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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Boeing Model 777-200 and -300 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.

Start Preamble

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 Boeing Model 777-200 and -300 series airplanes. The proposed AD would have required a one-time inspection of the clevis end of the vertical tie rods that support the center stowage bins to measure the exposed thread, installation of placards that advise of weight limits for certain electrical racks, a one-time inspection and records check to determine the amount of weight currently installed in those electrical racks, corrective actions, and replacement of the vertical tie rods for the center stowage bins or electrical racks with new improved tie rods, as applicable. This new action revises the proposed rule by proposing to require, for certain airplanes, inspections of additional tie rod part numbers and additional locations. This new action also proposes to revise an inspection method. The actions specified by this new proposed AD are intended to prevent failure of the tie rods supporting certain electrical racks and the center stowage bins, which could cause the racks or stowage bins to fall onto passenger seats below during an emergency landing, impeding an emergency evacuation or injuring passengers. This action is intended to address the identified unsafe condition.

DATES:

Comments must be received by July 19, 2004.

ADDRESSES:

Submit comments in triplicate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transport Airplane Directorate, ANM-114, Attention: Rules Docket No. 2001-NM-89-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-89-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 Airplanes, P.O. Box 3707, Seattle, Washington 98124-2207. This information may be examined at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Robert Kaufman, 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) 917-6433; fax (425) 917-6590.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:Start Printed Page 34967

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-89-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-89-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 Boeing Model 777-200 and -300 series airplanes, was published as a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register on September 9, 2003 (68 FR 53055). That NPRM would have required, for all airplanes, installation of a placard that advises of weight limits for a certain electrical rack, accomplishment of a one-time inspection and records check to determine the amount of weight currently installed in that rack, and removal of equipment from that rack if necessary. For certain airplanes, that NPRM also would have required a one-time inspection of the clevis end of the vertical tie rods that support the center stowage bins to measure the exposed thread, installation of placards that advise of weight limits for certain other electrical racks, a one-time inspection and records check to determine the amount of weight currently installed in certain other electrical racks, corrective actions, and replacement of the vertical tie rods for the center stowage bins or electrical racks with new improved tie rods, as applicable. That NPRM was prompted by a report indicating that, under certain conditions on Boeing Model 777-200 and -300 series airplanes, the vertical tie rods that attach the center stowage bins and electrical racks to the airplane structure can break. That condition, if not corrected, could result in the racks or stowage bins falling onto passenger seats below during an emergency landing, impeding an emergency evacuation or injuring passengers.

Explanation of New Relevant Service Information

Since the issuance of that NPRM, the FAA has reviewed and approved Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-25-0144, Revision 2, dated January 15, 2004. (The NPRM referred to Boeing Service Bulletin 777-25-0144, Revision 1, dated January 10, 2002, as the appropriate source of service information for accomplishing the proposed actions.) Among other things, for certain airplanes, Revision 2 of the service bulletin includes additional affected tie rod part numbers and additional locations that are subject to the one-time inspection to measure the exposed thread of the clevis end of the vertical tie rods supporting the center stowage bins, and installation of a threaded sleeve if necessary. Revision 2 of the service bulletin also divides the Accomplishment Instructions into Parts 1, 2, and 3, with Parts 2 and 3 of the Accomplishment Instructions providing instructions for airplanes in certain groups that were modified per the original issue or Revision 1 of the service bulletins. (Parts 2 and 3 specify inspecting the clevis end of the vertical support tie rod for the center stowage bin in certain locations to determine whether a threaded sleeve was installed, and installing a threaded sleeve and re-torquing the jam nuts, as applicable.)

Also, while the instructions in Revision 1 of the service bulletin for replacing the vertical support tie rods for the center stowage bin specify inspecting through the witness hole to make sure tie rod threads are visible, Revision 2 of the service bulletin revises this instruction to specify inserting a pin in the witness hole to ensure that the witness hole is blocked by the clevis shank.

Accomplishment of the actions specified in the service bulletin is intended to adequately address the identified unsafe condition.

Explanation of Additional Changes to Supplemental NPRM

We have revised paragraph (b) of this supplemental NPRM to specify corrective actions that may be necessary as a result of findings from the inspection in that paragraph. The corrective actions were not specifically identified in the original NPRM.

Paragraph (e) of the original NPRM specifies that, where the service bulletin specifies to contact Boeing for appropriate action, repair would be required per a method approved by the FAA, or per data approved by an authorized Boeing Company Designated Engineering Representative. The instruction to contact Boeing has been removed from Revision 2 of the service bulletin, so paragraph (e) of the original NPRM is not included in this supplemental NPRM.

Conclusion

Since certain 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.

Cost Impact

There are approximately 282 airplanes of the affected design in the worldwide fleet. The FAA estimates that 84 airplanes of U.S. registry would be affected by this proposed AD.

For all airplanes: The records check and inspection to determine the weight currently installed in electrical rack E7 would take approximately 1 work hour per airplane to accomplish, at an average labor rate of $65 per work hour. Based on these figures, the cost impact of this proposed records check and inspection on U.S. operators is estimated to be $5,460, or $65 per airplane.

For all airplanes: It would take approximately 1 work hour to Start Printed Page 34968accomplish the proposed installation of a placard specifying weight limits for electrical rack E7, at an average labor rate of $65 per work hour. Required parts would cost approximately $29. Based on these figures, the cost impact of this proposed placard installation on U.S. operators is estimated to be $7,896, or $94 per electrical rack.

For airplanes subject to the records check and inspection to determine the weight currently installed in electrical rack E9, E11, E13, or E15: It would take approximately 1 work hour per electrical rack (up to 4 racks per airplane) to accomplish, at an average labor rate of $65 per work hour. Based on these figures, the cost impact of this proposed records check and inspection is estimated to be as much as $260 per airplane.

For airplanes subject to the installation of a placard specifying weight limits for electrical rack E9, E11, E13, or E15: It would take approximately 1 work hour per electrical rack to accomplish, at an average labor rate of $65 per work hour. Required parts would cost approximately $29 per electrical rack. Based on these figures, the cost impact of this proposed installation is estimated to be as much as $376 per airplane.

For airplanes subject to the inspection of the clevis end of the vertical support tie rod for the center stowage bin to measure the exposed thread: It would take as much as 3 work hours per airplane (0.25 work hour per tie rod, with up to 12 subject tie rods per airplane) at an average labor rate of $65 per work hour. Based on these figures, the cost impact of this proposed inspection is estimated to be as much as $195 per airplane.

For airplanes subject to the replacement of the vertical tie rods that support the center stowage bins: It would take as much as 6 work hours per airplane (0.5 work hour per tie rod, with up to 12 subject tie rods per airplane) at an average labor rate of $65 per work hour. Required parts would cost as much as $3,020 per airplane. Based on these figures, this proposed replacement is estimated to be as much as $3,410 per airplane.

For airplanes subject to the replacement of the vertical tie rods that support the electrical racks: It would take as much as 2 work hours per airplane (0.5 work hour per tie rod with up to 4 subject tie rods per airplane) at an average labor rate of $65 per work hour. Required parts would cost as much as $3,012 per airplane. Based on these figures, this proposed replacement is estimated to be as much as $3,142 per 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 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:

Start Authority

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:

Boeing: Docket 2001-NM-89-AD.

Applicability: Model 777-200 and -300 series airplanes; line numbers 002 through 151 inclusive, 153 through 157 inclusive, 159 through 195 inclusive, 197 through 211 inclusive, 213 through 237 inclusive, 239 through 241 inclusive, and 243 through 282 inclusive; certificated in any category.

Compliance: Required as indicated, unless accomplished previously.

To prevent failure of the vertical tie rods that attach the center stowage bins and electrical racks to the airplane structure, which could cause the center stowage bins and electrical racks to fall onto passenger seats below, impeding an emergency evacuation or injuring passengers, accomplish the following:

Inspection To Determine Weight and Placard Installation

(a) For airplanes in the groups listed in the table under paragraph 3.B.1.b.(3) of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-25-0144, Revision 2, dated January 15, 2004: Within 5 years after the effective date of this AD, do the applicable actions in paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2) of this AD.

(1) Install placards that show weight limits for electrical racks E7, E11, and E15; as applicable; per the Accomplishment Instructions of the service bulletin.

(2) For each electrical rack on which a placard was installed per paragraph (a)(1) of this AD: Before further flight after installing the placard, perform a one-time inspection and records check to determine the weight of equipment installed in that electrical rack. This records review and inspection must include determining what extra equipment, if any, has been installed in the subject rack of the airplane, performing a detailed inspection to determine whether this equipment is installed on the airplane, calculating the total weight of the installed equipment, and comparing that total to the weight limit specified on the placard installed per paragraph (a)(1) of this AD. If the weight is outside the limits specified in the placard to be installed per the service bulletin, before further flight, remove equipment from the rack to meet the weight limit specified in the placard.

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.”

Inspection To Measure Exposed Thread and Corrective Actions

(b) For airplanes in the groups listed in the table under paragraph 3.B.1.b.(1) of the Start Printed Page 34969Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-25-0144, Revision 2, dated January 15, 2004: Within 5 years after the effective date of this AD, perform a detailed inspection of the clevis end of the vertical support tie rod for the center stowage bin to measure the exposed thread, per the Accomplishment Instructions of the service bulletin. If the measurement of the exposed thread is outside the limits specified in Figure 2 of the service bulletin, before further flight, perform all corrective actions specified in steps 2 through 14 inclusive of Figure 2 of the service bulletin (including installing a threaded sleeve, torquing the jam nuts, inserting a pin in the witness hole to ensure that the witness hole is blocked by the clevis shank, and making any applicable adjustment of the clevis). Perform the corrective actions per the Accomplishment Instructions of the service bulletin, except as provided by paragraph (e) of this AD.

Replacement of Tie Rods for Center Stowage Bin

(c) For airplanes in Group 21, as listed in the Airplane Group column of the table under 3.B.1.b.(2) of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-25-0144, Revision 2, dated January 15, 2004: Within 5 years after the effective date of this AD, replace the vertical support tie rods for the center stowage bin with new improved tie rods (including replacing the existing tie rod with a new improved tie rod, torquing the jam nuts, inserting a pin in the witness hole to ensure that the witness hole is blocked by the clevis shank, and making any applicable adjustment of the clevis) by doing all actions specified in steps 1 through 8 of Figure 3 of the service bulletin. Do these actions per the Accomplishment Instructions of the service bulletin. Any required adjustment of the clevis must be done before further flight.

Inspection To Determine Weight, Tie Rod Replacement, and Placard Installation

(d) For airplanes in the groups listed in the table under paragraph 3.B.1.b.(4) of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-25-0144, Revision 2, dated January 15, 2004: Do the actions in paragraphs (d)(1), (d)(2), and (d)(3) of this AD.

(1) Within 5 years after the effective date of this AD, replace the vertical support tie rods for electrical racks E9, E11, and E13 (including replacing the existing tie rods with new improved tie rods, replacing an existing tie rod clamp with a new improved tie rod clamp, performing a free-play inspection of certain electrical racks, adjusting jam nuts as applicable, performing a general visual inspection through the witness hole to make sure tie rod threads are visible, and making any applicable adjustment to ensure tie rod threads are visible) by doing all actions specified in Figures 5, 6, 7, and 9 of the service bulletin; as applicable. Do these actions per the Accomplishment Instructions of the service bulletin. Any required adjustment must be done before further flight.

(2) Before further flight after accomplishing paragraph (d)(1) of this AD, install placards that show weight limits for electrical racks E9, E11, and E13; as applicable; per the Accomplishment Instructions of the service bulletin.

(3) For each electrical rack on which a placard was installed per paragraph (d)(2) of this AD: Before further flight after accomplishing paragraphs (d)(1) and (d)(2) of this AD, perform a one-time inspection and records check to determine the weight of equipment installed in that electrical rack. This records review and inspection must include determining what, if any, extra equipment has been installed in the subject racks of the airplane, performing a detailed inspection to determine that this equipment is installed on the airplane, calculating the total weight of the installed equipment, and comparing that total to the weight limit specified on the placard installed per paragraph (d)(2) of this AD. If the weight is outside the limits specified in the placard, before further flight, remove equipment from the rack to meet the weight limit specified in the placard.

Actions Accomplished Previously

(e) Actions accomplished before the effective date of this AD per the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Service Bulletin 777-25-0144, dated January 25, 2001; or Revision 1, dated January 10, 2002; are acceptable for compliance with the corresponding actions required by this AD, provided that the additional actions specified in Part 2 or 3 of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-25-0144, Revision 2, dated January 15, 2004, are accomplished within the compliance time specified in this AD.

Alternative Methods of Compliance

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

Start Signature

Issued in Renton, Washington, on June 16, 2004.

Ali Bahrami,

Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Part End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 04-14183 Filed 6-22-04; 8:45 am]

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