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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Model 206A, B, L, L-1, L-3, and L-4 Helicopters

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:

Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

SUMMARY:

This document proposes superseding an existing airworthiness directive (AD) for the specified Bell Helicopter Textron Canada (BHTC) model helicopters. That AD currently requires an initial inspection and at specified intervals checks and inspections of the tail rotor blade (blade) for a deformation, a crack, and a bent or deformed tail rotor weight (weight). Also, that AD requires, before further flight, replacing each blade with an airworthy blade if a deformation, a crack, or a bent or deformed weight is found. This action would contain the same actions as the existing AD and would also propose adding certain serial-numbered blades to the applicability that were inadvertently omitted from the current AD and would require replacing each affected blade, which would be terminating action. This proposal is prompted by three reports of skin cracks originating near the blade trailing edge balance weight. The actions specified by the proposed AD are intended to prevent blade failure and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before December 16, 2005.

ADDRESSES:

Use one of the following addresses to submit comments on this proposed 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 proposed 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
  • You may examine the comments to this proposed AD in the AD docket on the Internet at http://dms.dot.gov.
Start Further Info

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.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Comments Invited

We invite you to submit any written data, views, or arguments regarding this proposed AD. Send your comments to the address listed under the caption ADDRESSES. Include the docket number “FAA-2005-22696, Directorate Identifier 2005-SW-22-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of the proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend the proposed 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 proposed rulemaking. 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 or signed 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. The postcard will be date stamped and returned to the commenter.

Examining the Docket

You may examine the docket that contains the proposed AD, any comments, and other information in person at the Docket Management System (DMS) Docket Office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The Docket Office (telephone 1-800-647-5227) is located at the plaza level of the Department of Transportation NASSIF Building in Room PL-401 at 400 Start Printed Page 60247Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after the DMS receives them.

Discussion

On November 22, 2004, the FAA issued AD 2004-24-08, Docket No. 2004-SW-12-AD, Amendment 39-13884 (69 FR 69810, December 1, 2004). That AD requires an initial inspection and at intervals not to exceed 12 hours time-in-service (TIS), a 10X inspection or at intervals not to exceed 24 hours TIS a 10X inspection and a 3-hour TIS check between each 24 hour TIS inspection of the blade for a deformation, a crack, and a bent or deformed weight. Also, that AD requires, before further flight, replacing each blade with an airworthy blade if a deformation, a crack, or a bent or deformed weight is found. That action was prompted by three reports of skin cracks originating near the blade trailing edge balance weight. The requirements of that AD are intended to prevent blade failure and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

Since issuing AD 2004-24-08, BHTC has issued Alert Service Bulletin 206-04-100 for Bell Model 206A and B helicopters, and 206L-04-127 for Bell Model 206L series helicopters, both Revision C, both dated March 5, 2005 (ASB). These ASBs add two warnings in the compliance section specifying returning the blade for balancing to Rotor Blades, Inc., and introduce new skin damage limits that supersede the previous damage limits. The ASB also gives a new address for Rotor Blades Inc.

When we issued AD 2004-24-08, we intentionally did not include the long-term requirement (no later than April 27, 2007) for removing and sending the affected blades to Rotor Blades, Inc. as specified by the manufacturer. We are including in this proposal a long-term requirement that the affected blades be replaced on or before April 27, 2007, as terminating action. This will allow public comments before any adoption of the long-term proposal. Additionally, in AD 2004-24-08, we inadvertently omitted blade serial numbers 10102 through 10114 from the applicability. We propose to correct that oversight with this action.

Transport Canada, the airworthiness authority for Canada, notified the FAA that an unsafe condition may exist on these helicopter models. Transport Canada advises of three reports of skin cracks originating near the blade trailing edge balance weight. Two of the occurrences caused a loss of the weight and a strip of material along the trailing edge leading to an imbalance, which caused the fracture of three of the four tail rotor gearbox attachments. One of these occurrences resulted in the gearbox shifting that caused failure of the drive shaft and resulting loss of yaw control. Transport Canada issued AD No. CF-2004-05R1, dated June 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.

Interested persons were afforded an opportunity to participate in the making of AD 2004-24-08, Amendment 39-13884, Docket No. 2004-SW-12-AD, which we are proposing to supersede. Due consideration has been given to the one comment received.

The commenter expresses concern about the 12-hour blade inspection by a mechanic and states the inspection will make this helicopter unsuitable for its intended use. The commenter states the alternate pilot check and mechanic inspection would require them to shut down 4-5 times each day increasing engine cycles. The commenter further states that since the only difference between the pilot check and the mechanic inspection is the 10X magnifier, pilots need to be certified to perform the 12-hour inspection.

While the FAA agrees the checks and inspections could increase engine cycles, the primary purpose of issuing an AD is to correct an unsafe condition. However, the terminating action proposed in this AD would eliminate the current mandated inspections. We do not agree that pilots need to be certified to perform inspections. Current FAA policy allows pilots holding at least a private pilot certificate to perform checks that do not require the use of tools, precision measuring equipment, training, pilot logbook endorsements, or reference to technical data not contained in the body of the AD. Pilots may only perform simple maintenance tasks that do not require special maintenance training. The inspection in the AD requires the use of a 10X or higher magnifying glass, which is not considered a simple visual check. In the interest of safety, the inspection must occur at the specified intervals and be performed by a qualified mechanic until the terminating action is accomplished.

The previously described unsafe condition is likely to exist or develop on other helicopters of these same type designs. Therefore, the proposed AD would supersede AD 2004-24-08 to require:

  • Before further flight, unless accomplished previously, and before installing any blade with an affected part number and serial number (S/N), cleaning the blade. Then, using a 10X or higher magnifying glass, inspecting both sides of each blade for a deformation, a crack, and a bent or deformed weight.
  • Thereafter, cleaning both sides of each blade and using a 10X or higher magnifying glass, inspecting for a deformation, a crack, and a bent or deformed weight as follows:
  • At intervals not to exceed 12 hours TIS, or
  • At intervals not to exceed 24 hours TIS and checking both sides of each blade for a deformation, a crack, and a bent or deformed weight at intervals not to exceed 3 hours TIS between inspections. An owner/operator (pilot) holding at least a private pilot certificate may perform the 3-hour TIS check for deformed or cracked blades and for bent or deformed weights. 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).
  • Before further flight, replacing each blade with an airworthy blade if you find a deformation, a crack, or a bent or deformed weight.
  • On or before April 27, 2007, replacing each affected blade with an airworthy blade that is identified by a “V” at the end of the blade S/N or an airworthy blade with a S/N other than one listed in the applicability section of this AD.

Replacing each blade with an airworthy blade that is identified by a “V” at the end of the blade S/N or an airworthy blade with a S/N other than one listed in the applicability section of this AD constitutes terminating action for the requirements of this AD.

The FAA estimates that this proposed AD would:

  • Affect 2194 helicopters of U.S. registry,
  • Take about 1/4 work hour for a blade check or inspection, and Start Printed Page 60248
  • Take 3 work hours to replace a blade at an average labor rate of $65 per work hour. Required parts would cost about $5848 per helicopter. (In its ASB, the manufacturer states it will give warranty credit based on hour usage on the blade with remaining life hours and other restrictions.) Based on these figures, we estimate the total cost impact of the proposed AD on U.S. operators to be $19,989,973. Costs assume—200 pilot checks, 26 mechanic inspections, and one blade replacement for 90 percent of the fleet with a nonconforming blade.

Regulatory Findings

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); 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.

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.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

End List of Subjects

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:

Start Part

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 removing Amendment 39-13884 (69 FR 69810, December 1, 2004), and by adding a new airworthiness directive (AD), to read as follows:

Bell Helicopter Textron Canada: Docket No. FAA-2005, Directorate Identifier 2005-SW-22-AD. Supersedes AD 2004-24-08, Amendment 39-13884, Docket No. 2004-SW-12-AD.

Applicability: Model 206A, B, L, L-1, L-3, and L-4 helicopters, with a tail rotor blade (blade) with the following part number (P/N) and serial number (S/N) installed, certificated in any category.

Model 206A & B; Blade, P/N 206-016-201-133, S/N with prefix “CS” and no “V” suffixModel 206A, B, L, L-1, L-3, & L-4; Blade, P/N P/N 206-016-201-131, S/N with prefix “CS” and no “V” suffix
1381 through 14427000 through 701810174 through 10218
1492 through 15177020 through 704310220
1520 through 15427045 through 705010232
15507052 through 713210235
15567134 through 724610237 through 10241
15607248 through 727010244
15627272 through 727710245
1564 through 15677279 through 733910248
1569 through 16067342 through 736810250 through 10264
1609778410266 through 10268
1611778610270 through 10274
1612778810276 through 10278
1614 through 16317790 through 779610280 through 10282
1633 through 16757798 through 781910284 through 10292
16777821 through 783310296
16787835 through 783910300 through 10330
1680 through 16827841 through 800110332
1684 through 17878003 through 802610333
1789 through 18038029 through 806110335 through 10347
1810 through 18128064 through 811710349
1814811910351 through 10359
18168121 through 813910363 through 10365
18208142 through 817610367
1823 through 18318178 through 826210373
1834 through 18368264 through 829410374
18388298 through 836810377 through 10385
1840 through 18448370 through 837510387 through 10408
18468378 through 841610410
1848 through 1882841910414 through 10417
1884 through 1887842110419 through 10427
1889 through 18938425 through 842810430
1896 through 18988430 through 843810432
1900844010437
1904844110438
Start Printed Page 60249
Model 206A & B; Blade, P/N 206-016-201-133, S/N with prefix “CS” and no “V” suffixModel 206A, B, L, L-1, L-3, & L-4; Blade, P/N P/N 206-016-201-131, S/N with prefix “CS” and no “V” suffix
1909 through 1912844310442 through 10445
19158445 through 844710458 through 10466
19168449 through 860610469
1919 through 19218608 through 862210470
19248624 through 862610474
1928 through 19318628 through 863210476 through 10478
19338635 through 865310480 through 10487
1934 through 19398655 through 868610489 through 10491
1943869010493 through 10495
19458692 through 870010497 through 10503
19478703 through 871510505 through 10588
19488717 through 872210591 through 10606
1952 through 19578724 through 874210608 through 10610
19608745 through 882810612 through 10620
1962 through 19658830 through 883510623
8838 through 884010624
8842 through 888110631 through 10655
8883 through 903210657 through 10669
9034 through 913910672
9141 through 919810673
920010676 through 10678
9202 through 930210680 through 10683
9304 through 933910685
9341 through 937110687
9373 through 941110689 through 10702
941310707
9415 through 941710712
9419 through 949610715
9498 through 958510730
9587 through 959410732 through 10734
9596 through 961810736
9621 through 962910738
9632 through 964210739
9645 through 965110746
9653 through 967310750
9675 through 970710756
9709 through 972410760
9727 through 973110761
9733 through 973510765
9737 through 973910770
9741 through 974810774 through 10776
9751 through 978510778
978710781
978810783 through 10785
9790 through 979210792
9795 through 984710794
9849 through 992810798
9930 through 993710799
9940 through 994210806 through 10808
9944 through 995210811
9955 through 997210814 through 10822
9974 through 998910824
9991 through 999510825
9997 through 1000410829
10006 through 1000910831
1001110917
10013 through 1001810923
10021 through 1003010931
1003410936
10036 through 1005710937
10061 through 1008210940
10090 through 1009210943
10094 through 1010010945
10102 through 1011410947
1011610948
1011910964
1012110965
10123 through 1013410973
10136 through 1014010982
10142 through 1014410985
10146 through 1017210986
Start Printed Page 60250

Compliance: Required as indicated.

To prevent blade failure and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter, do the following:

(a) Before further flight, unless accomplished previously, and before installing any blade with a P/N and S/N listed in the applicability section of this AD, clean the blade. Using a 10X or higher magnifying glass, inspect both sides of each blade for a deformation, a crack, and a bent or deformed weight in the area shown in Figure 1 of this AD.

Note 1:

Paint irregularities on the blade may indicate a crack.

(b) After doing paragraph (a) of this AD, at the following intervals, clean both sides of each blade and do either paragraph (1) or (2) as follows:

(1) At intervals not to exceed 12 hours time-in-service (TIS), using a 10X or higher magnifying glass, inspect both sides of each blade for a deformation, a crack, and a bent or deformed weight in the area shown in Figure 1 of this AD, or

(2) Inspect and check both sides of each blade for a deformation, a crack, and a bent or deformed weight in the area shown in Figure 1 of this AD as follows:

(i) Using a 10X or higher magnifying glass, inspect at intervals not to exceed 24 hours TIS, and

(ii) Check at intervals not to exceed 3 hours TIS between the inspections required by paragraph (b)(2)(i) 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).

(c) Before further flight, replace any blade that has a deformation, a crack, or a bent or deformed weight with an airworthy blade.

Note 2:

Bell Helicopter Textron Alert Service Bulletin No. 206-04-100 for Model 206A and B and No. 206L-04-127 for Model 206L series, both Revision C, both dated March 5, 2005, pertain to the subject of this AD.

(d) On or before April 27, 2007, for any affected part-numbered blade with a S/N listed in the applicability section of this AD:

(1) Replace the blade with a blade that has a S/N other than one listed in the applicability section of this AD, or

(2) Replace the blade with a blade that has a S/N listed in the applicability section of this AD and also has a “V” suffix.

(e) Replacing each blade with an airworthy blade as required by paragraph (d) of this AD constitutes terminating action for the requirements of this AD.

(f) 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, Rotorcraft Directorate, FAA, for information about previously approved alternative methods of compliance.

Note 3:

The subject of this AD is addressed in Transport Canada (Canada) AD No. CF-2004-05R1, dated June 28, 2004.

Start Signature

Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on October 7, 2005.

David A. Downey,

Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Part End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 05-20681 Filed 10-14-05; 8:45 am]

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