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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Eurocopter France Model AS332C, AS332L, AS332L1, and AS332L2 Helicopters

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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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 AS332C, AS332L, AS332L1, and AS332L2 helicopters. This proposal would require inspecting certain main rotor blades for disbonds, which may be indicated by cracking, and repairing or replacing each main rotor blade (MRB) as necessary. This proposal is prompted by the discovery of disbonded leading edge protective strips. The actions specified by this proposed AD are intended to detect disbonding between the stainless steel protective strip and the MRB skin, which could cause loss of the protective strip, an out-of-balance condition, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before September 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-58-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, Safety Management Group, 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-58-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 AS332 C, L, and L1 helicopters. The DGAC advises that checking each MRB to ensure the adhesion of the glass cloth blade cap, which is located between the MRB skin and the leading edge stainless steel protective strips, is necessary.

Eurocopter has issued AS 332 Service Bulletin 05.00.22, Revision 4, dated April 6, 2000, for the Model AS332C, L, L1, and L2 helicopters, which specifies checking for cracking developing spanwise along the stainless steel leading edge over a chordwise width of 0 to 6mm aft of the stainless steel strip on the MRB upper and lower surfaces. If spanwise cracking is found that is greater than 30mm or if the distance between two cracks is less than 40mm, a sound check using a tapping method to check the bonding is specified. If disbonding is present, measuring the depth of each disbond with a feeler gauge is specified. If the depth of the disbond exceeds 10mm, returning the MRB to the works for repair is specified. If no disbonding is present, or if the disbond is less than 10mm, reconditioning the MRB by removing the cracked caulking material and recaulking the blade is specified. The DGAC classified this service bulletin as mandatory and issued AD 1988-099-035(A) R5, dated June 14, 2000, to ensure the continued airworthiness of certain 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 these type designs 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 designs registered in the United States. Therefore, the proposed AD would require inspecting each MRB for disbonding within 100 hours time-in-service (TIS), and repairing or replacing each MRB as necessary. Thereafter, repetitive inspections are Start Printed Page 41971required at different intervals, based on the MRB serial number. The actions would be required to be accomplished in accordance with the service bulletin described previously.

The FAA estimates that 3 helicopters of U.S. registry would be affected by this proposed AD, that it would take approximately 2 work hours per helicopter to inspect each MRB (8 hours per helicopter), and that an estimated 2 MRB's per helicopter will have to be removed and replaced with airworthy MRB's, requiring 3 work hours to remove and replace each MRB. The average labor rate is $65 per work hour. The estimated cost of parts is $50,000 for each blade. Based on these figures, the total cost impact of the proposed AD on U.S. operators is estimated to be $302,730.

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-58-AD.

Applicability:

Group 1: Model AS332C, L, and L1 helicopters with main rotor blade (MRB), part number (P/N) 332A11-0022-00 through -03; P/N 332A11-0022-04, except those incorporating MOD 0740596; P/N 332A11-0024-00 through -05; and P/N 332A11-0025-00 through -05, installed certificated in any category.

Group 2: Model AS332C, L, and L1 helicopters with MRB, P/N 332A11-0022-04, that incorporates MOD 0740596; P/N 332A11-0024-06 and all higher dash numbers; and P/N 332A11-0025-06 and all higher dash numbers; and Model AS332L2 helicopters with MRB, P/N 332A11-0040—all dash numbers, 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 (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 the unsafe condition has not been eliminated, the request should include specific proposed actions to address it.

Compliance: Helicopters listed in “Group 1” of the “Applicability” section of this AD, comply within 100 hours time-in-service (TIS) and thereafter at intervals not to exceed 100 hours TIS for MRB's having a serial number listed in the following table:

126127131132134137139154156160
162168171176196208209211219223
224225226242253261272310327342
377378379381383386391392394395
398399404419422423424425426443
4554564584624826687448859091019
1031103210331036105110551061107010991101
1106111711511155115711581162116711681169
1186119812011205121012131242124612481268
133214101524

For helicopters listed in “Group 1” of the “Applicability” section of this AD, with MRB's having a serial number not listed in the previous table, comply within 100 hours TIS, and thereafter at intervals not to exceed 250 hours TIS.

For helicopters listed in “Group 2” of the “Applicability” section of this AD, with MRB's having 400 or more hours TIS, comply within 100 hours TIS, and thereafter at intervals not to exceed 500 hours TIS; and

For helicopters listed in “Group 2” of the “Applicability” section of this AD, with MRB's having less than 400 hours TIS, comply prior to the MRB's accumulating 500 hours TIS, and thereafter at intervals not to exceed 500 hours TIS.

To detect disbonding between the stainless steel protective strip and the MRB skin, which could cause loss of the protective strip, an out-of-balance condition, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter, accomplish the following:

(a) Inspect each MRB for disbonding in accordance with paragraph 2.B.1. of the Accomplishment Instructions in Eurocopter AS 332 Service Bulletin No. 05.00.22, Revision 4, dated April 6, 2000 (SB).

(b) If there is spanwise cracking which exceeds 30mm (1.18 inches) or there are 2 or more cracks with less than 40mm (1.57 inches) spacing, remove or support the MRB, remove any protective shield, and perform a tapping test on the leading edge of the MRB.

(c) If the tapping test does not indicate a disbond, repair the crack in accordance with paragraph 2.B.2.a) of the Accomplishment Instructions in the SB and recaulk and apply touch-up paint in accordance with paragraph 2.B.3. of the Accomplishment Instructions in the SB.

(d) If the tapping test indicates a disbond, measure the depth of the disbond in accordance with paragraph 2.B.2.b) and 2.B.2.c) of the Accomplishment Instructions in the SB.

(1) If disbonding is less than 10mm in depth, repair the crack in accordance with paragraph 2.B.2.a) of the Accomplishment Instructions in the SB, and recaulk and apply touch-up paint in accordance with paragraph 2.B.3. of the Accomplishment Instructions in the SB.

(2) If disbonding is 10mm or greater in depth, the MRB is unairworthy and must be replaced before further flight.

(e) 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, Safety Management Group, Rotorcraft Directorate, FAA. Operators shall submit their requests through an FAA Principal Maintenance Inspector, who may concur or comment and Start Printed Page 41972then send it to the Manager, Safety Management Group.

Note 2:

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

(f) 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 3:

The subject of this AD is addressed in Direction Generale De L'Aviation Civile (France) AD 1988-099-035(A) R5, dated June 14, 2000.

Start Signature

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

Mark R. Schilling,

Acting Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

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[FR Doc. 03-17953 Filed 7-15-03; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-13-P