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Airworthiness Directives; Eurocopter France Model SA341G, SA342J, and SA-360C Helicopters

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration, DOT.

ACTION:

Final rule; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

This document publishes in the Federal Register an amendment adopting Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2001-19-51, which was sent previously to all known U.S. owners and operators of Eurocopter France (ECF) Model SA341G, SA342J, and SA-360C helicopters by individual letters. This AD requires, before further flight, replacing a certain unairworthy main rotor head torsion tie bar (tie bar) with an airworthy tie bar. This AD also requires revising the limitations section of the maintenance manual by adding a life limit for certain tie bars. This AD is prompted by an accident involving an ECF Model SA341G helicopter due to the failure of a tie bar. The actions specified by this AD are intended to prevent failure of a tie bar, loss of a main rotor blade, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

DATES:

Effective December 10, 2001, to all persons except those persons to whom it was made immediately effective by Emergency AD 2001-19-51, issued on September 21, 2001, which contained the requirements of this amendment.

Comments for inclusion in the Rules Docket must be received on or before January 22, 2002.

ADDRESSES:

Submit comments in triplicate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, Attention: Rules Docket No. 2001-SW-48-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.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jim Grigg, Aviation Safety Engineer, FAA, Rotorcraft Directorate, Rotorcraft Standards Staff, Fort Worth, Texas 76193-0110, telephone (817) 222-5490, fax (817) 222-5961.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

On September 21, 2001, the FAA issued Start Printed Page 58664Emergency AD 2001-19-51 for ECF Model SA341G, SA342J, and SA-360C helicopters which requires, before further flight, replacing certain unairworthy tie bars with airworthy tie bars. The AD also requires revising the limitations section of the maintenance manual by adding a life limit for certain tie bars and specifies that certain tie bars are not approved for installation on any helicopter. That action was prompted by an accident involving an ECF Model SA341G helicopter due to the failure of a tie bar. The ECF Model SA342J and SA-360C helicopters are equipped with tie bars identical to the one that failed on the ECF Model SA341G helicopter. Failure of a tie bar could result in loss of a main rotor blade and subsequent loss of control of the aircraft.

ECF has issued Telex Alert Nos. 01.28 and 01.38, both dated August 7, 2001, which declare certain tie bars unairworthy and impose a 20-year life limit for certain other tie bars. The Direction Generale De L'Aviation Civile (DGAC), which is the airworthiness authority for France, classified these telex alerts as mandatory and issued AD Nos. 2001-374-040(A) and 2001-375-046(A), both dated August 22, 2001, to ensure 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 14 CFR 21.29 and the applicable bilateral agreement. Pursuant to the applicable bilateral 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 these type designs that are certificated for operation in the United States.

Since the unsafe condition described is likely to exist or develop on other ECF Model SA341G, SA342J, and SA-360C helicopters of the same type designs, the FAA issued Emergency AD 2001-19-51 to prevent failure of a tie bar, loss of a main rotor blade, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter. The AD requires, before further flight, replacing certain unairworthy tie bars with airworthy tie bars. The AD also requires revising the limitations section of the maintenance manual by adding a life limit for tie bars, P/N 341A31-4933-00 and 341A31-4933-01, of 20 years from initial installation on any helicopter. The existing 5,000 hours TIS life limit on those tie bars remains the same. Tie bars, P/N 341A31-4933-00 and 341A31-4933-01, are to be removed from service when either the years or hours life limit is reached, whichever occurs first. The AD also specifies that tie bars, P/N 341A31-4904-00, -01, -02, -03, and 360A31-1097-02 and -03, are not approved for installation on any helicopter. The short compliance time involved is required because the previously described critical unsafe condition can adversely affect the structural integrity and controllability of the helicopter. Therefore, the actions previously mentioned are required before further flight, and this AD must be issued immediately.

Since it was found that immediate corrective action was required, notice and opportunity for prior public comment thereon were impracticable and contrary to the public interest, and good cause existed to make the AD effective immediately by individual letters issued on September 21, 2001 to all known U.S. owners and operators of ECF Model SA341G, SA342J, and SA-360C helicopters. These conditions still exist, and the AD is hereby published in the Federal Register as an amendment to 14 CFR 39.13 to make it effective to all persons.

The FAA estimates that 33 helicopters of U.S. registry will be affected by this AD, that it will take approximately 8 work hours per helicopter to accomplish the required actions, and that the average labor rate is $60 per work hour. Required parts will cost approximately $13,335 per helicopter, assuming all 3 tie bars are replaced. Based on these figures, the total cost impact of the AD on U.S. operators is estimated to be $445,895 ($13,815 per helicopter).

Comments Invited

Although this action is in the form of a final rule that involves requirements affecting flight safety and, thus, was not preceded by notice and an opportunity for public comment, comments are invited on this rule. Interested persons are invited to comment on this 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 under the caption ADDRESSES. All communications received on or before the closing date for comments will be considered, and this rule may be amended in light of the comments received. Factual information that supports the commenter's ideas and suggestions is extremely helpful in evaluating the effectiveness of the AD action and determining whether additional rulemaking action would be needed.

Comments are specifically invited on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of the rule that might suggest a need to modify the rule. All comments submitted will be available in the Rules Docket for examination by interested persons. A report that summarizes each FAA-public contact concerned with the substance of this AD will be filed in the Rules Docket.

Commenters wishing the FAA to acknowledge receipt of their mailed comments submitted in response to this rule must submit a self-addressed, stamped postcard on which the following statement is made: “Comments to Docket No. 2001-SW-48-AD.” The postcard will be date stamped and returned to the commenter.

The regulations adopted herein will 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 final rule does not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132.

The FAA has determined that this regulation is an emergency regulation that must be issued immediately to correct an unsafe condition in aircraft, and that it is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866. It has been determined further that this action involves an emergency regulation under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979). If it is determined that this emergency regulation otherwise would be significant under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures, a final regulatory evaluation will be prepared and placed in the Rules Docket. A copy of it, if filed, may be obtained from the Rules Docket at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 2601 Meacham Blvd., Room 663, Fort Worth, Texas.

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List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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Adoption of the Amendment

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

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PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES

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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]
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2. Section 39.13 is amended by adding a new airworthiness directive to read as follows:

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2001-19-51 Eurocopter France: Amendment 39-12508. Docket No. 2001-SW-48-AD.

Applicability: Model SA341G, SA342J, and SA-360C helicopters with the following main rotor head torsion tie bar (tie bar), part number (P/N):

 341A31-4904-00, -01, -02, -03;

 341A31-4933-00, -01; or

 360A31-1097-02, or -03;

installed, 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 (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 before further flight, unless accomplished previously.

To prevent failure of a tie bar, loss of a main rotor blade, and subsequent loss of control of the aircraft, accomplish the following:

(a) Remove each tie bar, P/N 341A31-4904-00, -01, -02, or -03; 360A31-1097-02 or -03, from service and replace with an airworthy tie bar, P/N 341A31-4933-00 or 341A31-4933-01.

Note 2:

Eurocopter France Telex Alert Nos. 01.28 and 01.38, both dated August 7, 2001, pertain to the subject of this AD.

(b) Replace each tie bar, P/N 341A31-4933-00 or 341A31-4933-01, if 20 or more years have elapsed since initial installation on any helicopter, with an airworthy tie bar, P/N 341A31-4933-00 or 341A31-4933-01. If the date of initial installation on any helicopter cannot be determined, use the date of manufacture of the tie bar as the date of initial installation.

(c) This AD revises the limitations section of the maintenance manual by adding a life limit for tie bars, P/N 341A31-4933-00 and 341A31-4933-01, of 20 years from initial installation on any helicopter and retains the existing 5,000 hours time-in-service (TIS) life limit on those tie bars. Tie bars, P/N 341A31-4933-00 and 341A31-4933-01, are to be removed from service when either the years or hours TIS life limit is reached, whichever occurs first. Tie bars, P/N 341A31-4904-00, -01, -02, and -03, and 360A31-1097-02 and -03, are not approved for installation on any helicopter.

(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, 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.

(e) Special flight permits will not be issued.

(f) This amendment becomes effective on December 10, 2001, to all persons except those persons to whom it was made immediately effective by Emergency AD 2001-19-51, issued September 21, 2001, which contained the requirements of this amendment.

Note 4:

The subject of this AD is addressed in Direction Generale De L'Aviation Civile (France), AD's 2001-374-040(A) and 2001-375-046(A), both dated August 22, 2001.

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Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on November 9, 2001.

Eric Bries,

Acting Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

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[FR Doc. 01-29189 Filed 11-21-01; 8:45 am]

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