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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

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION:

Supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM); reopening of comment period.

SUMMARY:

The FAA is revising an earlier NPRM for an airworthiness directive (AD) that applies to certain Airbus Model A318, A319, A320, and A321 airplanes. The original NPRM would have superseded an existing AD that currently requires repetitive detailed inspections of the inboard flap trunnions for any wear marks and of the sliding panels for any cracking at the long edges, and corrective actions if necessary. The original NPRM proposed to add airplanes to the applicability in the existing AD and change the inspection type. The original NPRM resulted from a determination that certain airplanes must be included in the applicability of the AD, and that the inspection type must be revised. This new action revises the original NPRM by including airplanes that were inadvertently excluded from the applicability. We are proposing this supplemental NPRM to detect and correct wear of the inboard flap trunnions, which could lead to loss of flap surface control and consequently result in the flap detaching from the airplane. A detached flap could result in damage to the tail of the airplane.

DATES:

We must receive comments on this supplemental NPRM by April 2, 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. Start Printed Page 9881
  • 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 supplemental NPRM.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Dan Rodina, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone (425) 227-2125; 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 proposal. Send your comments to an address listed in the ADDRESSES section. Include the docket number “Docket No. FAA-2006-25658; Directorate Identifier 2006-NM-054-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this supplemental NPRM. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this supplemental NPRM in light of those comments.

We will post all comments submitted, 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 supplemental NPRM. 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 ADDRESSES. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after the Docket Management System receives them.

Discussion

The FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) (the “original NPRM”) to amend 14 CFR part 39 to include an AD that supersedes AD 2006-04-06, amendment 39-14487 (71 FR 8439, February 17, 2006). The original NPRM applies to certain Airbus Model A318, A319, A320, and A321-100 airplanes. The original NPRM was published in the Federal Register on August 22, 2006 (71 FR 48838). The original NPRM proposed to continue to require repetitive detailed inspections of the inboard flap trunnions for any wear marks and of the sliding panels for any cracking at the long edges, and corrective actions if necessary. The original NPRM also proposed to add airplanes to the applicability in the existing AD and change the inspection type.

Actions Since Original NPRM Was Issued

We have determined that the original NPRM should have applied to certain Airbus Model A318 airplanes, and all Airbus Model A319, A320, and A321-111, -112, and -131 airplanes. In the original NPRM, we stated that we were adding Model A321-211 and -231 airplanes; however, the applicability was inadvertently changed to Model A318, A319, A320, and A321 airplanes on which Airbus Modification 26495 has been incorporated in production. The change resulted in the airplanes identified in paragraph (f) of the original NPRM (Model A319-111, -112, -113, -114, -115, -131, -132, and -133 airplanes; Model A320-111 airplanes; Model A320-211, -212, -214, -231, -232, and -233 airplanes; and Model A321-111, -112, and -131 airplanes; except those on which Airbus Modification 26495 has been accomplished in production) being excluded from the applicability of the original NPRM. We have changed the applicability in this supplemental NPRM to certain Airbus Model A318 airplanes, and “all” Airbus Model A319-111, -112, -113, -114, -115, -131, -132, and -133 airplanes; Model A320-111 airplanes; Model A320-211, -212, -214, -231, -232, and -233 airplanes; and Model A321-111, -112, -131, -211, and -231 airplanes.

Relevant Service Information

Airbus has issued Service Bulletins A320-27-1117, Revision 03, dated August 24, 2001; and Revision 04, dated November 6, 2001. (Airbus Service Bulletin A320-27-1117, Revision 02, dated January 18, 2000, was referenced in the original NPRM as the appropriate source of service information for accomplishing the modification.) Airbus has also issued Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1133, Revision 01, dated August 7, 2006. (Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1133, dated July 28, 2005, was referenced in the original NPRM as the appropriate source of service information for accomplishing the inspections.) The changes in these revisions are minor and no additional work is necessary for airplanes modified by the previous issues. We have changed the AD to refer to this revised service information as the appropriate source of service information for accomplishing the required actions. In addition, we have added new paragraphs (k) and (l) to this AD to provide credit for accomplishing the actions before the effective date of this AD in accordance with the service information referenced in the original NPRM. Subsequent paragraphs have been re-identified accordingly. Accomplishing the actions specified in the service information is intended to adequately address the unsafe condition.

Comments

We have considered the following comments on the original NPRM.

Support for the NPRM

Airbus supports the original NPRM.

Request To Incorporate/Publish Certain Information

The Modification and Replacement Parts Association (MARPA) states that, frequently, airworthiness directives are based on service information originating with the type certificate holder or its suppliers. MARPA adds that manufacturer service documents are privately authored instruments generally having copyright protection against duplication and distribution. MARPA notes that when a service document is incorporated by reference into a public document, such as an airworthiness directive, it loses its private, protected status and becomes a public document. MARPA adds that if a service document is used as a mandatory element of compliance, it should not simply be referenced, but should be incorporated into the regulatory document; by definition, public laws must be public, which Start Printed Page 9882means they cannot rely upon private writings. MARPA notes that since the interpretation of a document is a question of law, and not fact, a service document not incorporated by reference will not be considered in a legal finding of the meaning of an airworthiness directive. MARPA is concerned that the failure to incorporate essential service information could result in a court decision invalidating the airworthiness directive.

MARPA adds that incorporated by reference service documents should be made available to the public by publication in the Docket Management System (DMS), keyed to the action that incorporates them. MARPA notes that the stated purpose of the incorporation by reference method is brevity, to keep from expanding the Federal Register needlessly by publishing documents already in the hands of the affected individuals; traditionally, “affected individuals” means aircraft owners and operators, who are generally provided service information by the manufacturer. MARPA adds that a new class of affected individuals has emerged, since the majority of aircraft maintenance is now performed by specialty shops instead of aircraft owners and operators. MARPA notes that this new class includes maintenance and repair organizations, component servicing and repair shops, parts purveyors and distributors, and organizations manufacturing or servicing alternatively certified parts under section 21.303 (“Replacement and modification parts”) of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR 21.303). MARPA adds that the distribution to owners may, when the owner is a financing or leasing institution, not actually reach the persons responsible for accomplishing the airworthiness directive. Therefore, MARPA asks that the service documents deemed essential to the accomplishment of the NPRM be incorporated by reference into the regulatory instrument, and published in the DMS.

We do not agree that documents should be incorporated by reference during the NPRM phase of rulemaking. The Office of the Federal Register (OFR) requires that documents that are necessary to accomplish the requirements of the AD be incorporated by reference during the final rule phase of rulemaking. We intend that the final rule in this action will incorporate by reference the documents necessary for the accomplishment of the proposed requirements mandated by this AD. Further, we point out that while documents that are incorporated by reference do become public information, they do not lose their copyright protection. For that reason, we advise the public to contact the manufacturer to obtain copies of the referenced service information.

Additionally, we do not publish service documents in DMS. We are currently reviewing our practice of publishing proprietary service information. Once we have thoroughly examined all aspects of this issue, and have made a final determination, we will consider whether our current practice needs to be revised. However, we consider that to delay this AD action for that reason would be inappropriate, since we have determined that an unsafe condition exists and that the requirements in this AD must be accomplished to ensure continued safety. Therefore, we have not changed the supplemental NPRM in this regard.

Clarification of Compliance Times and Applicability of Paragraphs (g) and (j)(2) of This Supplemental NPRM

We have changed paragraphs (g) and (j)(2) of this supplemental NPRM (paragraph (i)(2) of the original NPRM) to specify the “applicable” compliance times in the subparagraphs. Paragraphs (g)(2) and (j)(2)(ii) of this supplemental NPRM are applicable only to airplanes that have not had Airbus Modification 26495 done in production.

Revised Applicability in Paragraph (g) of This Supplemental NPRM

We have changed the applicability in paragraph (g) of this supplemental NPRM for clarity and we have added Model A320-111 airplanes, which were inadvertently excluded from that paragraph in the original NPRM. Paragraph (g) is applicable to all airplanes identified in the existing AD, and Model A320-111 airplanes are included in that applicability.

FAA's Determination and Proposed Requirements of the Supplemental NPRM

The changes discussed above expand the scope of the original NPRM; therefore, we have determined that it is necessary to reopen the comment period to provide additional opportunity for public comment on this supplemental NPRM.

Costs of Compliance

The following table provides the estimated costs for U.S. operators to comply with this supplemental NPRM.

Estimated Costs

ActionWork hoursAverage labor rate per hourPartsCost per airplaneNumber of U.S.-registered airplanesFleet cost
Modification in AD 2006-04-0614$80The manufacturer states that it will supply required parts to operators at no cost$1,120755$845,600.
Detailed inspection in AD 2006-04-06280None$160, per inspection cycle755$120,800, per inspection cycle.
General visual inspection (new action)180None$80, per inspection cycle741$59,280, 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 Start Printed Page 9883safety 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 supplemental NPRM 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 removing amendment 39-14487 (71 FR 8439, February 17, 2006) and adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD):

Airbus: Docket No.: FAA-2006-25658; Directorate Identifier 2006-NM-054-AD.

Comments Due Date

(a) The FAA must receive comments on this AD action by April 2, 2007.

Affected ADs

(b) This AD supersedes AD 2006-04-06.

Applicability

(c) This AD applies to the airplanes identified in paragraphs (c)(1) and (c)(2) of this AD, certificated in any category.

(1) Airbus Model A318-111 and -112 airplanes on which Airbus Modification 26495 has been incorporated in production.

(2) All Airbus Model A319-111, -112, -113, -114, -115, -131, -132, and -133 airplanes; Model A320-111 airplanes; Model A320-211, -212, -214, -231, -232, and -233 airplanes; and Model A321-111, -112, -131, -211, and -231 airplanes.

Unsafe Condition

(d) This AD results from a determination that certain airplanes must be included in the applicability of the AD, and that the inspection type must be revised. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct wear of the inboard flap trunnions, which could lead to loss of flap surface control and consequently result in the flap detaching from the airplane. A detached flap could result in damage to the tail of the airplane.

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.

Restatement of Requirements of AD 2006-04-06

Modification

(f) For Model A319-111, -112, -113, -114, -115, -131, -132, and -133 airplanes; Model A320-111 airplanes; Model A320-211, -212, -214, -231, -232, and -233 airplanes; and Model A321-111, -112, and -131 airplanes; except those on which Airbus Modification 26495 has been accomplished in production: Within 18 months after January 8, 2001 (the effective date of AD 2000-24-02, amendment 39-12009), modify the sliding panel driving mechanism of the flap drive trunnions, in accordance with Airbus Service Bulletin A320-27-1117, Revision 02, dated January 18, 2000; or Revision 04, dated November 6, 2001. As of the effective date of this AD, only Revision 04 may be used.

Note 1:

Accomplishment of the modification required by paragraph (f) of this AD before January 8, 2001, in accordance with Airbus Service Bulletin A320-27-1117, dated July 31, 1997; or Revision 01, dated June 25, 1999; is acceptable for compliance with that paragraph.

Detailed Inspections

(g) For Model A318-111 and -112 airplanes; Model A319-111, -112, -113, -114, -115, -131, -132, and -133 airplanes; Model A320-111 airplanes; Model A320-211, -212, -214, -231, -232, and -233 airplanes; and Model A321-111, -112, and -131 airplanes: At the latest of the applicable times specified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), and (g)(3) of this AD, do a detailed inspection of the inboard flap trunnions for any wear marks and of the sliding panels for any cracking at the long edges, and do any corrective actions, as applicable, by accomplishing all of the applicable actions specified in the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1133, dated July 28, 2005; or Revision 01, dated August 7, 2006; except as provided by paragraph (p) of this AD. As of the effective date of this AD, only Revision 01 may be used. Any corrective actions must be done at the compliance times specified in Figures 5 and 6, as applicable, of the service bulletin; except as provided by paragraphs (m), (n), and (o) of this AD. Repeat the inspection thereafter at intervals not to exceed 4,000 flight hours until the inspection required by paragraph (j) of this AD is done.

Note 2:

For the purposes of this AD, a detailed inspection is: “An intensive examination of a specific item, installation, or assembly to detect damage, failure, or irregularity. Available lighting is normally supplemented with a direct source of good lighting at an intensity deemed appropriate. Inspection aids such as mirror, magnifying lenses, etc., may be necessary. Surface cleaning and elaborate procedures may be required.”

(1) Before accumulating 4,000 total flight hours on the inboard flap trunnion since new.

(2) Within 4,000 flight hours after accomplishing paragraph (f) of this AD.

(3) Within 600 flight hours after March 24, 2006 (the effective date of AD 2006-04-06).

New Requirements of This AD

Modification

(h) For Model A321-211 and -231 airplanes, except those on which Airbus Modification 26495 has been accomplished in production: Within 18 months after the effective date of this AD, modify the sliding panel driving mechanism of the flap drive trunnions, in accordance with Airbus Service Bulletin A320-27-1117, Revision 04, dated November 6, 2001.

(i) Accomplishing the modification specified in paragraph (h) of this AD is acceptable for compliance with the requirements of that paragraph if done before the effective date of this AD in accordance with the applicable service bulletin identified in Table 1 of this AD.

Table 1.—Airbus Service Bulletins

Service BulletinRevision levelDate
A320-27-1117OriginalJuly 31, 1997.
A320-27-1117Revision 01June 25, 1999.
A320-27-1117Revision 02January 18, 2000.
Start Printed Page 9884
A320-27-1117Revision 03August 24, 2001.

General Visual Inspections

(j) For all airplanes: At the time specified in paragraph (j)(1) or (j)(2) of this AD, as applicable, do a general visual inspection of the inboard flap trunnions for any wear marks and of the sliding panels for any cracking at the long edges, and do all applicable corrective actions, by accomplishing all of the applicable actions specified in the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1133, Revision 01, dated August 7, 2006; except as provided by paragraph (p) of this AD. All corrective actions must be done at the compliance times specified in Figures 5 and 6, as applicable, of the service bulletin; except as provided by paragraphs (m), (n), and (o) of this AD. Repeat the inspection thereafter at intervals not to exceed 4,000 flight hours. Accomplishment of the general visual inspection required by this paragraph terminates the detailed inspection requirement of paragraph (g) of this AD.

Note 3:

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 ensure visual access to all 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.”

(1) For airplanes on which the detailed inspection required by paragraph (g) of this AD has been done before the effective date of this AD: Inspect before accumulating 4,000 total flight hours on the inboard flap trunnion since new, or within 4,000 flight hours after accomplishing the most recent inspection required by paragraph (g) of this AD, whichever occurs later.

(2) For airplanes other than those identified in paragraph (j)(1) of this AD: Inspect at the latest of the applicable times specified in paragraphs (j)(2)(i), (j)(2)(ii), and (j)(2)(iii) of this AD.

(i) Before accumulating 4,000 total flight hours on the inboard flap trunnion since new.

(ii) Within 4,000 flight hours after accomplishing paragraph (f) or (h) of this AD.

(iii) Within 600 flight hours after the effective date of this AD.

Actions Accomplished According to Previous Issue of Service Bulletins

(k) Accomplishment of the modification required by paragraph (f) of this AD before the effective date of this AD, in accordance with Airbus Service Bulletin A320-27-1117, Revision 03, dated August 24, 2001, is acceptable for compliance with the requirements of that paragraph.

(l) Accomplishment of the inspections required by paragraph (j) of this AD before the effective date of this AD, in accordance with Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1133, dated July 28, 2005, is acceptable for compliance with the requirements of that paragraph.

Compliance Times

(m) Where Airbus Service Bulletins A320-57-1133, dated July 28, 2005; and Revision 01, dated August 7, 2006; specify replacing the sliding panel at the next opportunity if damaged, replace it within 600 flight hours after the inspection required by paragraph (g) or (j) of this AD, as applicable.

(n) If any damage to the trunnion is found during any inspection required by paragraph (g) or (j) of this AD, before further flight, do the corrective actions specified in Airbus Service Bulletin A320-57-1133, dated July 28, 2005; or Revision 01, dated August 7, 2006. As of the effective date of this AD, only Revision 01 may be used.

Grace Period Assessment

(o) Where Airbus Service Bulletins A320-57-1133, dated July 28, 2005; and Revision 01, dated August 7, 2006; specify contacting the manufacturer for a grace period assessment after replacing the trunnion or flap, contact the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; the Direction Ge´ne´rale de l'Aviation Civile; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (or its delegated agent); for the grace period assessment.

No Reporting Requirement

(p) Although Airbus Service Bulletins A320-57-1133, dated July 28, 2005; and Revision 01, dated August 7, 2006; specify to submit certain information to the manufacturer, this AD does not include that requirement.

Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

(q)(1) The Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, 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 14 CFR 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

(r) French airworthiness directive F-2005-139, dated August 3, 2005, also addresses the subject of this AD.

Start Signature

Issued in Renton, Washington, on February 23, 2007.

Ali Bahrami,

Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature
End Part End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. E7-3841 Filed 3-5-07; 8:45 am]

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