FAA alerting plane owners to leak threat

November 19, 1990|By Fort Worth Star-Telegram

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The Federal Aviation Administration will alert aircraft owners across the nation this week that hydraulic fittings sold by a North Texas company could be corroding.

The fittings, sold by Bailey Hydraulics in Southlake to aircraft manufacturers and repair shops nationwide, could possibly have been identified as being suitable for carrying corrosive fluids when they are not, officials said.

The rarely issued notice, called an airworthiness alert, stems from an ongoing criminal investigation by a federal panel into whether Bailey Hydraulics intentionally mislabeled the parts to sell them at a higher price, sources close to the investigation told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last week.

The parts are interchangeable among many aircraft and could be on aircraft ranging from single-engine airplanes and helicopters to the largest and fastest aircraft in the world. Sources say it could cost airline and aircraft owners hundreds of thousands of dollars to detect and replace the defective parts.

"There could literally be thousands of these parts on aircraft throughout the world," said an official close to the investigation. "The parts could be on F-16s in the Persian Gulf, on DC-10s

carrying passengers, on little airplanes that you and I fly for pleasure."

Repeated attempts by the Star-Telegram to reach officials at Bailey Hydraulics were unsuccessful.

Federal investigators believe that the company has sold parts to several major airlines, and to General Dynamics Corp. and Bell Helicopter Textron for use in the high-performance aircraft those companies build in Fort Worth.

There have been no known aviation accidents or injuries in which a part sold by Bailey Hydraulics has failed, officials said.

"The most you would notice would be some corrosion on the outside or possibly a hydraulic leak," said one investigator. "The chances of a catastrophic failure are remote."

tTC The alert will be sent to all aircraft operators and manufacturers in the United States and will be distributed worldwide through the FAA's offices abroad, officials said.

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