MIAMI – The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a new airworthiness directive (AD) for Embraer regional jets landing gears.

The new AD needs additional general visual checks of the main landing gear on Embraer ERJ135 and ERJ145 aircraft. This AD follows one released by Embraer’s home country, Brazil, for the same aircraft.

The new AD directs airlines to perform a general visual inspection of the main landing gear on both the right and left sides. If an adverse condition is discovered, airlines must address it before returning the aircraft to commercial passenger service.

In the United States, the AD extends to all Embraer ERJ135 and ERJ145 versions. This includes, among others, the ERJ-135LR, ERJ145ER, ERJ145LR, and ERJ145XR. The AD takes effect on April 20.

United Express (ExpressJet Airlines) N11164 Embraer ERJ-145. Photo: Andrew Henderson/Airways

The Embraer ERJ135/145

The ERJ135s have a maximum capacity of 37 passengers, while the ERJ145s have a maximum capacity of 50 passengers. The Embraer ERJ145 is the most popular of both aircraft types operating for commercial airlines in the United States.

The ERJ145s are mostly used as regional feeder jets, flying from mainline hubs to smaller destinations. CommutAir (C5), which operates under the United Express banner on behalf of United Airlines (UA), is the world’s largest ERJ145 operator.

Contour Airlines (LF), Envoy Air (MQ), and Piedmont Airlines (PT), which operate ERJ145s on behalf of American Airlines (AA) under the American Eagle banner, are three other operators in the US. Internationally, Mexican carrier TAR Aerolineas (YQ) operates the type.

TAR Aerolineas XA-NFP Embraer ERJ-145. Photo: Brad Tisdel/Airways

Aircraft Issues and Corrections

In February, the Brazilian National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) released an advisory covering the same jet types. After a warning of a disconnection of a sidearm strut from the right MLG, Brazil released the AD. The sidearm strut lower bearing was mounted inverted on the aircraft, according to further investigation.

While one instance does not necessitate a particular AD, additional inverted installations were discovered during inspections on other aircraft. Other issues were found, such as defective or lacking sealant or grease fittings that had been mounted improperly.

As a result, the FAA followed Brazil in releasing an AD about the MLG sidearm strut disconnection. According to the FAA, a disconnect may prevent the MLG from being locked in the down position, causing the airplane to lose control during takeoff and landing.

According to the FAA, the inspection will take one work hour to complete. For an airline’s per-work-hour rate of US$85 in the US, the overall cost for 304 jets is estimated to be US$25,840.

If an adverse condition is discovered that necessitates a repair, which is expected to affect an undetermined number of planes, the FAA estimates that the parts will cost more than US$14,500 per plane and that labor will take six hours. At the aforementioned rate per hour for labor, the overall cost of the component and labor per aircraft is just over US$15,000.

Featured image: Contour Airlines N16511 Embraer ERJ-135. photo: Mateo Skinner/Airways