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Airworthiness Directives; Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Model 222, 222B, 222U, 230, and 430 Helicopters

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration, DOT.

ACTION:

Final rule; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

This amendment adopts a new airworthiness directive (AD) for the specified Bell Helicopter Textron (BHTC) model helicopters. This action requires certain checks and inspections of the tail rotor blades. If a crack is found, before further flight, this AD requires replacing the tail rotor blade (blade) with an airworthy blade. This amendment is prompted by three reports of cracked blades found during scheduled inspections. The actions specified in this AD are intended to detect a crack in the blade and prevent loss of a blade and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

DATES:

Effective January 18, 2005.

Comments for inclusion in the Rules Docket must be received on or before March 4, 2005.

ADDRESSES:

Use one of the following addresses to submit comments on this AD:

  • DOT Docket Web site: Go to http://dms.dot.gov and follow the instructions for sending your comments electronically;
  • Government-wide rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the instructions for sending your comments electronically;
  • Mail: Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Nassif Building, Room PL-401, Washington, DC 20590;
  • Fax: (202) 493-2251; or
  • Hand Delivery: Room PL-401 on the plaza level of the Nassif Building, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

You may get the service information identified in this AD from Bell Helicopter Textron Canada, 12,800 Rue de l'Avenir, Mirabel, Quebec J7J1R4, telephone (450) 437-2862 or (800) 363-8023, fax (450) 433-0272.

Examining the Docket

You may examine the docket that contains the AD, any comments, and other information on the Internet at http://dms.dot.gov, or in person at the Docket Management System (DMS) Docket Offices between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The Docket Office (telephone (800) 647-5227) is located on the plaza level of the Department of Transportation Nassif Building at the street address stated in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after the DMS receives them.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Sharon Miles, Aviation Safety Engineer, FAA, Rotorcraft Directorate, Regulations and Guidance Group, Fort Worth, Texas 76193-0111, telephone (817) 222-5122, fax (817) 222-5961.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

This amendment adopts a new AD for the specified BHTC model helicopters. This action requires certain checks and inspections of the blades. If a crack is found, before further flight, this AD requires replacing the blade with an airworthy blade. This amendment is prompted by three reports of cracked blades found during scheduled inspections. This condition, if not detected, could result in loss of a blade and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

Transport Canada, the airworthiness authority for Canada, notified the FAA that an unsafe condition may exist on the specified BHTC model helicopters. Transport Canada advises of the discovery of cracked blades during scheduled inspections on three occasions. Two cracks originated from the outboard feathering bearing bore underneath the flanged sleeves. The third crack started from the inboard feathering bearing bore. Investigation found that the cracks originated from either a machining burr or a corrosion site in the bearing bore underneath the flanged sleeves.

BHTC has issued Alert Service Bulletin (ASB) No. 222-04-100 for Model 222 and 222B helicopters, No. 222U-04-71 for Model 222U helicopters, No. 230-04-31 for Model 230 helicopters, and No. 430-04-31 for Model 430 helicopters, all dated August 27, 2004. The ASBs specify a repetitive visual inspection every 3 hours time-in-service (TIS) and a 50-hour inspection of the blade root end around the feathering bearings for a crack. Transport Canada classified these ASBs as mandatory and issued AD CF-2004-21, dated October 28, 2004, to ensure the continued airworthiness of these helicopters in Canada.

These helicopter models are manufactured in Canada and are type certificated for operation in the United States under the provisions of 14 CFR 21.29 and the applicable bilateral agreement. Pursuant to the applicable bilateral agreement, Transport Canada has kept the FAA informed of the situation described above. The FAA has examined the findings of Transport Canada, reviewed all available information, and determined that AD action is necessary for products of these type designs that are certificated for operation in the United States.

This unsafe condition is likely to exist or develop on other helicopters of the same type designs. Therefore, this AD is being issued to prevent loss of a blade and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter. This AD requires the following:

  • Within 3 hours time-in-service (TIS), and at specified intervals, clean and visually check both sides of each blade for a crack in the area around the tail rotor feathering bearing. An owner/operator (pilot) may perform the check for cracked blades. Pilots may perform these checks because they require no tools, can be done by observation, and can be done equally well by a pilot or a mechanic. However, the pilot must enter compliance with these requirements into the helicopter maintenance records by following 14 CFR 43.11 and 91.417(a)(2)(v).
  • Within 50 hours TIS and at specified intervals, clean and inspect both sides of each blade for a crack using a 10X or higher magnifying glass.
  • If a crack is found even in the paint during a visual check or during a 50-hour TIS inspection, before further flight, a further inspection of the blade for a crack is required as follows:
  • Remove the blade. Remove the paint to the bare metal in the area of the suspected crack by using Plastic Metal Blasting (PMB) or a nylon web abrasive pad and abrading the blade surface in a span-wise direction only.
  • Using a 10X or higher power magnifying glass, inspect the blade for a crack.
  • If a crack is found, before further flight, replace the blade with an airworthy blade.
  • If no crack is found in the blade surface, refinish the blade by applying one coat of MIL-P-23377 or MIL-P-85582 Epoxy Polyamide Primer so that the primer overlaps the existing coats Start Printed Page 8just beyond the abraded area. Let the area dry for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Then, apply one sealer coat of Polyurethane MILC85285 TYI CL2, color Number 27925 (semi-gloss white) per Fed. Std. 595 and reinstall the blade.

The short compliance time involved is required because the previously described critical unsafe condition can adversely affect the controllability and structural integrity of the helicopter. Therefore, checking the blade within 3 hours TIS and at intervals not to exceed 3 hours TIS is required, and this AD must be issued immediately.

Since a situation exists that requires the immediate adoption of this regulation, it is found that notice and opportunity for prior public comment hereon are impracticable, and that good cause exists for making this amendment effective in less than 30 days.

We estimate that this AD will affect 156 helicopters and require:

  • 1/4 hour for a pilot check, assuming 200 a year; and 2 hours for a maintenance inspection, assuming 12 a year at an average labor rate of $65 per work hour;
  • Parts cost at about $13,410 per helicopter, assuming one blade replacement a year. Based on these figures, the estimated total cost impact of the AD on U.S. operators is $2,842,320 per year.

Comments Invited

This AD is a final rule that involves requirements that affect flight safety and was not preceded by notice and an opportunity for public comment; however, we invite you to submit any written data, views, or arguments regarding this AD. Send your comments to an address listed under ADDRESSES. Include “Docket No. FAA-2004-19969; Directorate Identifier 2004-SW-43-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of the AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend the AD in light of those comments.

We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://dms.dot.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact with FAA personnel concerning this AD. Using the search function of our docket Web site, you can find and read the comments to any of our dockets, including the name of the individual who sent the comment. You may review the DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-78), or you may visit http://dms.dot.gov.

Regulatory Findings

We have determined that this AD will not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132. This AD will 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.

For the reasons discussed above, I certify that the 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. 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.

We prepared an economic evaluation of the estimated costs to comply with this AD. See the DMS to examine the economic evaluation.

Authority for This Rulemaking

Title 49 of the United States Code specifies the FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety. Subtitle I, Section 106, describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the Agency's authority.

We are issuing this rulemaking under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart III, Section 44701, “General requirements.” Under that section, Congress charges the FAA with promoting safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing regulations for practices, methods, and procedures the Administrator finds necessary for safety in air commerce. This regulation is within the scope of that authority because it addresses an unsafe condition that is likely to exist or develop on products identified in this rulemaking action.

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List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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Adoption of the Amendment

Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the Federal Aviation Administration amends part 39 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR part 39) as follows:

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PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES

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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]
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2. Section 39.13 is amended by adding a new airworthiness directive to read as follows:

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AD 2004-26-11 Bell Helicopter Textron Canada: Amendment 39-13923. Docket No. FAA-2004-19969; Directorate Identifier 2004-SW-43-AD.

Applicability: The following helicopter models, identified by serial number and with the following part number (P/N) tail rotor blade (blade), installed, certificated in any category.

ModelSerial No.Blade P/N
22247006 through 47089222-016-001-123, -127, -131, and -135.
222B47131 through 47156222-016-001-123, -127, -131, and -135.
222U47501 through 47574222-016-001-123, and -131.
23023001 through 23038222-016-001-123, and -131.
43049001 through 49105222-016-001-123, and -131.

Compliance: Required as indicated.

To detect a crack in the blade and prevent loss of the blade and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter, accomplish the following:

(a) Within 3 hours time-in-service (TIS) and at intervals not to exceed 3 hours TIS, clean and visually check both sides of each blade for a crack in the paint in the areas shown in Figure 1 of this AD. An owner/operator (pilot), holding at least a private pilot certificate, may perform this visual check and must enter compliance with this paragraph into the helicopter maintenance records by following 14 CFR sections 43.11 and 91.417(a)(2)(v).

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Note 1: Bell Helicopter Textron Alert Service Bulletins 222-04-100, 222U-04-71, 230-04-31, and 430-04-32, all dated August 27, 2004, pertain to the subject of this AD.

(b) If a crack is found in the paint while complying with paragraph (a) of this AD, before further flight, inspect the blade by removing the blade and by abrading the area and following the other requirements in paragraph (c) of this AD.

(c) Within the next 50 hours TIS, unless accomplished previously, and at intervals not to exceed 50 hours TIS, clean the blade by wiping down both surfaces of each blade in the inspection area depicted in Figure 1 of this AD using aliphatic naptha (C-305) or detergent (C-318) or equivalents. Using a 10X or higher power magnifying glass, visually inspect both sides of the blade in the areas depicted in Figure 1 of this AD.

(1) If even a crack is found in the paint, before further flight, remove the blade.

(2) Remove the paint to the bare metal in the area of the suspected crack by using Plastic Metal Blasting (PMB) or a nylon web abrasive pad. Abrade the blade surface in a span-wise direction only.

Note 2: PMB may cause damage to helicopter parts if performed by untrained personnel. BHT-ALL-SPM, chapter 3, paragraph 3-24 pertains to the subject of this AD.

(3) Using a 10X or higher power magnifying glass, inspect the blade for a crack.

(i) If a crack is found, before further flight, replace the blade with an airworthy blade.

(ii) If no crack is found in the blade surface, refinish the blade by applying one coat of MIL-P-23377 or MIL-P-85582 Epoxy Polyamide Primer so that the primer overlaps Start Printed Page 10the existing coats just beyond the abraded area. Let the area dry for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Then, apply one sealer coat of Polyurethane MILC85285 TYI CL2, color Number 27925 (semi-gloss white) per Fed. Std. 595. Reinstall the blade.

Note 3: BHT-ALL-SPM, chapter 4, pertains to painting.

(d) 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, FAA, for information about previously approved alternative methods of compliance.

(e) Special flight permits may be issued by following 14 CFR 21.197 and 21.199 to operate the helicopter to a location where the requirements of this AD can be accomplished provided you do not find a crack in the paint during a check or inspection.

(f) This amendment becomes effective January 18, 2005.

Note 4: The subject of this AD is addressed in Transport Canada (Canada) Airworthiness Directive CF-2004-21, dated October 28, 2004.

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Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on December 23, 2004.

Kim Smith,

Acting Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

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[FR Doc. 04-28628 Filed 12-30-04; 8:45 am]

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