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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Model A300 Series Airplanes

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration, DOT.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

SUMMARY:

This document proposes the adoption of a new airworthiness directive (AD) that is applicable to certain Airbus Model A300 series airplanes. This proposal would require modification of wing center box angle fittings at frame 47. This proposal is prompted by issuance of mandatory continuing airworthiness information by a foreign civil airworthiness authority. The actions specified by the proposed AD are intended to prevent reduced structural integrity of the wing center box angle fittings at frame 47 due to fatigue cracking.

DATES:

Comments must be received by February 28, 2000.

ADDRESSES:

Submit comments in triplicate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transport Airplane Directorate, ANM-114, Attention: Rules Docket No. 99-NM-205-AD, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98055-4056.

Comments may be inspected at this location between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

The service information referenced in the proposed rule may be obtained from Airbus Industrie, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France. This information may be examined at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Norman B. Martenson, Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98055-4056; telephone (425) 227-2110; fax (425) 227-1149.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Comments Invited

Interested persons are invited to participate in the making of the proposed rule by submitting such written data, views, or arguments as they may desire. Communications shall identify the Rules Docket number and be submitted in triplicate to the address specified above. All communications received on or before the closing date for comments, specified above, will be considered before taking action on the proposed rule. The proposals contained in this notice may be changed in light of the comments received.

Comments are specifically invited on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of the proposed rule. All comments submitted will be available, both before and after the closing date for comments, in the Rules Docket for examination by interested persons. A report summarizing each FAA-public contact concerned with the substance of this proposal will be filed in the Rules Docket.

Commenters wishing the FAA to acknowledge receipt of their comments submitted in response to this notice must submit a self-addressed, stamped postcard on which the following statement is made: “Comments to Docket Number 99-NM-205-AD.” The postcard will be date stamped and returned to the commenter.

Availability of NPRMs

Any person may obtain a copy of this NPRM by submitting a request to the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, ANM-114, Attention: Rules Docket No. 99-NM-205-AD, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98055-4056.

Discussion

The Direction Generale de l'Aviation Civile (DGAC), which is the airworthiness authority for France, notified the FAA that an unsafe condition may exist on certain Airbus Model A300 series airplanes. The DGAC advises that a high incidence of cracking at the wing center box angle fittings at frame 47 has been reported by A300 operators when conducting the inspections required by the Model A300 Supplementary Structural Inspection Program (SSIP). [This inspection program is currently mandated in 96-13-11, amendment 39-9679 (61 FR 35122, July 5, 1996).] Because of the high incidence of cracking, there is an increased risk, on older airplanes, that not all cracks may be detected by the SSIP. This condition, if not corrected, could result in reduced structural integrity of the wing center box angle fittings at frame 47 due to fatigue cracking.

Explanation of Relevant Service Information

Airbus has issued Service Bulletin A300-53-0298, Revision 03, dated November 26, 1998, which describes procedures for modification of the wing center box angle fittings at frame 47. The modification involves removing certain sealant and fasteners, performing rotating probe inspections to detect cracking, cold working certain fastener holes, and installing new fasteners and sealant. Accomplishment of the actions specified in the service bulletin is intended to adequately address the identified unsafe condition. The DGAC classified this service bulletin as mandatory and issued French airworthiness directive 1999-076-267(B), dated February 24, 1999, in order to assure the continued airworthiness of these airplanes in France.

FAA's Conclusions

This airplane model is manufactured in France and is type certificated for operation in the United States under the provisions of section 21.29 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR 21.29) and the applicable bilateral airworthiness agreement. Pursuant to this bilateral airworthiness agreement, the DGAC has kept the FAA informed of the situation described above. The FAA has examined the findings of the DGAC, reviewed all available information, and determined that AD action is necessary for products of this type design that are certificated for operation in the United States.

Explanation of Requirements of Proposed Rule

Since an unsafe condition has been identified that is likely to exist or develop on other airplanes of the same type design registered in the United Start Printed Page 4387States, the proposed AD would require accomplishment of the actions specified in the service bulletin described previously, except as discussed below.

Difference Between Proposed Rule and Foreign Airworthiness Directive

The proposed AD would specify a different grace period from that specified by the parallel French airworthiness directive. The “instructions” referred to in the French airworthiness directive constitute a rather complicated method of determining a grace period for airplanes that have exceeded, or are approaching, the applicable mandatory threshold. The FAA has determined that it would be difficult to enforce the DGAC method for determining the grace period. In addition, the FAA has determined that the grace period defined in the service bulletin instructions is excessive in certain cases. Therefore, the FAA has established a single grace period, equal to the shortest grace period allowed by the French AD for all affected airplanes. In developing an appropriate grace period for this AD, the FAA considered not only the DGAC's method for determining the grace period, but the degree of urgency associated with addressing the subject unsafe condition, and the average utilization of the affected fleet. In light of these factors, the FAA finds a 6,500-flight-cycle grace period for initiating the required actions to be warranted, in that it represents an appropriate interval of time allowable for affected airplanes to continue to operate without compromising safety.

Difference Between Proposed Rule and Service Bulletin

Operators should note that, although the service bulletin specifies that the manufacturer may be contacted for repair instructions for certain damage conditions, this proposal would require the repair of those conditions to be accomplished in accordance with a method approved by either the FAA or the DGAC (or its delegated agent). In light of the type of repair that would be required to address the identified unsafe condition, and in consonance with existing bilateral airworthiness agreements, the FAA has determined that, for this proposed AD, a repair approved by either the FAA or the DGAC would be acceptable for compliance with this proposed AD.

Cost Impact

The FAA estimates that 38 airplanes of U.S. registry would be affected by this proposed AD, that it would take approximately 430 work hours per airplane to accomplish the proposed modification, and that the average labor rate is $60 per work hour. Required parts would cost approximately $8,840 per airplane. Based on these figures, the cost impact of the proposed AD on U.S. operators is estimated to be $1,316,320, or $34,640 per airplane.

The cost impact figure discussed above is based on assumptions that no operator has yet accomplished any of the proposed requirements of this AD action, and that no operator would accomplish those actions in the future if this AD were not adopted.

Regulatory Impact

The regulations proposed herein would not have a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Therefore, it is determined that this proposal would not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132.

For the reasons discussed above, I certify that this proposed regulation (1) is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a “significant rule” under the DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979); and (3) if promulgated, will not have a significant economic impact, positive or negative, on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. A copy of the draft regulatory evaluation prepared for this action is contained in the Rules Docket. A copy of it may be obtained by contacting the Rules Docket at the location provided under the caption ADDRESSES.

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List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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The Proposed Amendment

Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the Federal Aviation Administration proposes to amend part 39 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR part 39) as follows:

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PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES

1. The authority citation for part 39 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701.

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[Amended]

2. Section 39.13 is amended by adding the following new airworthiness directive:

Airbus Industrie: Docket 99-NM-205-AD.

Applicability: Model A300 series airplanes, as listed in Airbus Service Bulletin A300-53-0298, Revision 03, dated November 26, 1998; certificated in any category; except those on which Airbus Service Bulletin A300-53-0282 or Airbus Service Bulletin A300-53-0291 has been accomplished.

Note 1:

This AD applies to each airplane identified in the preceding applicability provision, regardless of whether it has been otherwise modified, altered, or repaired in the area subject to the requirements of this AD. For airplanes that have been modified, altered, or repaired so that the performance of the requirements of this AD is affected, the owner/operator must request approval for an alternative method of compliance in accordance with paragraph (c) of this AD. The request should include an assessment of the effect of the modification, alteration, or repair on the unsafe condition addressed by this AD; and, if the unsafe condition has not been eliminated, the request should include specific proposed actions to address it.

Compliance: Required as indicated, unless accomplished previously.

To prevent reduced structural integrity of the wing center box angle fittings at frame (FR) 47, accomplish the following:

(a) Prior to the accumulation of the applicable threshold specified in the “MANDATORY TH” column of the table in paragraph 1.B.(4) of the service bulletin, or within 6,500 flight cycles after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs later: Except as required by paragraph (b) of this AD, modify the wing center box angle fittings at FR 47 (including removing certain sealant and fasteners, performing rotating probe inspections to detect cracking, cold working certain fastener holes, installing new fasteners and sealant, and repairing damage), in accordance with Airbus Service Bulletin A300-53-0298, Revision 03, dated November 26, 1998.

Note 2:

Operators should note that the area required to be modified by paragraph (a) of this AD remains subject to the requirements of AD 96-13-11, amendment 39-9679, after modification.

(b) Where Airbus Service Bulletin A300-53-0298, Revision 03, dated November 26, 1998, specifies that Airbus be contacted for repair instructions for certain damage conditions, this AD requires that such damage conditions be repaired prior to further flight in accordance with a method approved by either the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate; or the Direction Generale de l'Aviation Civile (DGAC) (or its delegated agent). For a repair method to be approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, as required by this paragraph, the Manager's approval letter must specifically reference this AD.

Alternative Methods of Compliance

(c) An alternative method of compliance or adjustment of the compliance time that provides an acceptable level of safety may be used if approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate. Operators shall submit their requests through an Start Printed Page 4388appropriate FAA Principal Maintenance Inspector, who may add comments and then send it to the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116.

Note 3:

Information concerning the existence of approved alternative methods of compliance with this AD, if any, may be obtained from the International Branch, ANM-116.

Special Flight Permits

(d) Special flight permits may be issued in accordance with sections 21.197 and 21.199 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR 21.197 and 21.199) to operate the airplane to a location where the requirements of this AD can be accomplished.

Note 4:

The subject of this AD is addressed in French airworthiness directive 1999-076-267, dated February 24, 1999.

Start Signature

Issued in Renton, Washington, on January 21, 2000.

Donald L. Riggin,

Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

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[FR Doc. 00-1957 Filed 1-26-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-13-U