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Fri, Jan 31, 2003

Lycoming Independent Advisory Panel

Leading Aviation Industry Experts to Provide Guidance on Issues Surrounding Recalls

Textron has announced the formation of an Independent Advisory Panel to advise on safety, quality and compliance systems and processes at its Lycoming business unit. The panel of aviation experts will be led by Michael J. Dreikorn, a former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) official and aerospace industry executive. The creation of the Panel is part of a broad-based program to address component reliability issues and recalls that affected certain Lycoming engines. (Lycoming is the leading manufacturer of piston engines for general aviation aircraft.)

"Safety is paramount, and we want experienced, world-class experts to bring an objective and critical perspective to our ongoing efforts to further ensure the integrity of our product and processes," said Textron Chief Operating Officer Steve Loranger.

Strong Bona Fides

Dreikorn is president of The IPL Group, LLC, a consulting firm with expertise in aerospace management systems, and was formerly vice president of quality assurance and product integrity at engine maker Pratt & Whitney. He is the former deputy division manager of the Production and Airworthiness Division of the FAA, with multiple FAA certificates and author of "ISO 9000 and the Federal Aviation Regulations." Other members of the panel will be announced shortly.

Ongoing Oversight

The panel will review and advise Textron and Lycoming on the long-term plan to address Lycoming's systems and processes relating to quality, safety and compliance. At key milestones in the plan, the panel will assess Lycoming's progress and make recommendations for improvement.

"Lycoming has a broad-based continuous improvement plan in place. We are implementing industry-leading quality and safety systems which will further enhance the strong reputation of Lycoming engines," said Richard Millman, executive-in-charge of Lycoming.

Piper Perspective

New Piper Aircraft, which of course receives a large number of those Lycoming engines, has been in a bind since the ADs were announced, with its production slowed, its deliveries (of certain models) all but stopped, and with its dealers' having to floor plan a lot of airplanes they can't sell, until the engines are taken care of. Piper's dealers, especially, are hard-hit -- they can't sell the planes; but they have to keep paying for them -- and their customers will wait just so long, before turning to another choice.

Cessna's dealers face similar troubles, though their product line is somewhat broader -- and Cessna is part of Textron (not that the parent's relationship would necessarily translate into preferential distribution...)

The damage extends far beyond the direct costs of repair and loss of use.

Mark Miller, Piper spokesman, told ANN, "While this appears to be a step in the right direction, the jury is still out on whether Textron Lycoming plans to address, fully, the significant financial damage that its engine recalls have inflicted on New Piper, our dealer network, and our customers. We sincerely hope that Textron-Lycoming steps up to the plate and repairs the damage to all concerned."

FMI: www.textron.lycoming.com; www.newpiper.com

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