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Jabiru engine failures

Old 22nd Dec 2014, 01:34
  #301 (permalink)  
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Hot off the presses and not even Christmas Eve

Precautions for Jabiru powered aircraft
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority will place a set of precautionary operating limitations on aircraft powered by Jabiru engines.

These precautionary limitations follow a high number of Jabiru engine failures and power loss incidents, some of which resulted in aircraft forced landings.

More than 45 Jabiru engine failures or in-flight engine incidents have been reported in 2014, with CASA recently becoming aware of incidents in previous years.

Problems with Jabiru engines include failures of through bolts, flywheel bolts and valve train assemblies, as well as cylinder cracking.

The failures affect a range of Jabiru engine models and have occurred in aircraft used in different flying activities, although many have been reported in aircraft used for flying training.

CASA is currently working with Jabiru and other stakeholders to identify the causes of the engine problems and to implement appropriate solutions.

Causes being investigated include design and mechanical issues, how aircraft are flown, and maintenance-related issues.

While this investigative work is ongoing, the precautionary limitations are primarily intended to reduce risks for people on the ground and trainee pilots flying solo. The limitations also ensure that trainee pilots flying solo and passengers understand and accept the risk of a Jabiru engine failure.

The limitations:

Restrict flights to day time under the visual flight rules
Require aircraft to be flown so they can at all times glide clear of a populous area
Require passengers and trainee pilots flying solo to sign a statement saying they are aware of and accept the risk of an engine failure
Require trainee pilots to have recently and successfully completed engine failure exercises before solo flights.
CASA consulted with the aviation community on the Jabiru limitations, receiving more than 630 comments. Many pilots maintained they had the right to accept the risk of engine power loss and argued that this right should be extended to passengers and trainee pilots.

CASA revised the proposed limitations after taking account of the consultation comments and other relevant information, and considers that the limitations now to be made appropriately manage the safety risks.

A copy of the limitations. The limitations must be registered by the Australian Government Office of Parliamentary Counsel, at which time CASA will publish a further notice stating that the limitations are in force.
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Old 22nd Dec 2014, 01:57
  #302 (permalink)  
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Require passengers and trainee pilots flying solo to sign a statement saying they are aware of and accept the risk of an engine failure
I wonder what risk exactly that one mitigates?

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Old 22nd Dec 2014, 02:59
  #303 (permalink)  
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the primary risk mitigated by anything CAsA does, decides, promulgates, decrees,
orders, threatens.... The "LIABILITY RISK MITIGATION"...That has become CAsA's primary function, which is why they should take the letter S out of their title.
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Old 22nd Dec 2014, 04:16
  #304 (permalink)  
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Thanks Ndegi, you are only 2 days late with the news! It's on the previous pages.

A number of operators have already started getting their aircraft out of Moorabbin and Soar have sourced alternate aircraft.
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Old 22nd Dec 2014, 07:24
  #305 (permalink)  
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Published this afternoon by RAAUS.

I have taken the highlighter pen to it just for fun.

As most people are aware, CASA published a draft instrument on 13 November 2014 which would have the effect of restricting the operations of aircraft with a Jabiru powerplant. This would affect more than 1000 RA-Aus registered aircraft and have an adverse impact on some two thirds of our flight training facilities.

Since the publication of this draft instrument RA-Aus has been working hard to understand the justification for these restrictions. We have, for some time, known that Jabiru engines have a higher tendency for failure than their Rotax counterpart and welcome any appropriate changes that would improve their reliability. We would also welcome any measures that result in improved reliability and safety of any aspect of our fleet. Having said this we are troubled by the process employed by CASA and especially the lack of transparency in terms of the implementation of these proposed measures.

RA-Aus has repeatedly requested the information used to justify statements made by CASA that claim the failure rate is increasing. We have also requested the analysis of said data in order to assess the veracity of these claims.

On 17 December 2014, almost five weeks after the draft instrument was published, RA-Aus received the data and was provided one, yes one, working day to respond. As one would expect we would have liked much more time to assess the data, understand the analysis and then form an opinion on the suitability of the proposed measures, however, regardless of taking some five weeks to provide the data, CASA allowed one day. In light of this our response was somewhat rushed.

Despite this, RA-Aus was able to note that the data provided to CASA on Jabiru engine failures only covered one partial year. The only time series data made available to us (although not provided to us) was via the ATSB. That is, no engine failure data beyond the beginning of 2014 was used by CASA to justify their position and they left us to infer what data the ATSB had provided.

With reference to the latter, RA-Aus has contested the validity of the ATSB data on the basis that it shows a decline in the hours flown by the RA-Aus fleet. This is in direct contrast to Government published figures which show a doubling in the number of hours flown since 2000.

This led us to a simple conclusion Ė CASA has not undertaken robust analysis on reliable data to establish with any degree of accuracy that the failure rate of Jabiru engines is increasing over time. This is despite their statement that they have found statistically significant evidence in support of their claims.

RA-Ausí position is, as stated above, that the failure rate of Jabiru engines is greater than that of Rotax engines but that it is not worsening as per the unsubstantiated statement made by CASA.

In light of this RA-Aus responded to CASA, within their incredibly tight and unrealistic timeframe, to state that we oppose their draft instrument and suggested an alternative approach to addressing the real concerns. While CASA acknowledged that our response had merit within 24 hours of receipt they proceeded with the restrictions without due consideration of our arguments.

While the restrictions imposed on our members are less stringent than those originally proposed, our opinion is that they are still inappropriate. Furthermore, CASA has remained evasive in terms of providing information relating to what rate of failures would be deemed acceptable and so we remain uninformed as to what point the restrictions will be lifted other than the statement on the CASA website regarding a review by CASA early in the New Year and the six month validity of the proposed Instrument. We will continue to work with CASA and Jabiru in an attempt to address these issues, however, we canít provide further information at this point.

RA-Aus is extremely worried about these actions and what this may mean for private aviation in Australia. Being the fastest growing sector of aviation it concerns us that unilateral action has been taken by the regulator that is not backed up by robust evidence which suggests the action is justified. It worries us that this precedent has the potential for further restrictions that may not be warranted based on incomplete data, deficient analysis and/or misleading claims. We also have concerns about the implications of CASAs decision and what it means for all self-administered aviation organisations as Part 149 is implemented.

RA-Aus will focus our efforts on improving safety in our sector by reviewing training methods and practices, improving our education programs, communicating safety findings (where permitted by law) and so forth. We will also remain very focussed on the outcomes of CASAs recent actions, the Governments recent announcements about the recommendations of the ASRR report and continue to hold CASA to the same high standards that they demand of the aviation industry.
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Old 22nd Dec 2014, 10:16
  #306 (permalink)  
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Well done to CASA, these engines have been a problem for a long time now and there were internal reasons why the RAA didn't act on the problem but at least now any passenger who gets into the Jab will be warned of the risks of engine failure with these badly designed engines, hopefully Jabiru will now take things seriously and get the problems sorted.
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Old 22nd Dec 2014, 11:10
  #307 (permalink)  
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The RAA do not have the authority to act... It doesn't work like that.

They did "act" though, they advised CASA that they should take action and they did.
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Old 22nd Dec 2014, 12:03
  #308 (permalink)  
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Actually the RAA did the opposite, they vigorously opposed the actions proposed by CASA but one of the reasons might be that they didn't want to go against their sponsor and loose income themselves??

Jabiru has had years to sort this engine problem out but for some reason they haven't done so, I don't know why?? but their engines have a very bad name in the industry which is a shame because the airframe has no real issues. If they could retro fit the Rotax engine that would fix all their problems.

Anyway CASA has done what it had to do, companies go broke all the time and new companies start up, CASA shouldn't worry about the company and their profit margins or shareholders, they need to worry about the public that get in these RAA aircraft.

I don't always support CASA, but as many people in the industry have said they have got this one right.
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Old 22nd Dec 2014, 12:05
  #309 (permalink)  
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Whatever happened to Ultralights being about chainsaw engines and experimental designs? RAA should decide if they want to administer ultralights or GA-lite, and advocate rule changes accordingly.
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Old 22nd Dec 2014, 12:10
  #310 (permalink)  
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I'm glad RA Aus are looking forward to a constructive role but I wouldn't be looking for any moral high ground in their past positions and actions in the Jabiru matter. I've already made some comments about the lack of publicly available statistical and other information for the recreational aviation consumer and, if RA Aus feel the ATSB anlaysis is flawed, they can put forward their own analysis. After all, if RA Aus has been doing its job, it has the best raw data available.

While I was mightily disappointed with the naivety and self-serving content of the Dec RA Aus letter to CASA, perhaps the dust has settled on the organizational musical chairs and there is a better future ahead. As a GA and RA Aus pilot I hope that's true, especially as the current arrangement gives RA Aus effective monopoly status in recreational licensing. Superficially, the RPL could be considered a challenge to that position but the RPL comes with enough strings attached to make the RA Aus path well worth preserving.

I have a lot of sympathy for the financial representations being made by RA Aus. If CASA expect them to run recreational aviation, there should be adequate funding provided for the job, without the reality or appearance of reliance on much industry sponsorship. In turn, I'd be keen to see more of any new funding, and my membership dollars, go on safety and technical functions of the organization. With any luck we've been through the nadir in those regards.

Last edited by tecman; 22nd Dec 2014 at 15:38.
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Old 22nd Dec 2014, 19:55
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I see the usual axe grinders and fools have invaded this thread and there needs to be a return to the substance of the topic and the reason for its notoriety.

This is not about Jabiru engines per se, RAA in fighting and politics, Jabiru customer service or the personality of the company’s owner, it is about the high handed actions of CASA that threaten the existence of a large chunk of private aviation in this country!

I care not one whit about Jabiru engines but I do care very much about how, to the glee of some posters here, CASA is being allowed to trample over due process because they are setting a precedent that affects ALL of us. I care very much about that.

To put that another way in terms you might understand, today CASA attacks Jabiru with as the RAA letter points out, no due process, no rigorous and scientific data, just the half assed assertion that the engine is "unsafe" which is meaningless.

Furthermore, they justify this action by claiming a right to protect "people on the ground" from Jabirus falling out of the sky which is just insane. How many people have been killed in Australia on the ground by errant light aircraft since 1979 (Essendon crash)? Zero.

The CASA action is so wrong on so many levels that it must be strenuously opposed.

To put this into perspective how are you going to react when CASA decides to go on a crusade against the much loved Dynon Skyview instrument system using the same tactics as against Jabiru?

Don't any of you understand the nature of what is being done here? If they can do it to Jabiru they can do it to you.

Don't any of you understand that by this action, CASA is thumbing its nose at the conclusions of the Truss Aviation Review, its authors, contributors and the Australian Senate? Can there be any more obvious demonstration of the complete breakdown of trust in CASA than the action against Jabiru???

As for this being a temporary situation and a minor issue, I have explained that it isn't. Now that CASA has declared that Jabiru engines are a danger to the community, they cannot again become unrestricted without a mountain of evidence that they are safe, and that mountain has to be high enough to satisfy not engineers but CASAs lawyers, anyone care to guess how high? Mount Everest perhaps? I fail to see how these restrictions can ever be removed short of full certification testing which is prohibitively expensive.

By the way, although CASA cannot apply the "fit and proper person" test to Jabirus manager, I'll bet London to a brick that a condition of any relaxation of any restrictions will depend on the owner no longer having any active management role in the company.

If CASA was bound by the same strictures as the FAA to at least not harm the industry it regulates; this is what could have been done:

(1) CASA consults with Jabiru presenting a watertight safety case for action based on hard data.

(2) Jabiru issues a service bulletin and CASA and Jabiru make a joint statement requiring its completion as a necessary precaution.

(3) As the results of the SB inspections come in CASA and Jabiru make a joint analysis and report back to the aviation community on progress and further actions required.

(4) CASA and Jabiru report case closed.
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Old 22nd Dec 2014, 21:55
  #312 (permalink)  
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Hear, bloody hear Sunny, well said!
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Old 23rd Dec 2014, 02:39
  #313 (permalink)  
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Well said Sunny

When you get a clown like 727forever (an obvious troll) posting in CASA's favour on his very second post you wonder what is happening to both this forum and the industry. I am gobsmacked that anyone can support CASA on this issue. As others have pointed out, ultralights got underway with lawnmower engines. Now the RAA is popular for obvious reasons CASA want to reassert themselves despite handing over reins to an independent association.

Be very alarmed folks.
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Old 23rd Dec 2014, 04:49
  #314 (permalink)  
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Just happened to be having chat with a Barrister today, who happened to be right in the thick of the biggest inquiry we have seen.

His views on CASA, the way they behaved and continue to are very much aligned with the rest of us. He seemed to think the common belief here about outsourcing was appropriate also.

The whole aviation regulation and investigation industry needs scrapping and starting again, but none of us are surprised at that either.
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Old 24th Dec 2014, 01:08
  #315 (permalink)  
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I have a J160C (primary category, not LSA) Jabiru on cross-hire to an RA-Aus flying school. Here is my story...

The airframe has 1400 hours on it. It's now on its 4th Jabiru 2200 engine.

The first engine broke a through-bolt at 675 hours approx. It was maintained by a LAME/Level 2 and was maintained in accordance with the "Jabiru J160 and J170 Aircraft Service Manual". The through-bolt breakage happened without warning or any visible signs of fretting or oil-leakage around cylinder-bases. It happened just after reducing power at the beginnning of descent. The engine continued to run, albeit roughly and the pilot was reluctant to turn it off as the residual thrust was much-appreciated. It got the aircraft safely back to a runway, sustaining serious engine-damage but with no airframe damage or crew injuries.

The engine was overhauled (zero-timed) by Jabiru Aircraft Engines. For reasons which have never been explained they re-used one cylinder from the pair that were associated with the broken through-bolt. Within a few hours that cylinder had cracked around the base and the engine went back to Jabiru Aircraft engines for repair under warranty.

The third incarnation of the engine developed a habit of very rough running at high power settings shortly after being placed back into service. After several checks by the engineer the engine was removed and sent back to Jabiru Aircraft Engines. They were unable to duplicate the symptoms and returned the engine after some more work. The engine still exhibited the same behaviour. Eventually the cure was found to be in reducing the throttle-travel by approximately 1/4". No satisfactory cause for the symptoms was ever found...even swapping out the carburettor made no difference, and the throttle-stroke had not been altered since the engine had been removed. By now the aircraft had been off cross-hire for the best part of nine months. My financial losses were something I really didn't care to think about, and I just gritted my teeth and reminded myself "in time, this too shall pass."

After approximately another 600 hours or so this engine (in its fourth incarnation) broke a stud at the rear top of No. 4 cylinder, but continued to run and in fact performed three circuits before steadily reducing oil-pressure and more noise at takeoff-power than seemed normal made the pilot land and investigate. The engine was removed and top-end overhauled by Jabiru Aircraft Engines, who were extremely helpful and did their best to get the aircraft back in the air as quickly as possible.

(An aside:- Unfortunately, the courier delivering the engine after repair managed somehow to either hit the wooden box with a forklift, or drop it, because the repaired engine was received obviously damaged, and the wooden shipping-box was heavily damaged. It was returned for repair under warranty. Jabiru Aircraft Engines were again very helpful.)

As a result of all this, I have concluded the little Jabiru 2.2l engine is a tough piece of gear, inasmuch as it will often still run with a major failure, at least long enough to give the pilot a good chance of finding somewhere to carry out a forced-landing.

The Jabiru airframe is "unkillable", and has excellent handling for a training-aircraft, with the added benefit of being relatively low-maintenance due to the use of composites in its construction. (This applies to all models, not just the J160.)

For those two reasons, and the fact my Jabiru isn't LSA-registered, I will keep the aircraft on cross-hire, with all the attendant risks - and work with the restrictions placed on it for as long as they remain in place.

All I want is a Jabiru 2.2L engine which will get to 1000 hours for its top-end overhaul without throwing a valve, breaking a stud or breaking a through-bolt. All the 3.3L Jab engine-owners want is pretty much the same.

One problem I see is Jabiru engines are still "works-in-progress". As soon as they get a reliable design, they promptly go and change something and introduce a whole raft of new problems. The solid-lifter engines were pretty reliable units and many go to 2000 hours without any issues and are still running well when they are torn down and rebuilt. They are simple, with just enough parts in them to actually work.

The change to hollow push-rods and hydraulic lifters seemed (admittedly anecdotally) to be the beginning of the through-bolt issues. The change of manufacturers of exhaust-valves seemed to be marked by an outbreak of valve-failures. Machining valve-head clearance grooves in the latest pistons is a step in the right direction, but wouldn't buying a better quality exhaust-valve in the first place be a better one? I know Jabiru have to operate on the "no expense is spared to keep the cost down" principle, but I'd happily pay an extra hundred dollars if it meant my exhaust-valves would make it to 1000 hours before replacement, instead of some ridiculously short times before failure I have seen in two 3.3L Jabiru engines in my local area.

That said, I'm not an aircraft engine-designer, so what would I know anyway? I just fly them. In 700 hours behind Jabiru engines I have had 2 partial engine-failures. In 1100 hours behind Rotax 2-stroke engines I only had one. I don't know how many hours I have behind Rotax 912 engines (not all that many probably) but I've never had one fail me yet, nor do I expect to, but if any engine I am flying with fails, I have a plan.

I'm also a pragmatist. I don't have the luxury of being able to thunder on about CASA's high-handedness, or setting a dangerous precedent, or the legality or otherwise of the whole rattling affair. I have my own opinion on what CASA needs, but that is a subject for another time and another thread. Nor am I a statistician, so anything I might say about the reliability of CASA's data, or how it was sourced, collated and analysed has no merit - so I shan't comment there either.

However, I do know what I want, and what I don't want, when it comes to Jabiru aircraft. I don't want Jabiru Aircraft to fail, nor do I want to have Jabiru Aircraft Engines fail as a company. Neither do I want to re-engine my J160C with a Rotax 912 because there are significant weight penalties for doing so, and the Rotax is not the 2000-hour wonder everyone thinks it is. It might be a 1500-hour TBO engine, and there is also a years since manufacture limit on them as well...some 912s require a mandatory overhaul after 15 years, irrespective of hours run. The Rotax 912 is not a cheap engine to buy, it isn't cheap to repair, and not all are 2000-hour TBO engines.

I just want a reliable Jabiru engine which will make it to the 1000-hour top-end overhaul, and eventually to the 2000-hour rebuild. Surely that's not too much to ask...and I really don't care how this is obtained. I want a result, not procedures and limitations designed to placate the regulator and cover its ample posterior.

So, all I can do is live with the restrictions placed on my aircraft, and endure what has to be endured until this sorry affair is finally laid to rest. What has to come out of this is a better engine from Jabiru, otherwise this has been a massive exercise in futility reflecting little credit on just about all concerned.

"In time, this too shall pass."
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Old 24th Dec 2014, 08:34
  #316 (permalink)  
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Wonderful well written summary there, criticalmass - hope you get your wish, seeing as it's Christmas and all!
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Old 24th Dec 2014, 11:15
  #317 (permalink)  
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You might be "lucky" criticalmass not being LSA, as when Camit CAE certify their engine through CASA which hopefully isn't far away, you will be able to fit on to your aircraft or at least have an upgrade performed to the latest spec at a much lower cost than a new one. Unfortunately LSA owners won't get this luxury unless Jabiru signs off on it.
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Old 31st Dec 2014, 23:40
  #318 (permalink)  
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The limitation applies to experimental category too
Guess ill replace my 900 hr problem free 3300 with homemade triple mounted chainsaw based engine, then it will be limitation free and it appears CASA thinks more reliable?
Only one form to fill out I think
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Old 4th Jan 2015, 07:45
  #319 (permalink)  
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As the single-page waiver CASA require passengers in Jabiru-powered aircraft to read and sign (and return to CASA if a serious incident or accident occurs) is patently designed to cover CASA's generous posterior in case a Jabiru-powered aircraft falls out of the sky and hits a third-prty, or damages third-party property, a thought occurs...

What would the media reaction - and the CASA reaction - be, if people pasted hundreds of these waivers all over the walls of the building in which CASA has its headquarters, like the way posters advertising concerts, public meetings etc are slapped up on poles, walls etc?

Maybe the media exposure might bring this sorry affair to a wider audience. Just a random thought after a glass of a very good red wine.
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Old 4th Jan 2015, 08:15
  #320 (permalink)  
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I'm confused and also not surprised.

The latest version of this instrument was released on Saturday December 20th saying that it needed to go before Parliament, however would be enforced by Christmas, but we all know parliament doesn't sit till late January. It has been suggested to me that CASA do not have the power to enforce such actions without parliamentary approval.

I then check the website today and find out that the instrument came into effect on 23rd December (practically Christmas Eve as we all predicted).

Does anyone else remember the reference to parliament? I should have screen captured it, doh

How is an owner expected to know this and not break the law? I've seen no emails about it, nothing from CASA, zip. Is an owner / operator expected to check the latest media release section on the CASA website considering this instrument bans Jabirus operating into Bankstown for example. Too bad if you landed there and didn't know !
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