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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Boeing Model 737-100, -200, -200C, -300, -400, and -500 Series Airplanes

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 the adoption of a new airworthiness directive (AD) that is applicable to certain Boeing Model 737-100, -200, -200C, -300, -400, and -500 series airplanes. This proposal would require replacing the existing screw, nut, and washers that attach the latch cable assembly to the latch block assembly of the door mounted escape slides, with the new, improved screw, nut, and washers. This action is necessary to prevent the latch cable assembly from disconnecting from the latch block assembly of the door mounted escape slide, which could result in an escape slide not deploying in an emergency situation. This action is intended to address the identified unsafe condition.

DATES:

Comments must be received by November 3, 2003.

ADDRESSES:

Submit comments in triplicate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transport Airplane Directorate, ANM-114, Attention: Rules Docket No. 2001-NM-156-AD, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98055-4056. Comments may be inspected at this location between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. Comments may be submitted via fax to (425) 227-1232. Comments Start Printed Page 54685may also be sent via the Internet using the following address: 9-anm-nprmcomment@faa.gov. Comments sent via fax or the Internet must contain “Docket No. 2001-NM-156-AD” in the subject line and need not be submitted in triplicate. Comments sent via the Internet as attached electronic files must be formatted in Microsoft Word 97 or 2000 or ASCII text.

The service information referenced in the proposed rule may be obtained from Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, PO Box 3707, Seattle, Washington 98124-2207. This information may be examined at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Keith Ladderud, Aerospace Engineer, Cabin Safety and Environmental Systems Branch, ANM-150S, FAA, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98055-4056; telephone (425) 917-6435; fax (425) 917-6590.

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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 shall 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, specified above, will be considered before taking action on the proposed rule. The proposals contained in this action may be changed in light of the comments received.

Submit comments using the following format:

  • Organize comments issue-by-issue. For example, discuss a request to change the compliance time and a request to change the service bulletin reference as two separate issues.
  • For each issue, state what specific change to the proposed AD is being requested.
  • Include justification (e.g., reasons or data) for each request.

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 comments submitted in response to this action must submit a self-addressed, stamped postcard on which the following statement is made: “Comments to Docket Number 2001-NM-156-AD.” The postcard will be date stamped and returned to the commenter.

Availability of NPRMs

Any person may obtain a copy of this NPRM by submitting a request to the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, ANM-114, Attention: Rules Docket No. 2001-NM-156-AD, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98055-4056.

Discussion

An operator reported that the cable on a door mounted escape slide had disconnected from the latch block assembly on a Boeing Model 737 series airplane. Investigation revealed that a production change had increased the size of the latch cable loops, which could allow the latch cable assembly to disconnect from the latch block assembly. This condition, if not corrected, could result in an escape slide not deploying in an emergency situation, and consequent reduction in the number of exits available in an evacuation.

Related Rulemaking

On November 29, 1985, the FAA issued AD 85-25-04, amendment 39-5179 (50 FR 49923, December 6, 1985). That AD required inspecting the escape slides and modifying the escape slide containers; and, on certain airplanes, the AD required inspecting, modifying escape slide installations, and functional testing; in accordance with Boeing Service Bulletin 737-25A1182, Revision 2, Parts I, III and IV, dated November 12, 1985.

On February 25, 1986, the FAA issued AD 86-05-04, amendment 39-5249 (51 FR 7433, March 4, 1986). That AD required installing retaining straps for the escape slide covers on the aft doors, in accordance with Boeing Service Bulletin 737-25A1182, Revision 2, Part II, dated November 12, 1985.

Explanation of Relevant Service Information

The FAA has reviewed and approved Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-25-1434, dated March 22, 2001, which describes procedures for replacing the existing screw, nut, and washers that attach the latch cable assembly to the latch block assembly of the door mounted escape slides, with the new, improved screw, nut, and washers. Accomplishment of the actions specified in the service bulletin is intended to adequately address the identified unsafe condition.

The service bulletin also specifies installation of the double loop escape slide latch cable assembly as described in Boeing Service Bulletin 737-25A1182, dated September 18, 1985, as a concurrent requirement. (See “Related Rulemaking” above.)

Explanation of Requirements of Proposed Rule

Since an unsafe condition has been identified that is likely to exist or develop on other products of this same type design, the proposed AD would require accomplishment of the actions specified in the service bulletin described previously, except as described below.

Differences Between Service Bulletin and Proposed Rule

Although the service bulletin recommends accomplishing the replacement “at the next scheduled maintenance period when manpower, materials, and facilities are available,” the FAA has determined that such an imprecise compliance time would not address the identified unsafe condition in a timely manner. In developing an appropriate compliance time for this proposed action, the FAA considered not only the manufacturer's recommendation, but the degree of urgency associated with addressing the subject unsafe condition, the average utilization of the affected fleet, and the time necessary to perform the replacement. In light of all of these factors, the FAA finds that a compliance time of 18 months for completing the proposed actions to be warranted, in that it represents an appropriate interval of time for affected airplanes to continue to operate without compromising safety.

Changes to 14 CFR Part 39/Effect on the Proposed AD

On July 10, 2002, the FAA issued a new version of 14 CFR part 39 (67 FR 47997, July 22, 2002), which governs the FAA's airworthiness directives system. The regulation now includes material that relates to altered products, special flight permits, and alternative methods of compliance (AMOCs). Because we have now included this material in part 39, only the office authorized to approve AMOCs is identified in each individual AD.

Change to Labor Rate Estimate

We have reviewed the figures we have used over the past several years to calculate AD costs to operators. To account for various inflationary costs in the airline industry, we find it necessary Start Printed Page 54686to increase the labor rate used in these calculations from $60 per work hour to $65 per work hour. The cost impact information, below, reflects this increase in the specified hourly labor rate.

Cost Impact

There are approximately 2,919 airplanes of the affected design in the worldwide fleet. The FAA estimates that 1,129 airplanes of U.S. registry would be affected by this proposed AD. The FAA estimates that it would take approximately 2 work hours for each airplane specified as Group 1 in the referenced service bulletin, and approximately 1 work hour for each airplane specified as Group 2 in the referenced service bulletin, to accomplish the proposed actions; the average labor rate is estimated to be $65 per work hour. Parts and materials are standard and are to be supplied by the operator. Based on these figures, the cost impact of the proposed AD on U.S. operators is estimated to be $130 per Group 1 airplane, and $65 per Group 2 airplane.

The cost impact figures discussed above are based on assumptions that no operator has yet accomplished any of the proposed requirements of this AD action, and that no operator would accomplish those actions in the future if this proposed AD were not adopted. The cost impact figures discussed in AD rulemaking actions represent only the time necessary to perform the specific actions actually required by the AD. These figures typically do not include incidental costs, such as the time required to gain access and close up, planning time, or time necessitated by other administrative actions. The manufacturer may cover the cost of replacement parts associated with this proposed AD, subject to warranty conditions. Manufacturer warranty remedies may also be available for labor costs associated with this proposed AD. As a result, the costs attributable to the proposed AD may be less than stated above.

Regulatory Impact

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 the following new airworthiness directive:

Boeing: Docket 2001-NM-156-AD.

Applicability: Model 737-100, -200, -200C, -300, -400, and -500 series airplanes, as listed in Boeing Service Bulletin 737-25-1434, dated March 22, 2001; certificated in any category.

Compliance: Required as indicated, unless accomplished previously.

To prevent the latch cable assembly from disconnecting from the latch block assembly of the door mounted escape slides, which could result in an escape slide not deploying in an emergency situation, accomplish the following:

Replacement

(a) Within 18 months after the effective date of this AD, replace the existing screw, nut, and washers that attach the latch cable assembly to the latch block assembly of the door mounted escape slides, with the new, improved screw, nut, and washers; per the Work Instructions of Boeing Service Bulletin 737-25-1434, dated March 22, 2001.

Parts Installation

(b) As of the effective date of this AD, no person may install a nut, part number (P/N) BACN10R10L, that was removed from any airplane; or install a screw, P/N NAS623-3-8; on any airplane.

Alternative Methods of Compliance

(c)(1) In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, the Manager, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), FAA, is authorized to approve alternative methods of compliance (AMOC) for this AD.

(2) An AMOC that provides an acceptable level of safety may be used for repair of the latch cable assembly and the latch block assembly for the door mounted escape slide, if it is approved by a Boeing Company Designated Engineering Representative (DER) who has been authorized by the Manager, Seattle ACO, to make such findings.

Start Signature

Issued in Renton, Washington, on September 11, 2003.

Vi L. Lipski,

Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

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[FR Doc. 03-23822 Filed 9-17-03; 8:45 am]

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