Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Transportation (DOT).
Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).
The FAA proposes to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Boeing Model 737-600, -700, -700C, -800 and -900 series airplanes. This proposed AD would require sealing the fasteners on the front and rear spar inside the main fuel tank and on the lower panel of the center fuel tank, inspecting the wire bundle support installation in the equipment cooling system bays to identify the type of clamp installed and determine whether the Teflon sleeve is installed, and doing related corrective actions if necessary. This proposed AD results from a design review of the fuel tank systems. We are proposing this AD to prevent arcing at certain fuel tank fasteners, in the event of a lightning strike or fault current event, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in a fuel tank explosion and consequent loss of the airplane.
We must receive comments on this proposed AD by July 20, 2007.Start Printed Page 30997
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 Boeing Commercial Airplanes, P.O. Box 3707, Seattle, Washington 98124-2207, for the service information identified in this proposed AD.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Kathrine Rask, Aerospace Engineer, Propulsion Branch, ANM-140S, FAA, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone (425) 917-6505; fax (425) 917-6590.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
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-2007-28348; Directorate Identifier 2007-NM-060-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 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.
The FAA has examined the underlying safety issues involved in fuel tank explosions on several large transport airplanes, including the adequacy of existing regulations, the service history of airplanes subject to those regulations, and existing maintenance practices for fuel tank systems. As a result of those findings, we issued a regulation titled “Transport Airplane Fuel Tank System Design Review, Flammability Reduction and Maintenance and Inspection Requirements” (67 FR 23086, May 7, 2001). In addition to new airworthiness standards for transport airplanes and new maintenance requirements, this rule included Special Federal Aviation Regulation No. 88 (“SFAR 88,” Amendment 21-78, and subsequent Amendments 21-82 and 21-83).
Among other actions, SFAR 88 requires certain type design (i.e., type certificate (TC) and supplemental type certificate (STC)) holders to substantiate that their fuel tank systems can prevent ignition sources in the fuel tanks. This requirement applies to type design holders for large turbine-powered transport airplanes and for subsequent modifications to those airplanes. It requires them to perform design reviews and to develop design changes and maintenance procedures if their designs do not meet the new fuel tank safety standards. As explained in the preamble to the rule, we intended to adopt airworthiness directives to mandate any changes found necessary to address unsafe conditions identified as a result of these reviews.
In evaluating these design reviews, we have established four criteria intended to define the unsafe conditions associated with fuel tank systems that require corrective actions. The percentage of operating time during which fuel tanks are exposed to flammable conditions is one of these criteria. The other three criteria address the failure types under evaluation: single failures, single failures in combination with another latent condition(s), and in-service failure experience. For all four criteria, the evaluations included consideration of previous actions taken that may mitigate the need for further action.
We have determined that the actions identified in this AD are necessary to reduce the potential of ignition sources inside fuel tanks, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in fuel tank explosions and consequent loss of the airplane.
Boeing determined during the SFAR 88 review that certain non-conductive fasteners, which penetrate the main and center fuel tanks, could be subject to lightning strikes or fault currents induced by short circuits. During a lightning strike or fault current event, electrical current may be conducted to those non-conductive fasteners, which if unsealed could create arcing inside the fuel tanks. This condition, if not corrected, could result in a fuel tank explosion and consequent loss of the airplane.
Relevant Service Information
We have reviewed Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1279, dated January 24, 2007. The service bulletin describes procedures for the following actions (depending on airplane configuration):
- Sealing the fasteners on the front and rear spar inside the main fuel tank and on the lower panel of the center fuel tank;
- Inspecting the wire bundle support installation in the equipment cooling system bays to identify the type of clamp installed and determine whether the Teflon sleeve is installed;
- Replacing any incorrect clamp with a new correct clamp; and
- Installing any missing Teflon sleeving.
Accomplishing the actions specified in the service information is intended to adequately address the unsafe condition.
FAA's Determination and Requirements of the Proposed AD
We have evaluated all pertinent information and identified an unsafe condition that is likely to exist or develop on other airplanes of this same type design. For this reason, we are proposing this AD, which would require accomplishing the actions specified in the service information described previously. Start Printed Page 30998
Costs of Compliance
There are about 1,754 airplanes of the affected design in the worldwide fleet; of these, 645 airplanes are U.S. registered. The following table provides the estimated costs for U.S. operators to comply with this proposed AD, at an average hourly labor rate of $80.
|Action||Group||Work hours||Average hourly labor rate||Cost per airplane||Number of U.S.- registered airplanes||Fleet cost|
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.
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 39End 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:
2. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD):
Boeing: Docket No. FAA-2007-28348; Directorate Identifier 2007-NM-060-AD.
Comments Due Date
(a) The FAA must receive comments on this AD action by July 20, 2007.
(c) This AD applies to Model 737-600, -700, -700C, -800 and -900 series airplanes, certificated in any category; as identified in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1279, dated January 24, 2007.
(d) This AD results from a design review of the fuel tank systems. We are issuing this AD to prevent arcing at certain fuel tank fasteners, in the event of a lightning strike or fault current event, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in fuel tank explosions and consequent loss of the airplane.
(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.
(f) Within 60 months after the effective date of this AD: Seal the fasteners on the front and rear spar inside the main fuel tank and on the lower panel of the center fuel tank, as applicable, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1279, dated January 24, 2007.
(g) Within 60 months after the effective date of this AD: Perform a general visual inspection of the wire bundle support installation in the equipment cooling system bays to identify the type of clamp installed, and determine whether the Teflon sleeve is installed. Do these actions in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1279, dated January 24, 2007. Do all applicable corrective actions within 60 months after the effective date of this AD in accordance with the service bulletin.
Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)
(h)(1) The Manager, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested in accordance with the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19.
(2) To request a different method of compliance or a different compliance time for this AD, follow the procedures in 14 CFR 39.19. Before using any approved AMOC on any airplane to which the AMOC applies, notify your appropriate principal inspector (PI) in the FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), or lacking a PI, your local FSDO.
Issued in Renton, Washington, on May 25, 2007.
Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. E7-10755 Filed 6-4-07; 8:45 am]
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