Owner of two aircraft claims engine crankshafts, made by the company last year are at risk of fracturing.

Staff Report

A class action lawsuit filed in Mobile Circuit Court seeks to force Teledyne Continental Motors to remove and test about 2,200 aircraft engine crankshafts that allegedly have fractured on at least seven occasions.

The suit-filed by Mobile attorney Richard Dorman on behalf of Raymond Lucia, who owns two aircraft with the supposedly defective crankshafts, claims the part can fracture in as little as 85 hours of operation. Teledyne Continental Motors, a subsidiary of Teledyne Industries Inc., builds piston engines for propeller-driven planes at its Mobile plant.

The suit, which seeks an unspecified amount of damages for Lucia and any other owners of planes with the crankshafts who join in the action, says that Teledyne Continental Issued a service bulletin on April 20 acknowledging that crankshafts made by the company last year are at risk of fracturing.

The bulletin states that "the cause of the fractures has been Identified as a discrepancy in the counterweight bushing Installation process," the suit claims, and that "Inspection is required since undetected cracks can lead to engine failure."

The lawsuit says the company is aware of at least-seven such crankshaft fractures and has undertaken ultrasound testing of the part while still in place in the engine. The suit describes the ultrasound testing as grossly Insufficient" and asks that the crankshafts be removed and subjected to magnafluxa testing, then replaced if cracks are found.

The suit says that the precise number and Identity of, people owning the crankshafts can be determined from Teledyne's files and that those people can then be notified of the lawsuit If they wish to join It.

In a prepared statement about the issue, Dorman said that "while no fatalities have been reported, the lawsuit contends the situation poses a grave risk to pilots."

Dorman said the bulletin Issued by Teledyne Continental "affects all new and factory-rebuilt engines of the 470-, 520- and 550-series with crankshafts made throughout ...1998."

Michael Kelly, a Los Angeles attorney representing the company, said he has not yet seen a copy of the lawsuit and could not comment on it.