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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Eurocopter France Model AS350B, AS350BA, AS350B1, AS350B2, AS350B3, AS350C, AS350D, AS350D1, AS355E, AS355F, AS355F1, AS355F2, and AS355N 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 superseding an existing airworthiness directive (AD) for the specified Eurocopter France (ECF) model helicopters. The existing AD requires inspecting the main rotor swashplate bearing (bearing) for play or binding, proper assembly and lubrication, and measuring the swashplate rotational torque. In addition, that AD requires plugging the nonrotating swashplate vent holes and barrel nut orifices. This amendment would eliminate most of those AD actions because they are now incorporated into the Airworthiness Limitations section of the maintenance manual but would retain the requirements for the initial and repetitive inspections and lubrication of the main rotor swashplate and clarify that repetitive maintenance of the main rotor swashplate and bearing is required at intervals not to exceed 100 hours time-in-service (TIS). This proposal is prompted by the need to clarify the AD wording to avoid any misinterpretation of the required interval for inspecting and lubricating the main rotor swashplate and bearing. The actions specified by the proposed AD are intended to prevent failure of the bearing and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before July 15, 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-44-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:

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:

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-44-AD.” The postcard will be date stamped and returned to the commenter.

Discussion

On March 21, 1990, the FAA issued AD 89-21-01, Amendment 39-6562, Docket No. 89-ASW-53 (55 FR 12332, April 3, 1990), to require inspecting the bearing for play or binding, proper assembly and lubrication, and for measuring the swashplate rotational torque. In addition, that AD requires plugging the nonrotating swashplate vent holes and barrel nut orifices at specified hours TIS. The requirements of that AD are intended to prevent failure of the bearing, which could result in loss of helicopter control.

Since issuing that AD, an FAA inspector reports that the repetitive lubrication requirement in paragraph (c) of AD 89-21-01 requiring lubrication “within every 100 hours’ additional time-in-service” is being misinterpreted by a certain operator to only require lubrication every 199 hours rather than the intended 100-hour interval. Therefore, the inspector recommends that AD 89-21-01 be rewritten to clearly state that lubrication of the bearings be required at intervals not to exceed 100 hours TIS. To remove any doubt as to the intended lubrication interval, we propose to adopt the suggested language. The additional requirements contained in AD 89-21-01 for inspecting and servicing the main rotor swashplate are omitted from this proposal because they are contained currently in the mandatory Airworthiness Limitations section of the Eurocopter Master Servicing Recommendations (maintenance manual) for the Model AS 350, dated April 26, 2001, and for the Model AS 355, dated May 31, 2001.

This unsafe condition is likely to exist or develop on other helicopters of the same type designs. Therefore, the proposed AD would supersede AD 89-21-01 to clarify that the required inspection and lubrication interval of the main rotor swashplate must be accomplished within 10 hours TIS, Start Printed Page 26553unless complied with previously, and thereafter at intervals not to exceed 100 hours TIS.

The FAA estimates that this proposed AD would affect 587 helicopters of U.S. registry, that it would take approximately 2 work hours per helicopter to accomplish the proposed actions, and that the average labor rate is $60 per work hour. Based on these figures, the total cost impact of the proposed AD on U.S. operators is estimated to be $422,640, assuming 6 inspections per year.

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 removing Amendment 39-6562 (55 FR 12332, April 3, 1990) and by adding a new airworthiness directive (AD) to read as follows:

Eurocopter France: Docket No. 2002-SW-44-AD. Supersedes AD 89-21-01, Amendment 39-6562, Docket No. 89-ASW-53.

Applicability: Model AS350B, AS350BA, AS350B1, AS350B2, AS350B3, AS350C, AS350D, AS350D1, AS355E, AS355F, AS355F1, AS355F2, and AS355N 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 (b) 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.

Note 2:

The current Airworthiness Limitations sections of the Eurocopter AS 350 and AS 355 maintenance manuals contain requirements for inspecting and lubricating the main rotor swashplate at intervals not to exceed 100 hours time-in-service (TIS).

To prevent failure of the main rotor swashplate bearing and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter, accomplish the following:

(a) Within 10 hours time-in-service (TIS) and thereafter at intervals not to exceed 100 hours TIS, inspect and lubricate the main rotor swashplate.

Note 3:

Eurocopter Master Servicing Recommendations, Airworthiness Limitations section, AS 350, dated April 26, 2001, and AS 355, dated May 31, 2001, pertain to the subject of this AD.

(b) 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 4:

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

(c) Special flight permits will not be issued.

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Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on May 9, 2003.

Mark R. Schilling,

Acting Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

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[FR Doc. 03-12209 Filed 5-15-03; 8:45 am]

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