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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Model A319 and A320 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:

Supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking; reopening of comment period.

SUMMARY:

This document revises an earlier proposed airworthiness directive (AD), applicable to certain Airbus Model A319 and A320 series airplanes. That proposed AD would have required an inspection of the clearance space between the fuel quantity indication (FQI) probes located in the center fuel tank and the adjacent structure, an inspection of the position of the support bracket for each probe, an inspection of the part number for each support bracket, and corrective action if necessary. This new action revises the proposed rule by expanding the applicability of the proposed AD. The actions specified by this new proposed AD are intended to prevent the loss of FQI of the center fuel tank, and electrical arcing between the FQI probes and the adjacent structure in the event that the airplane is struck by lightning. Such arcing could create a potential ignition source within the center fuel tank and an increased risk of a fuel tank explosion and fire. This action is intended to address the identified unsafe condition.

DATES:

Comments must be received by December 29, 2003.

ADDRESSES:

Submit comments in triplicate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transport Airplane Directorate, ANM-114, Attention: Rules Docket No. 2001-NM-301-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 may 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-301-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 Airbus Industrie, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France. 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:

Dan Rodina, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98055-4056: telephone (425) 227-2125; fax (425) 227-1149.

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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-301-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-301-AD, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98055-4056.

Discussion

A proposal to amend part 39 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR part 39) to add an airworthiness directive (AD), applicable to certain Airbus Model A319 and A320 series airplanes, was published as a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register on January 3, 2003 (68 FR 317). That NPRM would have required an inspection of the clearance space between the fuel quantity indication (FQI) probes located in the center fuel tank and the adjacent structure; an inspection of the position of the support bracket for each probe; an inspection of the part number for each support bracket; and corrective action if necessary. That NPRM was prompted by issuance of mandatory continuing airworthiness information by a civil airworthiness authority. Incorrect installation of the support brackets for the FQI probes, if not corrected, could result in loss of FQI of the center fuel tank, and electrical arcing between the FQI probes and the adjacent structure in Start Printed Page 67623the event that the airplane is struck by lightning. Such arcing could create a potential ignition source within the center fuel tank and an increased risk of a fuel tank explosion and fire.

Actions Affecting Original NPRM

Since the issuance of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-28A1096, Revision 01, dated July 4, 2001, which was cited in the original NPRM as the appropriate source of service information for the proposed actions, Airbus has issued Service Bulletin A320-28A1096, Revision 03, dated August 27, 2002. Revision 03 of the service bulletin adds one airplane to the effectivity listing of the service bulletin and makes minor editorial changes. (Also after the issuance of Revision 01 of the service bulletin, Airbus issued Service Bulletin A320-28A1096, Revision 02, dated October 16, 2001, to add to the repair procedure instructions for applying interface sealant and to add a check of electrical bonding, and to make certain other nonsubstantive changes.)

Comments

The FAA has given due consideration to the comments received in response to the NPRM.

Support for the Proposal

One commenter supports the proposed AD, and one commenter states that it has no comment.

Request To Extend Compliance Time

One commenter requests that we extend the compliance time from 4,000 flight hours to 5,000 flight hours after the effective date of the AD. The commenter's rationale is that its C-check maintenance interval averages 4,863 flight hours.

We do not concur with the commenter's request. We note that the commenter operates 5 of the 24 U.S.-registered airplanes affected by this supplemental NPRM. In developing an appropriate compliance time for this AD, we considered the recommendation of the Direction Generale de l'Aviation Civile (DGAC) (which is the airworthiness authority for France), the degree of urgency associated with the subject unsafe condition, and the practical aspect of accomplishing the necessary actions within an interval that parallels normal scheduled maintenance for the majority of affected operators. In light of all of these factors, we have determined that a 4,000-flight-hour compliance time represents an appropriate interval of time for affected airplanes to continue to operate without compromising safety, while allowing the majority of affected operators to comply at a scheduled maintenance interval. We have made no change to this supplemental NPRM in this regard; however, under the provisions of paragraph (d) of this proposal, we may approve requests for adjustments of the compliance time if data are submitted to substantiate that such an adjustment would provide an acceptable level of safety.

Explanation of New Requirements of Supplemental NPRM

Since an unsafe condition has been identified that is likely to exist or develop on other airplanes of the same type design registered in the United States, the proposed AD would require accomplishment of the actions specified in Airbus Service Bulletin A320-28A1096, Revision 03.

Conclusion

Since the changes described previously expand the scope of the originally proposed rule, the FAA has determined that it is necessary to reopen the comment period to provide additional opportunity for public comment.

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 AD system. This 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. Therefore, in this supplemental NPRM, Note 1 and paragraph (d) of the original NPRM have been removed, and paragraph (c) of the original NPRM has been revised and is included as paragraph (d) of this supplemental NPRM.

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 to 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 25 airplanes of U.S. registry that would be affected by this proposed AD. It would take approximately 1 work hour per airplane to accomplish the proposed inspection, at an average labor rate of $65 per work hour. Based on these figures, the cost impact of the proposed AD on U.S. operators is estimated to be $1,625, or $65 per airplane.

The cost impact figure discussed above is 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 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.

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.

End Authority
[Amended]

2. Section 39.13 is amended by adding the following new airworthiness directive:

Airbus: Docket 2001-NM-301-AD.

Applicability: Model A319 and A320 series airplanes, as listed in Airbus Service Bulletin A320-28A1096, Revision 03, dated August 27, 2002; certificated in any category.

Compliance: Required as indicated, unless accomplished previously.

To prevent the loss of fuel quantity indication (FQI) of the center fuel tank, and to reduce the potential for an ignition source and possible explosion within the center fuel tank due to electrical arcing between the FQI probes and the adjacent structure in the event that the airplane is struck by lightning, accomplish the following:

Inspection

(a) Within 4,000 flight hours after the effective date of this AD, perform the actions specified in paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2) of this AD per the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-28A1096, Revision 03, dated August 27, 2002. Although this service bulletin specifies to submit certain information to the manufacturer, this AD does not include such a requirement.

(1) Perform a one-time detailed inspection for proper clearance space between each FQI probe located in the center fuel tank and the adjacent structure; and a one-time detailed inspection of the position of the support bracket for each probe.

Note 1:

For the purposes of this AD, a detailed inspection is defined as: “An intensive visual examination of a specific structural area, system, installation, or assembly to detect damage, failure, or irregularity. Available lighting is normally supplemented with a direct source of good lighting at intensity deemed appropriate by the inspector. Inspection aids such as mirror, magnifying lenses, etc., may be used. Surface cleaning and elaborate access procedures may be required.”

(2) Inspect the support bracket for each probe to determine the part number of the support bracket.

Corrective Action

(b) During the inspections required by paragraph (a) of this AD, if the clearance between any FQI probe and the adjacent structure is determined to be less than 6.00 millimeters (0.236 inch), or if the position or part number of any probe support bracket is not correct, before further flight, remove and re-install the probe and its support bracket in the correct position, per Airbus Service Bulletin A320-28A1096, Revision 03, dated August 27, 2002.

Inspections Accomplished Per Previous Issue of Service Bulletin

(c) Inspections and corrective actions accomplished before the effective date of this AD per Airbus Service Bulletin A320-28A1096, dated March 23, 2001; Revision 01, dated July 4, 2001; or Revision 02, dated October 16, 2001; are considered acceptable for compliance with the corresponding action specified in this AD.

Alternative Methods of Compliance

(d) In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, is authorized to approve alternative methods of compliance for this AD.

Note 2:

The subject of this AD is addressed in French airworthiness directive 2001-271(B), dated June 27, 2001.

Start Signature

Issued in Renton, Washington, on November 26, 2003.

Kalene C. Yanamura,

Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Part End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 03-30113 Filed 12-2-03; 8:45 am]

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