducted by Jabiru and independently under ATSB oversight.

"We are waiting for further data from Recreational Aviation Australia, and maintenance data on a number of individual engines, which will also need to be assessed.

"The ATSB’s final investigation report on Engine Failures and Malfunctions in Light Aeroplanes, which bears directly on key aspects of CASA’s concerns with Jabiru-powered aircraft, will also be taken into account before any decisions are made.

"CASA will review all the information available as quickly as possible.

"CASA expects to be in a position to decide whether the operational limitations can be withdrawn or relaxed before the current direction imposing the limitations expires at the end of June 2016. 

"Only after CASA can be satisfied that steps to effectively mitigate the safety risks with which we are concerned have been identified, however, will those limiting conditions be adjusted accordingly."


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