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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Model A318, A319, A320, and A321 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 (FAA), Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

SUMMARY:

The FAA proposes to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all Airbus Model A318, A319, A320, and A321 airplanes. This proposed AD would require repetitive inspections of the operation of the main landing gear (MLG) door opening sequence to determine if a defective actuator is installed, and replacing any defective actuator with a new actuator. This proposed AD results from reports of slow operation of the MLG door opening/closing sequence due to a defective actuator. We are proposing this AD to detect and correct defective actuators of the MLG door, which could result in slow operation of the MLG door and consequent non-extension of the MLG during an emergency freefall operation.

DATES:

We must receive comments on this proposed AD by January 8, 2007.

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.
  • 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.

Contact Airbus, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France, for service information identified in this proposed AD.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Tim Dulin, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone (425) 227-2141; fax (425) 227-1149.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Comments Invited

We invite you to submit any relevant written data, views, or arguments regarding this proposed AD. Send your comments to an address listed in the ADDRESSES section. Include the docket number “FAA-2006-26272; Directorate Identifier 2006-NM-153-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 AD. Using the search function of that Web site, anyone can find and read the comments in any of our dockets, including the name of the individual who sent the comment (or signed the comment on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). 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.

Examining the Docket

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

Discussion

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the airworthiness Start Printed Page 71102authority for the European Union, notified us that an unsafe condition may exist on all Airbus Model A318, A319, A320, and A321 airplanes. The EASA advises that there have been several reports of slow operation of the MLG door opening/closing sequence due to a defective actuator. This could lead to the generation of electronic centralized aircraft monitor warnings during the landing gear retraction or extension sequence. Investigation revealed that the affected MLG doors were difficult to open manually (unusually high pressure was required to extend the actuator to open the door) due to a problem with the door actuator. The damping ring and associated retaining ring were found broken, with subsequent damage to the damping housing from resulting debris. The resulting high friction delays the MLG extension/retraction sequence. This condition, if not corrected, could result in slow operation of the MLG door and consequent non-extension of the MLG during an emergency freefall operation.

Relevant Service Information

Airbus has issued Service Bulletin A320-32-1309, dated March 7, 2006. The service bulletin describes procedures for repetitive inspections of the operation of the main landing gear door (MLG) opening sequence to determine if a defective actuator is installed, and replacing any defective actuator with a new actuator. Accomplishing the actions specified in the service information is intended to adequately address the unsafe condition. The EASA mandated the service information and issued airworthiness directive 2006-0112, dated May 15, 2006, to ensure the continued airworthiness of these airplanes in France.

FAA's Determination and Requirements of the Proposed AD

These airplane models are manufactured in France 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. As described in FAA Order 8100.14A, “Interim Procedures for Working with the European Community on Airworthiness Certification and Continued Airworthiness,” dated August 12, 2005, the EASA has kept the FAA informed of the situation described above. We have examined the EASA's findings, evaluated all pertinent information, and determined that we need to issue an AD for airplanes of this type design that are certificated for operation in the United States.

Therefore, we are proposing this AD, which would require accomplishing the actions specified in the service information described previously, except as discussed under “Difference Between Proposed AD and the Service Information.”

Difference Between Proposed AD and the Service Information

Although the Accomplishment Instructions of the service bulletin describe procedures for submitting certain information to the manufacturer and sending defective actuators back to the component manufacturer for investigation, this AD does not include those requirements.

Interim Action

We consider this proposed AD interim action. If final action is later identified, we may consider further rulemaking then.

Clarification of Inspection Terminology

In this proposed AD, the “inspection” specified in the service bulletin is referred to as a “general visual inspection.” We have included the definition for a general visual inspection in a note in the proposed AD.

Costs of Compliance

This proposed AD would affect about 700 airplanes of U.S. registry. The proposed inspection would take about 1 work hour per airplane, at an average labor rate of $80 per work hour. Based on these figures, the estimated cost of the proposed AD for U.S. operators is $56,000, or $80 per airplane, per inspection cycle.

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.

Regulatory Findings

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

For the reasons discussed above, I certify that the 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. 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 a regulatory evaluation of the estimated costs to comply with this proposed AD and placed it in the AD docket. See the ADDRESSES section for a location to examine the regulatory evaluation.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

End List of Subjects

The Proposed Amendment

Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the FAA proposes to amend 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. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD):

Airbus: Docket No. FAA-2006-26272; Directorate Identifier 2006-NM-153-AD.

Comments Due Date

(a) The FAA must receive comments on this AD action by January 8, 2007.

Affected ADs

(b) None.

Applicability

(c) This AD applies to all Airbus Model A318, A319, A320, and A321 airplanes, certificated in any category. Start Printed Page 71103

Unsafe Condition

(d) This AD results from reports of slow operation of the main landing gear (MLG) door opening/closing sequence due to a defective actuator. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct defective actuators of the MLG door, which could result in slow operation of the MLG door and consequent non-extension of the MLG during an emergency freefall operation.

Compliance

(e) You are responsible for having the actions required by this AD performed within the compliance times specified, unless the actions have already been done.

Repetitive Inspections/Replacement

(f) At the time specified in paragraph (f)(1) or (f)(2) of this AD, as applicable: Do a general visual inspection of the operation of the MLG door opening sequence to determine if a defective actuator is installed by doing all the applicable actions, including replacing the door actuator, as applicable, specified in the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-32-1309, dated March 7, 2006. Do all applicable replacements before further flight. Repeat the inspection thereafter at intervals not to exceed 900 flight cycles.

(1) For airplanes on which a record of the total number of flight cycles on the MLG door actuator is available: Before the accumulation of 3,000 total flight cycles on the MLG door actuator, or within 800 flight cycles after the effective date of this AD, whichever is later.

(2) For airplanes on which a record of the total number of flight cycles on the MLG door actuator is not available: With 800 flight cycles after the effective date of this AD.

Note 1:

For the purposes of this AD, a general visual inspection is: “A visual examination of an interior or exterior area, installation, or assembly to detect obvious damage, failure, or irregularity. This level of inspection is made from within touching distance unless otherwise specified. A mirror may be necessary to enhance visual access to all exposed surfaces in the inspection area. This level of inspection is made under normally available lighting conditions such as daylight, hangar lighting, flashlight, or droplight and may require removal or opening of access panels or doors. Stands, ladders, or platforms may be required to gain proximity to the area being checked.”

(g) Although the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-32-1309, dated March 7, 2006, specifies submitting certain information to the manufacturer and sending defective actuators back to the component manufacturer for investigation; this AD does not include those requirements.

Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

(h)(1) The Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested in accordance with the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19.

(2) Before using any AMOC approved in accordance with § 39.19 on any airplane to which the AMOC applies, notify the appropriate principal inspector in the FAA Flight Standards Certificate Holding District Office.

Related Information

(i) EASA airworthiness directive 2006-0112, dated May 15, 2006, also addresses the subject of this AD.

Start Signature

Issued in Renton, Washington, on November 21, 2006.

Ali Bahrami,

Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Part End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. E6-20852 Filed 12-7-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-13-P