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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Eurocopter France Model AS355E, F, F1, F2, and N 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.

Start Preamble

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. That AD currently requires certain checks of the magnetic chip detector plug (chip detector) and the main gearbox (MGB) oil-sight glass; certain inspections of the lubrication pump (pump), if necessary; replacing the MGB and the pump with an airworthy MGB and pump, if necessary; and a different MGB or pump with any time-in-service (TIS) must meet the AD requirements before being installed. This document proposes the same requirements but also proposes to correct the wording in the existing AD to state that the check of the chip detector is for sludge rather than metal particles. This proposal is prompted by the need to correct the wording to require that the check of the chip detector is for sludge rather than metal particles because the term “metal particles” is misleading. The actions specified by this AD are intended to detect sludge on the chip detector, to prevent failure of the MGB pump, seizure of the MGB, loss of drive to an engine and main rotor, 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. 2003-SW-10-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.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ed Cuevas, Aviation Safety Engineer, FAA, Rotorcraft Directorate, Safety Management Group, Fort Worth, Texas 76193-0111, telephone (817) 222-5355, fax (817) 222-5961.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

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. 2003-SW-10-AD.” The postcard will be date stamped and returned to the commenter.

Discussion

On October 17, 2002, the FAA issued Emergency AD 2002-21-51. That Emergency AD was published in the Federal Register as a final rule; request for comments on December 18, 2002 (67 FR 77401). That AD requires checking the chip detector for metal particles and the MGB oil-sight glass for dark oil; taking an oil sample if dark oil is observed; further inspection of the pump, if necessary; and replacing the MGB and the pump with an airworthy MGB and pump, if necessary. Also, that AD requires that a different MGB or pump with any TIS must meet the requirements of the AD before being installed. That AD was prompted by four reports of malfunction of the MGB pump. The bearings of the driven pinion inside the pump can deteriorate resulting in pump failure and loss of oil pressure in the MGB. The requirements of that AD are intended to prevent seizure of the MGB, loss of drive to an engine and main rotor, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

Since issuing that AD, the FAA has learned that the meaning of the source information in the DGAC AD was inadvertently changed. The check of the chip detector should be for “sludge” rather than “metal particles” as required in the existing AD. The presence of metal particles on the chip detector is already addressed in the maintenance manuals. Operators should continue to follow the maintenance manual instructions when metal particles are present on the chip detector. Therefore, the proposed AD would supersede AD 2002-21-51 to replace the words “metal particles” with the word “sludge” and to define “sludge.” The term “sludge” is used to describe a deposit on the chip detector. This deposit may have both metallic and nonmetallic properties. It is typically dark in color and in the form of a film or paste, as compared to metal chips or particles normally found on the chip detector.

An owner/operator (pilot) may perform the visual checks for sludge on the chip detector and for dark oil in the Start Printed Page 41978MGB oil-sight glass and must enter compliance with those requirements into the helicopter maintenance records in accordance with 14 CFR 43.11 and 91.417(a)(2)(v). A pilot may perform these checks because they only involve visual checks for sludge on the chip detector, which can be removed without the use of tools, and for dark oil in the MGB oil-sight glass and can be performed equally well by a pilot or a mechanic.

Also, since issuing that AD, ECF has issued a revised Alert Telex No. 05.00.40 R1, dated November 27, 2002, which in addition to the specifications of Alert Telex No. 05.00.40, dated June 6, 2002, gives operators the choice of having the pump, the MGB, and the main rotor mast examined by an ECF specialist. The Direction Generale De L'Aviation Civile (DGAC) classified Alert Telex 05.00.40 R1 as mandatory and issued a revised AD No. 2002-331-071(A) R1, dated January 22, 2003, to ensure the continued airworthiness of these helicopters in France. Therefore, we have updated this proposed AD to reference the more current service information.

On July 10, 2002, the FAA issued a new version of 14 CFR part 39 (67 FR 47997, July 22, 2002), which governs FAA's AD system. This regulation now includes material that relates to altered products, special flight permits, and alternative methods of compliance. Because we have now included this material in 14 CFR part 39, we no longer need to include it in each individual AD.

The FAA estimates that this AD will affect approximately 105 helicopters of U.S. registry. The FAA also estimates that it will take approximately 10 minutes to check the chip detector and the MGB oil sight glass, 4 work hours to remove the MGB and pump, 1 work hour to inspect the pump, and 4 work hours to install a serviceable MGB and pump. The average labor rate is $60 per work hour. Required parts will cost approximately $4000 for an overhauled pump and up to $60,000 for an overhauled MGB per helicopter. The manufacturer has represented to the FAA that the standard warranty applies if failure occurs within the first 2 years and operating time is less than 1000 hours. Based on these figures, the FAA estimates a total cost impact of the AD on U.S. operators to be $337,540 per year, assuming replacement of one MGB and pump on one helicopter per year and a daily check on all helicopters for 260 days 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 39-12982 (67 FR 77401, December 18, 2002), and by adding a new airworthiness directive (AD), to read as follows:

Eurocopter France: Docket No. 2003-SW-10-AD. Supersedes AD 2002-21-51, Amendment 39-12982, Docket No. 2002-SW-48-AD.

Applicability: Model AS355E, F, F1, F2, and N helicopters, with a main gearbox (MGB) lubrication pump (pump), part number 355A32-0700-00, -01,-01M, installed, certificated in any category.

Compliance: Required as indicated, unless accomplished previously.

To prevent failure of the MGB pump, seizure of the MGB, loss of drive to an engine and main rotor, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter, accomplish the following:

(a) Before the first flight of each day and at intervals not to exceed 10 hours time-in-service (TIS), check the MGB magnetic chip detector plug (chip detector) for any sludge. Also, check for dark oil in the MGB oil-sight glass. An owner/operator (pilot) holding at least a private pilot certificate may perform this visual check and must enter compliance into the aircraft maintenance records in accordance with 14 CFR 43.11 and 91.417(a)(2)(v). “Sludge” is a deposit on the chip detector that is typically dark in color and in the form of a film or paste, as compared to metal chips or particles normally found on a chip detector. Sludge may have both metallic or nonmetallic properties, may consist of copper (pinion bearing), magnesium (pump case), and steel (pinion) from the oil pump, and a nonmetallic substance from the chemical breakdown of the oil as it interacts with the metal.

Note 1:

Eurocopter France Alert Telex No. 05.00.40 R1, dated November 27, 2002, pertains to the subject of this AD.

(b) Before further flight, if any sludge is found on the chip detector, inspect the pump.

(c) Before further flight, if the oil appears dark in color when it is observed through the MGB oil-sight glass, take an oil sample. If the oil taken in the sample is dark or dark purple, before further flight, inspect the pump.

(d) While inspecting the pump, if you find any of the following, replace the MGB and the pump with an airworthy MGB and pump before further flight:

(1) Crank pin play,

(2) Out of round bronze bushing (A of Figure 1),

(3) Offset of the driven gear pinion,

(4) Metal chips, or

(5) Wear (C of Figure 1).

See the following Figure 1:

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Start Printed Page 41980

Note 2:

If wear is present in the B area only as depicted in Figure 1, replacing the MGB and the pump is not required.

(e) Before installing a different MGB or a pump with any TIS, accomplish the requirements of paragraph (a) of this AD.

(f) To request a different method of compliance or a different compliance time for this AD, follow the procedures in 14 CFR 39.19. Contact the Safety Management Group, Rotocraft Directorate, FAA, for information about previously approved alternative methods of compliance.

Note 3:

The subject of this AD is addressed in Direction Generale De L'Aviation Civile (France) AD 2002-331-071(A) R1, dated January 22, 2003.

Start Signature

Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on July 1, 2003.

David A. Downey,

Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

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BILLING CODE 4910-13-P

[FR Doc. 03-17957 Filed 7-15-03; 8:45 am]

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