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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Model A330 and A340 Series Airplanes

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

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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 A330 and A340 series airplanes. This proposal would require repetitive inspections for foreign objects between the slider and the girt bar attachment fittings of the emergency escape slides, and corrective actions, if necessary. This proposal also would eventually require a one-time inspection to determine whether the release mechanism of the emergency escape slides and girt bar attachment fittings are adjusted correctly, which would terminate the repetitive inspections for foreign objects between the slider and the girt bar attachment fittings; a one-time test to ensure that the girt bar extends through the sliders correctly; and corrective action, if necessary. This action is necessary to prevent failure of an emergency escape slide, which could delay evacuation in an emergency and result in injury to passengers or crew. This action is intended to address the identified unsafe condition.

DATES:

Comments must be received by November 13, 2001.

ADDRESSES:

Submit comments in triplicate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transport Airplane Directorate, ANM-114, Attention: Rules Docket No. 2001-NM-154-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-154-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.

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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.

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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 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-154-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-154-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 A330 and A340 series airplanes. The DGAC advises that, during escape slide deployment tests on a Model A330 series airplane, the girt bar of the emergency escape slide became detached from the airplane when the escape slide was deployed. Such detachment of the girt bar has been attributed to various factors, including a foreign object between the slider and girt bar attachment fitting, incorrect adjustment of the escape slide release mechanism, and incorrect installation of both girt bar attachment fittings. This condition, if not corrected, could result in failure of an emergency escape slide, which could delay evacuation in an emergency and result in injury to passengers or crew.

The girt bar installation on certain Model A340 series airplanes is identical to that on the affected Model A330 series airplanes. Therefore, those Model A340 series airplanes may be subject to the same unsafe condition revealed on the Model A330 series airplanes.

Explanation of Relevant Service Information

Airbus has issued Service Bulletins A330-52-3064 and A340-52-4076, both dated April 4, 2001. Those service bulletins describe procedures for the following:

  • Repetitive visual inspections for foreign objects between the slider and the girt bar attachment fittings of the emergency escape slides, removal of any Start Printed Page 52067foreign object, and determination that the girt bar attachment fittings are clean.
  • A one-time inspection to determine whether the release mechanism of the emergency escape slides and girt bar attachment fittings are adjusted correctly, which eliminates the need for the repetitive inspections for foreign objects between the slider and the girt bar attachment fittings, and adjustment of the release mechanism or girt bar attachment fittings, if necessary.
  • A one-time test to ensure that the girt bar extends through the sliders correctly, and rework or replacement of the girt bar, if necessary.

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 directives 2001-190(B) and 2001-191(B), both dated May 16, 2001, in order to assure 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 § 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 applicable service bulletin described previously, except as discussed below.

Difference Between Service Bulletins and This Proposed AD

The service bulletins refer to the three inspections that would be required by this proposed AD as a “visual inspection,” an “inspection,” and a “check,” respectively. The FAA finds that all three inspections should be described as “general visual” inspections. Note 2 has been included in this proposed AD to define this type of inspection.

Cost Impact

The FAA estimates that 5 airplanes of U.S. registry would be affected by this proposed AD.

It would take approximately 2 work hours per airplane to accomplish the proposed inspection for foreign objects between the slider and the girt bar attachment fittings of the emergency escape slide, at an average labor rate of $60 per work hour. Based on these figures, the cost impact of this inspection on U.S. operators is estimated to be $600, or $120 per airplane, per inspection cycle.

It would take approximately 4 work hours per airplane to accomplish the proposed inspection to determine whether the release mechanism for the emergency escape slide and girt bar attachment fittings are adjusted correctly, at an average labor rate of $60 per work hour. Based on these figures, the cost impact of this inspection on U.S. operators is estimated to be $1,200, or $240 per airplane.

It would take approximately 4 work hours per airplane to accomplish the proposed inspection to determine whether the girt bar of the emergency escape slide extends through the sliders correctly, at an average labor rate of $60 per work hour. Based on these figures, the cost impact of this inspection on U.S. operators is estimated to be $1,200, or $240 per airplane.

The cost impact figures discussed above are 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 contacting the Rules Docket at the location provided under the caption ADDRESSES.

Start List of Subjects

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 2001-NM-154-AD.

Applicability: Model A330 series airplanes, as listed in Airbus Service Bulletin A330-52-3064, dated April 4, 2001; and Model A340 series airplanes, as listed in Airbus Service Bulletin A340-52-4076, dated April 4, 2001; certificated in any category.

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 (d) 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 failure of the emergency escape slide, which could delay evacuation in an emergency and result in injury to passengers or crew, accomplish the following: Start Printed Page 52068

Repetitive Inspections for Foreign Objects

(a) For all passenger/crew doors (Type A) and emergency exit doors (Type A and Type 1): Within 550 flight hours after the effective date of this AD, perform a general visual inspection for foreign objects between the slider and the girt bar attachment fittings of the emergency escape slide, according to Airbus Service Bulletin A330-52-3064 or A340-52-4076, both dated April 4, 2001, as applicable. Repeat the inspection at least every 7 days until paragraph (b) of this AD is done. If any foreign object is found during any inspection per this paragraph, before further flight, remove the object and ensure that the girt bar attachment fittings are clean, according to the applicable service bulletin.

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.”

One-Time Inspection of Slide Release Mechanism and Girt Bar Attachment Fittings

(b) For all passenger/crew doors (Type A) and emergency exit doors (Type A and Type 1): Within 18 months after the effective date of this AD, perform a one-time general visual inspection to determine whether the release mechanism for the emergency escape slide and girt bar attachment fittings are adjusted correctly, according to Airbus Service Bulletin A330-52-3064 or A340-52-4076, both dated April 4, 2001, as applicable. If the slide mechanism or girt bar attachment fittings are not adjusted correctly, before further flight, adjust them correctly, according to the applicable service bulletin. This inspection terminates the repetitive inspections required by paragraph (a) of this AD.

One-Time Inspection of Girt Bar Attachment Fittings

(c) For all passenger/crew doors (Type A) and emergency exit doors (Type A ONLY): Within 18 months after the effective date of this AD, perform a one-time general visual inspection to determine whether the girt bar of the emergency escape slide extends through the sliders correctly, according to Airbus Service Bulletin A330-52-3064 or A340-52-4076, both dated April 4, 2001, as applicable. If the girt bar does not extend correctly, before further flight, rework or replace the girt bar, according to the applicable service bulletin.

Alternative Methods of Compliance

(d) 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 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

(e) 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 directives 2001-190(B) and 2001-191(B), both dated May 16, 2001.

Start Signature

Issued in Renton, Washington, on October 4, 2001.

Vi L. Lipski,

Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

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[FR Doc. 01-25619 Filed 10-11-01; 8:45 am]

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