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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Saab Model SAAB SF340A and SAAB 340B Series Airplanes

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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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 the adoption of a new airworthiness directive (AD) that is applicable to certain Saab Model SAAB SF340A and Model SAAB 340B series airplanes. This proposal would require inspections of the internal structure of the nacelles for cracks, deformations, or other damage, and corrective actions if necessary. This action is necessary to prevent fatigue cracks in the outer flange of the nacelle frame, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the nacelle supporting structure. This action is intended to address the identified unsafe condition.

DATES:

Comments must be received by March 8, 2004.

ADDRESSES:

Submit comments in triplicate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transport Airplane Directorate, ANM-114, Attention: Rules Docket No. 2003-NM-18-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. 2003-NM-18-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 for Windows or ASCII text.

The service information referenced in the proposed rule may be obtained from Saab Aircraft AB, SAAB Aircraft Product Support, S-581.88, Linköping, Sweden. This information may be examined at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington.

Start Further Info

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.

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 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 2003-NM-18-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. 2003-NM-18-AD, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98055-4056.

Discussion

The Luftfartsverket (LFV), which is the airworthiness authority for Sweden, notified the FAA that an unsafe condition may exist on certain Saab Model SAAB SF340A and SAAB 340B series airplanes. The LFV advises that it has received reports of fatigue cracks in the outer flange of nacelle frame station 203 between water line (WL) 92 to WL96. This condition, if not detected and corrected in a timely manner, could lead to reduced structural integrity of the nacelle supporting structure.

Explanation of Relevant Service Information

Saab has issued Service Bulletin 340-54-043, dated December 18, 2002, which describes procedures for detailed and ultrasonic inspections of the internal structure of the nacelles for cracks, deformations and damage, and corrective actions if necessary. The corrective actions include replacement of the firedeck attachment angle with a new angle and repair of cracks, deformation, and damage. This service bulletin recommends compliance times for the inspections at the following approximate flight cycle levels:

1. For airplanes with less than 20,000 total flight cycles, accomplish before 24,000 total flight cycles; and

2. For airplanes with 20,000 total flight cycles or more, accomplish within 2,000 to 4,000 flight cycles after the service bulletin's release date, depending on the airplane's total flight cycles.

Accomplishment of the actions specified in the service bulletin is intended to adequately address the Start Printed Page 5779identified unsafe condition. The LFV classified this service bulletin as mandatory and issued Swedish airworthiness directive No 1-176, dated December 20, 2002, in order to assure the continued airworthiness of these airplanes in Sweden.

FAA's Conclusions

These airplane models are manufactured in Sweden and are type certificated for operation in the United States under the provisions of section 21.29 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR 21.29) and the applicable bilateral airworthiness agreement. Pursuant to this bilateral airworthiness agreement, the LFV has kept the FAA informed of the situation described above. The FAA has examined the findings of the LFV, reviewed all available information, and determined that AD action is necessary for products of this type design that are certificated for operation in the United States.

Explanation of Requirements of Proposed Rule

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 the service bulletin described previously, except as discussed below.

Differences Between Proposed Rule and Service Bulletin

Although the service bulletin specifies that operators may contact the manufacturer for disposition of certain repairs, this proposal would require operators to repair per a method approved by either the FAA or LFV (or its delegated agent). In light of the type of repair that would be required to address the unsafe condition, and consistent with existing bilateral airworthiness agreements, we have determined that, for this proposed AD, a repair approved by either the FAA or LFV would be acceptable for compliance with this proposed AD.

Clarification of Compliance Times

For compliance times, the service bulletin specifies “accumulated flights” and “flights”. However, for these compliance times, paragraph (c) of this proposed AD specifies “total flight cycles” and “flight cycles”. This decision is based on our determination that “accumulated flights” and “flights” may be interpreted differently by different operators. We find that our proposed terminology is generally understood within the industry and records will always exist that establish these cycles with certainty.

Cost Impact

The FAA estimates that 224 airplanes of U.S. registry would be affected by this proposed AD, that it would take approximately 4 work hours per airplane to accomplish the proposed inspection, and that the average labor rate is $65 per work hour. Based on these figures, the cost impact of the proposed AD on U.S. operators is estimated to be $58,240, or $260 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 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.

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.

Start List of Subjects

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:

Saab Aircraft AB: Docket 2003-NM-18-AD.

Applicability: Model SAAB SF340A series airplanes with serial numbers 004 through 159 inclusive, and Model SAAB 340B series airplanes with serial numbers 160 through 459 inclusive, certificated in any category.

Compliance: Required as indicated, unless accomplished previously.

To prevent fatigue cracks in the outer flange of the nacelle frame, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the nacelle supporting structure, accomplish the following:

Inspection

(a) Perform detailed and ultrasonic inspections, as applicable, of the internal structure of the nacelles for cracks, deformations, or other damage, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Saab Service Bulletin 340-54-043, dated December 18, 2002. Do the inspection at the applicable time specified by paragraph 1.D, “Compliance”, of the service bulletin, except as required by paragraph (b) and (c) of this AD.

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.”

(b) Where the service bulletin specified in paragraph (a) of this AD specifies a compliance time relative to the release date of the service bulletin, this AD requires compliance following the effective date of this AD.

(c) Where the service bulletin specified in paragraph (a) of this AD uses “accumulated flights” and “flights” for compliance times, this AD requires operators to use “total flight cycles” and “flight cycles”.

Repair

(d) If any crack, deformation, or damage is found during any inspection required by paragraph (a) of this AD, before further flight, repair and replace the firedeck attachment angle with a new angle, as applicable, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Saab Service Bulletin 340-54-Start Printed Page 5780043, dated December 18, 2002. Where the service bulletin specifies contacting the manufacturer for disposition of repairs, before further flight, repair per a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate; or the Luftfartsvarket (or its delegated agent).

Alternative Methods of Compliance

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

Note 2:

The subject of this AD is addressed in Swedish airworthiness directive No 1-176, dated December 20, 2002.

Start Signature

Issued in Renton, Washington, on January 29, 2004.

Kalene C. Yanamura,

Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Part End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 04-2475 Filed 2-5-04; 8:45 am]

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