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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Eurocopter France Model AS350B3 Helicopters

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.

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AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration, DOT.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

SUMMARY:

This document proposes adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for Eurocopter France (Eurocopter) Model AS350B3 helicopters. This proposal would require inspecting the ASU No. 2 printed circuit board (PCB) to determine if the resistor R8 is installed, and if it is not installed, replacing the PCB with an airworthy PCB with that resistor installed. This proposal is prompted by the discovery of a PCB without a critical resistor that polarizes the voltage regulator that regulates electrical power to a critical warning light, a critical caution light, and the main rotor revolutions per minute (RPM) signal to the vehicle engine management display (VEMD). The actions specified by the proposed AD are intended to prevent the malfunction of the two critical lights and the rotor RPM signal to the VEMD, failure of these components to timely alert the pilot to the associated malfunctions, further helicopter damage because of these malfunctions, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before March 24, 2003.

ADDRESSES:

Submit comments in triplicate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, Attention: Rules Docket No. 2002-SW-05-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. 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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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

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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 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-05-AD.” The postcard will be date stamped and returned to the commenter.

Discussion

The Direction Generale De L'Aviation Civile (DGAC), the airworthiness authority for France, notified the FAA that an unsafe condition may exist on Eurocopter Model AS350B3 helicopters. Start Printed Page 2715The DGAC advises that the absence of a resistor R8 on the ASU No. 2 boards can lead to a malfunction of the electric circuits supplying the “BATT. TEMP.” red warning light, the “ENGINE CHIP” amber caution light, and the rotor RPM signal output to the VEMD.

This proposal is prompted by an anomaly discovered by the manufacturer. The actions specified by this proposed AD are intended to prevent failure of the “BATT. TEMP.” warning light, which, if combined with a battery overheat, can result in a battery thermal runaway without the pilot's knowledge. An uncontrolled battery thermal runaway can result in an explosion that could cause loss of the control of the helicopter.

Eurocopter has issued Service Bulletin No. 77.00.07, dated March 27, 2000, which specifies checking to determine if the resistor R8 is installed on the PCB within 25 hours time-in-service (TIS) and, if a resistor R8 is not installed, replacing the PCB with one that has a resitor R8 installed within 50 hours TIS. The DGAC classified this service bulletin as mandatory and issued AD No. 2001-319-083(A), dated July 25, 2001, to ensure the continued airworthiness of these helicopters in France.

This helicopter model is manufactured in France and is 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 this type design that are certificated for operation in the United States.

This unsafe condition is likely to exist or develop on other helicopters of the same type design registered in the United States. Therefore, the proposed AD would require, within 15 hours time-in-service (TIS), inspecting the ASU No. 2 PCB on helicopters with serial numbers 3062 and earlier to determine if the resistor R8 is installed, and if it is not installed, replacing the PCB with an airworthy PCB with resistor R8 installed within 50 hours TIS.

The FAA estimates that 30 helicopters of U.S. registry would be affected by this proposed AD, that it would take approximately 1 work hour per helicopter to accomplish the proposed actions, and that the average labor rate is $60 per work hour. Required parts would cost $1,200. The manufacturer states in its service bulletin that PCB's will be replaced free of charge. Based on these figures, the total cost impact of the proposed AD on U.S. operators is estimated to be $37,800, if a PCB is replaced in the entire fleet and there is no free replacement by the manufacturer.

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.

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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:

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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 a new airworthiness directive to read as follows:

Eurocopter France: Docket No. 2002-SW-05-AD.

Applicability: Model AS350B3 helicopters, serial numbers (S/N) 3062 and earlier, 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 as indicated, unless accomplished previously.

To prevent malfunction of the electrical circuits controlling the “BATT. TEMP.” red warning light, the “ENGINE CHIP” amber caution and the rotor revolutions-per-minute (RPM) signal output to the vehicle engine management display (VEMD), accomplish the following:

(a) Within 15 hours time-in-service (TIS), inspect the ASU No. 2 printed circuit board (PCB), part number SE 03022, to determine if resistor R8 is installed.

(b) If the resistor R8 is not installed, within 50 hours TIS, replace the PCB with an airworthy PCB that has resistor R8 installed.

Note 2:

Eurocopter Service Bulletin No. 77.00.07, dated March 27, 2000, pertains to the subject 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 3:

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 may be issued in accordance with 14 CFR 21.197 and 21.199 to operate the helicopter to a location where the requirements of this AD can be accomplished.

Note 4:

The subject of this AD is addressed in Direction Generale De L'Aviation Civile (France) AD 2001-319-083(A), dated July 25, 2001.

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Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on January 11, 2003.

David A. Downey,

Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

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[FR Doc. 03-1191 Filed 1-17-03; 8:45 am]

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