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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Agusta S.p.A. Model A109E Helicopters

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Federal Aviation Administration, DOT.


Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).


This document proposes adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for Agusta S.p.A. (Agusta) Model A109E helicopters. This proposal would require establishing or reducing the life limits of various parts listed in the airworthiness limitations section (ALS) of the maintenance manual. This proposal is prompted by the results of fatigue tests and analysis to determine life limits for various parts. The actions specified by this proposed AD are intended to establish or reduce the life limits to prevent failure of specified parts and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.


Comments must be received on or before September 13, 2002.


Submit comments in triplicate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, Attention: Rules Docket No. 2002-SW-06-AD, 2601 Meacham Blvd., Room 663, Fort Worth, Texas 76137. You may also send comments electronically to the Rules Docket at the following address: Comments may be inspected at the Office of the Regional Counsel between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

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Carroll Wright, Aviation Safety Engineer, FAA, Rotorcraft Directorate, Regulations Group, Fort Worth, Texas 76193-0111, telephone (817) 222-5120, fax (817) 222-5961. Start Printed Page 46426

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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 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, 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 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. 2002-SW-06-AD.” The postcard will be date stamped and returned to the commenter.


On September 7, 2001, Agusta sent the FAA a comparison between the May 1996 and July 2001 issues of the ALS of its maintenance manual and provided justification for the changes in fatigue lives of certain parts. The justification for changing the life limits was based on applying new fatigue life computations, a rescue hoist flight spectrum, a Category A training flight spectrum, a new operational limit, and an update of loads in-flight survey data.

This helicopter model is manufactured in Italy and is type certificated for operation in the United States under the provisions of 14 CFR 21.29 and the applicable bilateral agreement. The FAA has 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.

An unsafe condition is likely to exist or develop on other helicopters of the same type design registered in the United States if the proposed life limits are not followed. Therefore, the proposed AD would require establishing or reducing the life limits of specified parts of the main transmission assembly and supports, the tail rotor assemblies, the main rotor control bolt, and the fuselage left-hand elevator, and revising the ALS of the maintenance manual accordingly.

The FAA estimates that 31 helicopters of U.S. registry would be affected by this proposed AD. One copy of each of the 11 parts listed in Table 1 of this proposal would cost approximately $41,294. Based on these figures, the total cost impact of the proposed AD on U.S. operators is estimated to be $1,280,114, assuming that one copy of each part would be replaced on the entire fleet. There would be no additional labor costs as the parts would be replaced during the normal maintenance process.

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

  • Air transportation
  • Aircraft
  • Aviation safety
  • Safety
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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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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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2. Section 39.13 is amended by adding a new airworthiness directive to read as follows:

Agusta S.p.A.: Docket No. 2002-SW-06-AD.

Applicability: Model A109E helicopters, 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 (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 within 100 hours time-in-service (TIS), unless accomplished previously.

To prevent failure of specified parts of the main transmission assembly and supports, the tail rotor assemblies, the main rotor control bolt, or the fuselage left-hand elevator, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter, accomplish the following:

(a) Replace each part listed in Table 1 with an airworthy part on or before reaching the specified hours TIS as shown in Table 1 of this AD as follows:

Table 1

Part namePart No.Hours TIS
(1) Main transmission gear pinion109-0403-05-1116,100
(2) Main transmission gear driver109-0403-04-38,300
(3) Main transmission shaft assembly109-0405-76-10725,000
Start Printed Page 46427
(4) Tail rotor retention strap assembly109-8131-07-11,800
(5) Tail rotor hub assembly109-0131-06-73,000
(6) Tail rotor 90-degree gearbox pinion gear109-0433-01-1076,100
(7) Tail rotor 90-degree gearbox crown gear109-0443-01-10311,700
(8) Main rotor control bolt109-0110-90-1035,000
(9) Fuselage left-hand elevator109-0200-02-934,400
(10) Main transmission support aft rod109-0325-03-11335,000
(11) Main transmission support lower fitting109-0325-08-130,000

(b) This AD revises the airworthiness limitations section of the maintenance manual by establishing or reducing the life limit as specified in Table 1 of this AD.

(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, 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 2:

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

(d) Special flight permits will not be issued.

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Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on July 5, 2002.

Larry M. Kelly,

Acting Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

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[FR Doc. 02-17424 Filed 7-12-02; 8:45 am]