Sun N’ Fun Countdown: New wing bolts!

One of the Debonair's ugly old corroded wing bolts

One of the Debonair’s ugly old corroded wing bolts

New wing bolts from Beechcraft to the rescue!

New wing bolts from Beechcraft to the rescue!

New wing bolt, installed in its fitting

New wing bolt, installed in its fitting

Most owners of Beech Bonanzas and Debonairs know that their wing attach bolts have been singled out for special scrutiny over the years. As part of the Sweepstakes Debonair’s annual inspection, these bolts were checked for corrosion. There’s a lot of lore and yarns about the wing-bolt issue. However, an Airworthiness Directive has never been issued to replace them periodically. The only service recommendation, according to the American Bonanza Society, is to inspect them every 15 years. Personally, that seems mild to me. I mean, these bolts hold the wings on the airplane, no?

So to be on the conservative side, we pulled the bolt covers (they’re at the wing root, on the upper surface of the wing) and saw–light surface corrosion. Well, what did you expect after 50 years? Then came a debate. Do we pull the bolts and take a close look at them? I think you know the answer to that one. We pulled the bolts and they did, indeed, have corrosion. The fittings were OK, and the drain holes in the “bathtubs” that surround the bolts were open, which meant that any water had been draining through the critical area–and not pooling inside it and creating serious corrosion. (Does anyone else think that a wing-attachment design that tends to trap water is somehow ill-conceived?)

When I got word of this, paranoia struck. Where in the world would we find replacement wing bolts for a 50-year old airplane? Turns out, Beechcraft still makes them, and they’re still in stock. Santa Fe Aero Services ordered up a set, had them overnighted, and they were at the shop the next day. What price peace of mind? For the entire set of eight wing bolts, a total just shy of $1,000.

  • tony

    Now your talking

  • tony

    good job. Keep me safe

  • Patrick

    Glad to see you’re going the extra mile on my future aircraft. No shortcuts when it comes to safety.

  • David Duganne

    Does “Beech coming to the rescue” mean 8 bolts for a kilobuck is actually a discounted price??

  • Dave

    I believe that you (or maybe your ABS contact) got the “inspection” requirements wrong – at least in regard to how it is specified in most Beech service manuals. The requirement is an inspection at 5 years, a “re-inspection” at 10 years, and at 15 years, you are “supposed” to replace them regardless of condition. The real argument among aviation “legal” scholars is whether that requirement constitutes a life-limit and is mandatory, but most folks now side with the interpretation that under Part 91 it is not mandatory or enforcable.