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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. Models PC-12 and PC-12/45 Airplanes

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AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration, DOT.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

SUMMARY:

This document proposes to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) that would apply to all Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. (Pilatus) Models PC-12 and PC-12/45 airplanes. This proposed AD would require you to repetitively replace the nose landing gear (NLG) drag link right-hand part every 4,000 landings until an improved design NLG drag link right-hand part is installed. This proposed AD would also require you to install an improved design NLG drag link right-hand part as terminating action for the repetitive replacements. This proposed AD is the result of mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI) issued by the airworthiness authority for Switzerland. The actions specified by this proposed AD are intended to prevent structural failure of the NLG caused by fatigue damage to the NLG drag link right-hand part that develops over time, which could result in either an unintended NLG extension during flight or the nose landing gear not properly locking upon extension, which could lead to loss of airplane control during landing operations.

DATES:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must receive any comments on this proposed rule on or before January 23, 2003.

ADDRESSES:

Submit comments to FAA, Central Region, Office of the Regional Counsel, Attention: Rules Docket No. 2002-CE-51-AD, 901 Locust, Room 506, Kansas City, Missouri 64106. You may view any comments at this location between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. You may also send comments electronically to the following address: 9-ACE-7-Docket@faa.gov. Comments sent electronically must contain “Docket No. 2002-CE-51-AD” in the subject line. If you send comments electronically as attached electronic files, the files must be formatted in Microsoft Word 97 for Windows or ASCII text.

You may get service information that applies to this proposed AD from Pilatus Aircraft Ltd., Customer Liaison Manager, CH-6371 Stans, Switzerland; telephone: +41 41 619 63 19; facsimile: +41 41 619 6224; or from Pilatus Business Aircraft Ltd., Product Support Department, 11755 Airport Way, Broomfield, Colorado 80021; telephone: (303) 465-9099; facsimile: (303) 465-6040. You may also view this information at the Rules Docket at the address above.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Doug Rudolph, Aerospace Engineer, FAA, Small Airplane Directorate, 901 Locust, Room 301, Kansas City, Missouri 64106; telephone: (816) 329-4059; facsimile: (816) 329-4090.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Comments Invited

How do I comment on this proposed AD? The FAA invites comments on this proposed rule. You may submit whatever written data, views, or arguments you choose. You need to include the rule's docket number and submit your comments to the address specified under the caption ADDRESSES. We will consider all comments received on or before the closing date. We may amend this proposed rule in light of comments received. Factual information that supports your ideas and suggestions is extremely helpful in evaluating the effectiveness of this proposed AD action and determining whether we need to take additional rulemaking action.

Are there any specific portions of this proposed AD I should pay attention to? The FAA specifically invites comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed rule that might suggest a need to modify the proposed rule. You may view all comments we receive before and after the closing date of the proposed rule in the Rules Docket. We will file a report in the Rules Docket that summarizes each contact we have with the public that concerns the substantive parts of this proposed AD.

How can I be sure FAA receives my comment? If you want FAA to acknowledge the receipt of your mailed comments, you must include a self-addressed, stamped postcard. On the postcard, write “Comments to Docket No. 2002-CE-51-AD.” We will date stamp and mail the postcard back to you.

Discussion

What events have caused this proposed AD? The Federal Office for Civil Aviation (FOCA), which is the airworthiness authority for Switzerland, recently notified FAA that an unsafe condition may exist on certain Pilatus Models PC-12 and PC-12/45 airplanes. The FOCA reports that 3 aircraft experienced a failure of the nose landing gear (NLG) drag link assembly during cruise flight. The actuator attachment levers on the right-hand upper drag link part failed. In all cases, the NLG fell out due to gravity, and the emergency spring pack extended it forward and allowed safe landings.

What are the consequences if the condition is not corrected? Structural failure of the NLG drag link right-hand part could result in either an unintended NLG extension during flight or the NLG not properly locking upon extension. This could lead to loss of airplane control during landing operations.

Is there service information that applies to this subject? Pilatus has issued Service Bulletin No. 32-014, dated August 13, 2002.

What are the provisions of this service information? The service bulletin includes procedures for replacing the NLG drag link right-hand part with a part number of the improved design. Temporary Revision No. 32-14 (dated June 4, 2002) to Pilatus PC-12 Maintenance Manual 32-20-06 provides instructions for replacing with the same design part.

What action did the FOCA take? The FOCA classified this service bulletin as mandatory and issued Swiss AD Number HB 2002-271, dated June 17, 2002, in order to ensure the continued airworthiness of these airplanes in Switzerland. Start Printed Page 77443

Was this in accordance with the bilateral airworthiness agreement? These airplane models are manufactured in Switzerland 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 FOCA has kept FAA informed of the situation described above.

The FAA's Determination and an Explanation of the Provisions of This Proposed AD

What has FAA decided? The FAA has examined the findings of the FOCA; reviewed all available information, including the service information referenced above; and determined that:

—The unsafe condition referenced in this document exists or could develop on other Pilatus Models PC-12 and PC-12/45 of the same type design that are on the U.S. registry;

—The actions specified in the previously-referenced service information should be accomplished on the affected airplanes; and

—AD action should be taken in order to correct this unsafe condition.

What would this proposed AD require? This proposed would require repetitive replacement of the NLG drag link right-hand part every 4,000 landings until an improved design NLG drag link right-hand part is installed. This proposed AD would also require you to install an improved NLG drag link as terminating action for the repetitive replacements.

Cost Impact

How many airplanes would this proposed AD impact? We estimate that this proposed AD affects 265 airplanes in the U.S. registry.

What would be the cost impact of this proposed AD on owners/operators of the affected airplanes? We estimate the following costs to accomplish the proposed replacement with the same design part:

Labor costParts costTotal cost per airplaneTotal cost on U.S. operators
6 workhours × $60 per hour = $360.$1,000$1,360$2,560 × 265 = $360,400

We estimate the following costs to accomplish the proposed replacement with the improved design part:

Labor costParts costTotal cost per airplaneTotal cost on U.S. operators
6 workhours × $60 per hour = $360$2,200$2,560$2,560 × 265 = $678,400

Compliance Time of This Proposed AD

What would be the compliance time of this proposed AD? The compliance time of this proposed AD is based on the number of landings rather than hours time-in-service (TIS).

Why is the compliance time of this proposed AD presented in landings? The reason for this type of compliance is that the area that is showing fatigue is the NLG drag link right-hand part. This area of the airplane is used during the landing operation. We have determined to base the compliance time for this proposed AD upon the number of landings.

Since airplane operators are not required to keep track of landings, we will provide a method of calculating hours TIS into landings.

Regulatory Impact

Would this proposed AD impact various entities? 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 proposed rule would not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132.

Would this proposed AD involve a significant rule or regulatory action? For the reasons discussed above, I certify that this proposed action (1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a “significant rule” under 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 has been placed 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, under 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.

End Authority
[Amended]

2. FAA amends § 39.13 by adding a new airworthiness directive (AD) to read as follows:

Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.: Docket No. 2002-CE-51-AD.

(a) What airplanes are affected by this AD? This AD affects Models PC-12 and PC-12/45 airplanes, all serial numbers, that are certificated in any category.

(b) Who must comply with this AD? Anyone who wishes to operate any of the airplanes identified in paragraph (a) of this AD must comply with this AD.

(c) What problem does this AD address? The actions specified by this AD are intended Start Printed Page 77444to prevent structural failure of the nose landing gear (NLG) caused by fatigue damage to the NLG drag link right-hand part that develops over time. Such failure could result in either an unintended NLG extension during flight or the NLG not properly locking upon extension, which could lead to loss of airplane control during landing operations.

(d) What actions must I accomplish to address this problem? To address this problem, you must accomplish the following, unless already accomplished:

ActionsComplianceProcedures
(1) Replace the nose landing gear (NLG) drag link right-hand part, part number (P/N) 532.20.12.140 with the same part number or FAA-approved equivalent part numberInitially upon the accumulation of 4,000 landings on the nose landing gear (NLG) drag link right hand part or within the next 100 landings after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs later. Repetitively thereafter at every accumulated 4,000 landings on the nose landing gear drag link right hand part until accomplishment of paragraph (d)(2) of this AD, which is terminating action for these replacementsIn accordance with Temporary Revision No. 32-14 (dated June 4, 2002) to Pilatus PC-12 Maintenance Manual 32-20-06.
(2) Replace the NLG drag link right-hand part, P/N 532.20.12.140, with an improved design NLG drag link right-hand part, P/N 532.20.12.289 or FAA-approved equivalent part number. Installing the improved part number terminates the repetitive replacement requirements of paragraph (d)(1) of this ADAt the third replacement required in paragraph (d)(1) of this AD (8,000 hours TIS after the initial replacement)In accordance with Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. Service Bulletin No. 32-014, dated August 13, 2002, and the applicable maintenance manual.
(3) Do not install, on any affected airplane, an NLG drag link right-hand part that is not P/N 532.20.12.289 or FAA-approved equivalent part numberUpon accumulating 8,000 hours TIS after the initial replacement required in paragraph (d)(1) of this ADNot Applicable.

Note 1:

The compliance times of this AD are presented in landings instead of hours time-in-service (TIS). If the number of landings is unknown, hours TIS may be used by multiplying the number of hours TIS by 0.5.

(e) Can I comply with this AD in any other way? You may use an alternative method of compliance or adjust the compliance time if:

(1) Your alternative method of compliance provides an equivalent level of safety; and

(2) The Standards Office Manager, Small Airplane Directorate, approves your alternative. Submit your request through an FAA Principal Maintenance Inspector, who may add comments and then send it to the Standards Office Manager.

Note 2:

This AD applies to each airplane identified in paragraph (a) of this AD, 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 (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 you have not eliminated the unsafe condition, specific actions you propose to address it.

(f) Where can I get information about any already-approved alternative methods of compliance? Doug Rudolph, Aerospace Engineer, FAA, Small Airplane Directorate, 901 Locust, Room 301, Kansas City, Missouri 64106; telephone: (816) 329-4059; facsimile: (816) 329-4090.

(g) What if I need to fly the airplane to another location to comply with this AD? The FAA can issue a special flight permit under sections 21.197 and 21.199 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR 21.197 and 21.199) to operate your airplane to a location where you can accomplish the requirements of this AD.

(h) How do I get copies of the documents referenced in this AD? You may get copies of the documents referenced in this AD Pilatus Aircraft Ltd., Customer Liaison Manager, CH-6371 Stans, Switzerland; telephone: +41 41 619 63 19; facsimile: +41 41 619 6224; or from Pilatus Business Aircraft Ltd., Product Support Department, 11755 Airport Way, Broomfield, Colorado 80021; telephone: (303) 465-9099; facsimile: (303) 465-6040. You may view these documents at FAA, Central Region, Office of the Regional Counsel, 901 Locust, Room 506, Kansas City, Missouri 64106.

Note 3:

The subject of this AD is addressed in Swiss AD Number HB 2002-271, dated June 17, 2002.

Start Signature

Issued in Kansas City, Missouri, on December 9, 2002.

Michael Gallagher,

Manager, Small Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

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[FR Doc. 02-31753 Filed 12-17-02; 8:45 am]

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