It’s seems obvious that any aircraft manufacturer would want their product maintained in the safest manner possible, for all sorts of reasons. To that end, one would think these manufacturers would make all their most current service information readily available for free to anyone in need of it. Until about a year ago that was not the case at Cessna.

In the not too distant past, only authorized Cessna Service Stations had unfettered access to service bulletins, service letters, and service kit document. Anyone else could get the documents, but had to pay a small charge for each. It wasn’t much money unless you needed a copy of all the service bulletins, service letters, service news letters, and service kits for a Legacy plane like a 1962 182. The total number would easily pass 300 documents.

Wouldn’t it be great if Cessna created a web site with links to all these documents and made it free to everyone? 

Imagine this: the site could have a personal sign in and allow users to tailor the content to their specific airplane or group of planes. One might even be able to filter the documents by level of importance like “Mandatory”,
“Recommended”, “Optional” and “Informational.” Other information applicable to the end user could be put there, too, like POH revision levels so you can make sure you have the current, and therefore airworthy, version. Wouldn’t that be great?

Cessna Has It!

For reasons unknown to me, Cessna finally decided to make all these documents available for free to everyone through their web site at www.cessnasupport.com As a Cessna Service Station, I’ve been using this site for quite a while and have found it very easy to navigate and full of all the information I need. I thought I had all sorts of special powers until I was told that anybody could get the same access. Now you have the same special powers and can go straight to the source for the most current data available.

The site works very well using the Explorer web browser but has a few glitches if you try it in Chrome. I haven’t tried it in Firefox or the other browsers. Once at the CessnaSupport.com home page, you’ll see a “Customer  Service” menu box on the left side of the screen. In that box select “Customer  Access” which will take you to the sign in page. Click on the “Register” link and get yourself set up as a user. After you have all the secret hand shake information, you can log in to the the full site. There you will see a “My Information” window on the upper left welcoming you to the site. In that same box you will see some links to your specific aircraft information and another to customize the airplane models that will be monitored. Just below that, the “My Models” window shows a list of all the models you are monitoring for Cessna provided communiques. A green dot to the left of a model means there’s new information posted since you last visited, and a red dot means it’s just old news.

Across the top of the screen are other menu selections including “Technical Publications.” The drop down from this includes “Aircraft Publications”, and that’s where the technical publications like service bulletins will be. There you’ll see the various airplane model groups with three links below each one. For grins, click on the “Service Documents” link, and you’ll be taken to the search screen. Here you can enter any search filters you want.

You can enter the airplane model number for a generic search or the actual serial number for documents specific to one plane. If you enter serial number data, don’t bother with the model number as it’s just redundant and you’ll just be repeating yourself 🙂

A very nice filter provided is the “Compliance” drop down menu. You can limit the service bulletin search by level of importance: Mandatory, Recommended, Optional, or Informational. This is particularly helpful on the legacy planes, like the 1962 182, so you can access just the Mandatory bulletins if desired.

Once you click on the “Search” button, you’ll get a full list of bulletins that match your selected filters. The list will start with the latest issued document and work down to the oldest. By latest, I mean the date of the latest revision to a particular bulletin. You’ll notice the bulletins have a numbering system that includes the year the bulletin was issued. When a revision is made, the original number stays the same with a revision number added at the end. That’s why a 2007 bulletin may be listed above a 2010 bulletin.

There’s also a “Reference Document” column on the far right that has links to any related document like service kits. This is extremely helpful when trying to determine exactly how much effort will be required to comply with the bulletin.

Who Needs It and Why?

Anyone interested in properly maintaining an airplane needs this information which includes you, the aircraft owner. Cessna has bought into this idea in a big way with this web site. There’s even Twitter and Facebook for those of you that do that sort of thing. There’s a long list of YouTube videos you may find interesting as well. It’s a little heavy on the Citation information, but we piston pounders can excuse Cessna for that since the Citation side is what keeps the piston side on line.

But Wait, There’s More

You’ll find revision status for your POH, e-mail notices for just issued bulletins, listings of all sorts of information like paint schemes, and other non-critical documents that you can purchase directly from Cessna. They are also publishing an on-line magazine called Cessna’s Direct Approach which you’ll receive. It’s nicely put together and has some very interesting articles.

Cessna has developed a very worthwhile site for the benefit of all Cessna owners. There’s much more information available than I have discussed in this article, but I wouldn’t want to spoil your exploration fun. Just go to the site and start clicking on the links, like the kids do. There’s important info you need and want to know.

Copyright © Paul New 2012. All rights reserved.