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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Eurocopter France Model AS350B, B1, B2, B3, BA, D, D1 and AS355E, F, F1, F2, and N Helicopters

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 supersedure of an existing airworthiness directive (AD) that applies to Eurocopter France (ECF) Model AS350B, B1, B2, B3, BA, D, and AS355E, F, F1, F2, and N helicopters. That AD currently requires inspecting certain versions of the tail rotor pitch change spider assembly (spider assembly) for the proper rotational torque, axial play, and any brinelling of the bearing. This action would require identifying the spider assembly with index marks to detect bearing spacer rotation, visually checking to ensure that the index marks are aligned before the first flight of each day, and subsequently modifying the bearing spider assembly. This action would also add the ECF Model AS350D1 helicopters to the applicability. This proposal is prompted by operator reports that the spider assembly bearing spacers are rotating. The actions specified by the proposed AD are intended to detect rotation of the spider assembly bearing spacers, prevent seizure of the bearing, loss of tail rotor control, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before July 23, 2001.

ADDRESSES:

Submit comments in triplicate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, Attention: Rules Docket No. 2000-SW-47-AD, 2601 Meacham Blvd., Room 663, Fort Worth, Texas 76137. You may also send comments electronically to the Rules Docket at the following address: 9-asw-adcomments@faa.gov. Comments may be inspected at the Office of the Federal Register 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 American Eurocopter Corporation, 2701 Forum Drive, Grand Prairie, Texas 75053-4005, telephone (972) 641-3460, fax (972) 641-3527. This information may be examined at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 2601 Meacham Blvd., Room 663, Fort Worth, Texas.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jim Grigg, Aviation Safety Engineer, FAA, Rotorcraft Directorate, Regulations Group, Fort Worth, Texas 76193-0111, telephone (817) 222-5490, fax (817) 222-5961.

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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 should 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 document 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 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 mailed comments submitted in response to this proposal must submit a self-addressed, stamped postcard on which the following statement is made: “Comments to Docket No. 2000-SW-47-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, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, Attention: Rules Docket No. 2000-SW-47-AD, 2601 Meacham Blvd., Room 663, Fort Worth, Texas 76137.

Discussion

On November 19, 1999, the FAA issued AD 99-24-18, Amendment 39-11443 (64 FR 66762, November 30, 1999), to require inspecting certain versions of the tail rotor pitch change spider assembly (spider assembly) for the proper rotational torque, axial play, and any brinelling of the bearing. That action was prompted by reports of deterioration of the spider assembly bearing. The requirements of that AD are intended to detect rotation of the spider assembly bearing spacers, prevent seizure of the bearing, loss of tail rotor control, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

Since the issuance of that AD, there have been reports that the spider assembly spacers are rotating. Eurocopter issued Service Bulletin (SB) No. 05.00.33 for the AS 350 series and 05.00.33 for the AS 355 series helicopters. Both these SB's are dated May 15, 2000 and specify monitoring the spacer and the bearing inner race of the spider assembly for rotation and increasing the tightening torque load of the bearing-to-spacer assembly. The Direction Generale De L'Aviation Civile (DGAC), which is the airworthiness authority for France, classified these service bulletins as mandatory and issued telegraphic AD No.'s T2000-222-079(A) and T2000-223-059(A), both dated June 2, 2000, to assure the continued airworthiness of these helicopters in France.

These helicopter models are manufactured in France and are 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 Start Printed Page 28134determined that AD action is necessary for products of this type design that are certificated for operation in the United States.

Since an unsafe condition has been identified that is likely to exist or develop on other ECF Model AS350B, B1, B2, B3, BA, D, D1, and AS355E, F, F1, F2, and N helicopters of the same type designs, the proposed AD would supersede AD 99-24-18. The proposed AD would require the following:

  • Within 10 hours time-in-service (TIS), installing index marks on the spider assembly to detect any bearing spacer rotation;
  • Before the first flight of each day, visually checking to ensure that the index marks are aligned; and
  • Within 25 hours TIS if bearing spacer rotation is detected or at the next 500 hours inspection if no bearing spacer rotation is detected, modifying the spider assembly. Modifying the spider assembly in accordance with MOD 076554 would constitute terminating action for the requirements of the proposed AD. The visual check proposed may be performed by an owner/operator (pilot) but would need to be entered into the aircraft records showing compliance with paragraph (b) of the AD in accordance with 14 CFR 43.11 and 91.417(a)(2)(v). The AD would allow a pilot to perform this check because it involves only a visual check of the index marks on the spider assembly and can be performed equally well by a pilot or a mechanic.

The FAA estimates that this proposed AD would affect 514 helicopters of U.S. registry. It would take approximately 0.25 work hour per helicopter to identify each spider assembly with index marks and 6 work hours to modify the spider assembly. The average labor rate is $60 per work hour. Required parts would cost approximately $200 per helicopter. Based on these figures, the total cost impact of the proposed AD on U.S. operators is estimated to be $295,550, assuming that the index marks are placed installed on all helicopters and that the spider assembly is modified on all the helicopters.

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 removing Amendment 39-11442 (64 FR 66762, November 30, 1999), and by adding a new airworthiness directive (AD), to read as follows:

Eurocopter France: Docket No. 2000-SW-47-AD. Supersedes AD 99-24-18, Amendment 39-11443, Docket No. 99-SW-41-AD.

Applicability: AS350B, B1, B2, B3, BA, D, D1 and AS355E, F, F1, F2, and N helicopters, with tail rotor pitch change spider assembly (spider assembly), part number (P/N) 350A33-2004-00, -01, -02, -03, -05, or 350A33-2009-00 or -01, installed, and which do not incorporate MOD 076554, certificated in any category.

Note 1:

This AD applies to each helicopter 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 helicopters 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 (e) 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 detect rotation of the spider assembly bearing spacers, prevent seizure of the bearing, loss of tail rotor control, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter, accomplish the following:

(a) Within 10 hours time-in-service (TIS), install identifying index marks on the spider assembly in accordance with (IAW) the Accomplishment Instructions, paragraph 2.B.1, of Eurocopter France Service Bulletin (SB) No. 05.00.33 for Model AS 350 series helicopters or 05.00.33 for Model AS 355 series helicopters. Both SB's are dated May 15, 2000.

(b) Before the first flight of each day, visually check that the index marks on the rotating plate and on the spacer are aligned. The visual check required by the AD may be performed by an owner/operator (pilot) but must be entered into the aircraft records showing compliance with paragraph (b) of the this AD in accordance with 14 CFR 43.11 and 91.417(a)(2)(v).

Note 2:

This AD allows a pilot to perform this check because it involves only a visual check of the index marks on the bearing spider assembly and can be performed equally well by a pilot or a mechanic.

(c) At the following intervals, modify the spider assembly:

(1) If bearing spacer rotation is detected, within 25 hours TIS, IAW paragraph 2.B.4 of the applicable SB.

(2) If no bearing spacer rotation is detected, at the next 500-hour (“T”) inspection, IAW paragraph 2.B.3 of the applicable SB.

(d) Modifying the bearing assembly with MOD 076554 constitutes terminating action for the requirements of this AD.

(e) 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, Regulations Group, Rotorcraft Directorate, FAA. Operators shall submit their requests through an FAA Principal Maintenance Inspector, who may concur or comment and then send it to the Manager, Regulations Group.

Note 3:

Information concerning the existence of approved alternative methods of compliance with this AD, if any, may be obtained from the Regulations Group.

(f) 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 helicopter to a location where the requirements of this AD can be accomplished.

Note 4:

The subject of this proposal is addressed in Direction Generale de L'Aviation Civile (France) AD No.'s T2000-222-079(A) and T2000-223-059(A), both dated June 2, 2000.

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Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on May 14, 2001.

Larry M. Kelly,

Acting Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

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[FR Doc. 01-12775 Filed 5-21-01; 8:45 am]

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