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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Model A300 B2 and B4, A300 B4-600 and B4-600R, and A310 Series Airplanes

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

Start Preamble

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 B2 and B4, A300 B4-600 and B4-600R, and A310 series airplanes. This proposal would require modification of the terminal blocks of the starter feeder line of the auxiliary power unit (APU). This action is necessary to prevent slackness and subsequent overheat and arcing of certain wiring connections. This action is intended to address the identified unsafe condition.

DATES:

Comments must be received by September 26, 2001.

ADDRESSES:

Submit comments in triplicate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transport Airplane Directorate, ANM-114, Attention: Rules Docket No. 2001-NM-204-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. Comments may be submitted via fax to (425) 227-1232. Comments may also be sent via the Internet using the following address: 9-anm-nprmcomment@faa.gov. Comments sent via fax or the Internet must contain “Docket No. 2001-NM-204-AD” in the subject line and need not be submitted in triplicate. Comments sent via the Internet as attached electronic files must be formatted in Microsoft Word 97 for Windows or ASCII text.

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.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Dan Rodina, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98055-4056; telephone (425) 227-2125; fax (425) 227-1149.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

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 action may be changed in light of the comments received.

Submit comments using the following format:

  • Organize comments issue-by-issue. For example, discuss a request to change the compliance time and a request to change the service bulletin reference as two separate issues.
  • For each issue, state what specific change to the proposed AD is being requested.
  • Include justification (e.g., reasons or data) for each request.

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 action must submit a self-addressed, stamped postcard on which the following statement is made: “Comments to Docket Number 2001-NM-204-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. 2001-NM-204-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 B2 and B4, A300 B4-600, A300 B4-600R, and A310 series airplanes. The DGAC advises that an operator reported a number of cases of incorrect tightening of the retaining nuts of the terminal blocks of the starter feeder line of the auxiliary power unit (APU). In some cases, arcing has been seen at the level of either the terminal lugs or the terminal block itself. Incorrect tightening of the retaining nuts, if not corrected, could result in slackness and subsequent overheat and arcing of certain wiring connections.

Background

In July 1996, a Boeing Model 747 series airplane was involved in an accident. As part of re-examining all Start Printed Page 44991aspects of the service experience of the airplane involved in the accident, the FAA participated in design review and testing to determine possible sources of ignition in center fuel tanks. As part of the review, the FAA examined fuel system wiring with regard to the possible effects that wire degradation may have on arc propagation.

In 1997 in a parallel preceding, at the recommendation of the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, the FAA expanded its Aging Transport Program to include non-structural systems and assembled a team for evaluating these systems. This team performed visual inspections of certain transport category airplanes for which 20 years or more had passed since date of manufacture. In addition, the team gathered information from interviews with FAA Principal Maintenance Inspectors and meetings with representatives of airplane manufacturers. This evaluation revealed that the length of time in service is not the only cause of wire degradation; inadequate maintenance, contamination, improper repair, and mechanical damage are all contributing factors. From the compilation of this comprehensive information, we developed the Aging Transport Non-Structural Systems Plan to increase airplane safety by increasing knowledge of how non-structural systems degrade and how causes of degradation can be reduced.

In 1999, the FAA Administrator established a formal advisory committee to facilitate the implementation of the Aging Transport Non-Structural Systems Plan. This committee, the Aging Transport Systems Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ATSRAC), is made up of representatives of airplane manufacturers, operators, user groups, aerospace and industry associations, and government agencies. As part of its mandate, ATSRAC will recommend rulemaking to increase transport category airplane safety in cases where solutions to safety problems connected to aging systems have been found and must be applied. Detailed analyses of certain transport category airplanes that have been removed from service, studies of service bulletins pertaining to certain wiring systems, and reviews of previously issued ADs requiring repetitive inspections of certain wiring systems, have resulted in valuable information on the cause and prevention of wire degradation due to various contributing factors (e.g. inadequate maintenance, contamination, improper repair, and mechanical damage).

In summary, as a result of the investigations described above, the FAA has determined that corrective action may be necessary to minimize the potential hazards associated with wire degradation and related causal factors (e.g. inadequate maintenance, contamination, improper repair, and mechanical damage).

Other Related Rulemaking

This proposed AD is one of a series of actions identified as part of the ATSRAC program initiative to maintain continued operational safety of aging non-structural systems in transport category airplanes. The program is continuing, and the FAA may consider additional rulemaking actions as further results of the review become available.

Explanation of Relevant Service Information

Airbus has issued Service Bulletins A300-24-0079, Revision 02, dated January 3, 2001 (for Model A300 B2 and B4 series airplanes); A300-24-6034, Revision 03, dated April 6, 2001 (for Model A300 B4-600 and B4-600R series airplanes); and A310-24-2045, Revision 05, dated April 6, 2001 (for Model A310 series airplanes). The service bulletins describe procedures for modifying the terminal blocks of the APU starter feeder line. The modification involves inspecting the threaded portion of the terminal portion of the terminal lugs to detect damage, distortion, or elongation; measuring the dimensions of the studs of the terminal blocks; and re-identifying the terminal blocks. Corrective actions include replacing any discrepant terminal block with a new part. Accomplishment of the actions specified in the service bulletins is intended to adequately address the identified unsafe condition. The DGAC classified these service bulletins as mandatory and issued French airworthiness directive 2001-266(B), dated June 27, 2001, to ensure the continued airworthiness of these airplanes in France.

FAA's Conclusions

These airplane 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 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 States, the proposed AD would require accomplishment of the actions specified in the service bulletins described previously.

Cost Impact

The FAA estimates that 153 airplanes of U.S. registry would be affected by this proposed AD. It would take approximately 1 to 3 work hours per airplane (depending on configuration) to accomplish the proposed actions, at an average labor rate of $60 per work hour. Based on these figures, the cost impact of the proposed AD on U.S. operators is estimated to be $60 to $180 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 proposed AD were not adopted. The cost impact figures discussed in AD rulemaking actions represent only the time necessary to perform the specific actions actually required by the AD. These figures typically do not include incidental costs, such as the time required to gain access and close up, planning time, or time necessitated by other administrative actions.

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 Start Printed Page 44992contacting 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:

Start Authority

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

End Authority
[Amended]

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

Airbus Industrie: Docket 2001-NM-204-AD.

Applicability: The following airplanes, certificated in any category:

Table 1.—Applicability

Model—Excluding those airplanes modified per Airbus modification 10212, or Airbus Service Bulletin—
A300 B2 and B4 series airplanesA300-24-0079, Revision 02, dated January 3, 2001.
A300 B4-600 and B4-600R series airplanesA300-24-6034, Revision 03, dated April 6, 2001.
A310 series airplanesA310-24-2045, Revision 05, dated April 6, 2001.

Note 1:

This AD applies to each airplane identified in the preceding applicability provision, regardless of whether it has been 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 (b) 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 slackness and subsequent overheat and arcing of certain wiring connections, accomplish the following: Modification

(a) Modify the terminal blocks (including a general visual inspection of the threaded portion of the lugs to detect damage, distortion, or elongation; measurement of stud dimensions; and re-identification of the terminal blocks), as specified by Table 2 of this AD. If any discrepancy is detected, prior to further flight, replace the terminal block with a new part in accordance with the applicable service bulletin. Table 2 follows:

Table 2.—Modification Requirements

For model—Perform the modification in accordance with Airbus Service Bulletin—Prior to the times specified by paragraphs (i) and (ii), whichever occurs later, for each model:
(1) A300 B2 and B4 series airplanesA300-24-0079, Revision 02, dated January 3, 2001(i) The accumulation of 32,000 total flight cycles or 40,000 total flight hours, whichever occurs first. (ii) 3,600 flight cycles after the effective date of this AD.
(2) A300 B4-600 and B4-600R series airplanesA300-24-6034, Revision 03, dated April 6, 2001(i) The accumulation of 26,000 total flight cycles or 40,000 flight hours, whichever occurs first. (ii) 3,600 flight cycles after the effective date of this AD.
(3) A310 series airplanesA310-24-2045, Revision 05, dated April 6, 2001(i) The accumulation of 26,000 total flight cycles or 40,000 flight hours, whichever occurs first. (ii) 3,600 flight cycles after the effective date of this AD.

Note 2:

For the purposes of this AD, a general visual inspection is defined as: “A visual examination of an interior or exterior area, installation, or assembly to detect obvious damage, failure, or irregularity. This level of inspection is made under normally available lighting conditions such as daylight, hangar lighting, flashlight, or drop-light, and may require removal or opening of access panels or doors. Stands, ladders, or platforms may be required to gain proximity to the area being checked.”

Note 3:

Modification, prior to the effective date of this AD, in accordance with Airbus Service Bulletin A300-24-0079, dated March 15, 1993, or Revision 01, dated September 22, 1993 (for Model A300 B2 and B4 series airplanes); A300-24-6034, dated March 15, 1993, Revision 01, dated September 22, 1993; or Revision 02, dated September 7, 1994 (for Model A300 B4-600 and B4-600R series airplanes); or A310-24-2045, dated March 15, 1993, Revision 01, dated September 22, 1993, Revision 02, dated September 7, 1994, Revision 03, dated February 24, 1995, or Revision 04, dated November 24, 1995 (for Model A310 series airplanes); is acceptable for compliance with the requirements of paragraph (a) of this AD.

Alternative Methods of Compliance

(b) 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, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA. Operators shall submit their requests through an appropriate FAA Principal Maintenance Inspector, who may add comments and then send it to the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116.

Note 4:

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

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Special Flight Permits

(c) 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 5:

The subject of this AD is addressed in French airworthiness directive 2001-266(B), dated June 27, 2001.

Start Signature

Issued in Renton, Washington, on August 16, 2001.

Vi L. Lipski,

Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Part End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 01-21223 Filed 8-24-01; 8:45 am]

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