Skip to Content

Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Boeing Model 727 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 Boeing Model 727 airplanes. This proposed AD would require revising the FAA-approved maintenance program by incorporating new airworthiness limitations (AWLs) for fuel tank systems to satisfy Special Federal Aviation Regulation No. 88 requirements. This proposed AD would also require the initial inspection of a certain repetitive AWL inspection to phase in that inspection, and repair if necessary. This proposed AD results from a design review of the fuel tank systems. We are proposing this AD to prevent the potential for ignition sources inside fuel tanks caused by latent failures, alterations, repairs, or maintenance actions, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in a fuel tank explosion and consequent loss of the airplane.

DATES:

We must receive comments on this proposed AD by August 20, 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: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590.
  • Fax: (202) 493-2251.
  • Hand Delivery: Room W12-140 on the ground floor of the West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., 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

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-2007-28382; Directorate Identifier 2006-NM-179-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, Start Printed Page 36902including 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 Operations office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The Docket Operations office (telephone (800) 647-5527) is located on the ground floor of the West 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 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 proposed AD are necessary to reduce the potential of ignition sources inside fuel tanks, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in a fuel tank explosion and consequent loss of the airplane.

Relevant Service Information

We have reviewed the following sections of Boeing 727-100/200 Airworthiness Limitations (AWLs), D6-8766-AWL, original release, dated March 2006 (hereafter referred to as “Document D6-8766-AWL”), for Model 727, 727C, 727-100, 727-100C, 727-200, and 727-200F series airplanes:

  • Section A, “SCOPE”
  • Section B, “FUEL SYSTEMS AIRWORTHINESS LIMITATIONS”
  • Section C, “SYSTEM AWL PAGE FORMAT”
  • Section D, “AIRWORTHINESS LIMITATIONS—FUEL SYSTEMS” Those sections of Document D6-8766-AWL describe new AWLs for fuel tank systems. The new AWLs include:
  • AWL inspections, which are periodic inspections of certain features for latent failures that could contribute to an ignition source; and
  • Critical design configuration control limitations (CDCCLs), which are limitation requirements to preserve a critical ignition source prevention feature of the fuel tank system design that is necessary to prevent the occurrence of an unsafe condition. The purpose of a CDCCL is to provide instruction to retain the critical ignition source prevention feature during configuration change that may be caused by alterations, repairs, or maintenance actions. A CDCCL is not a periodic inspection.

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 the FAA-approved maintenance program by incorporating the information in Sections A, B, C, and D of Document D6-8766-AWL. This proposed AD would also require the initial inspection of a certain repetitive AWL inspection to phase in that inspection, and repair if necessary.

Difference Between Proposed AD and Service Bulletin

In most ADs, we adopt a compliance time allowing a specified amount of time after the AD's effective date. In this case, however, the FAA has already issued regulations that require operators to revise their maintenance/inspection programs to address fuel tank safety issues. The compliance date for these regulations is December 16, 2008. To provide for efficient and coordinated implementation of these regulations and this proposed AD, we are using this same compliance date in this proposed AD, instead of the 18-month compliance time recommended in the service bulletin.

Rework Required When Implementing AWLs Into an Existing Fleet

The maintenance program revision for the fuel tank systems specified in paragraph (g) of this proposed AD, which involves incorporating the information specified in Document D6-8766-AWL, would affect how operators maintain their airplanes. After doing that maintenance program revision, operators would need to do any maintenance on the fuel tank system as specified in the CDCCLs. Maintenance done before the maintenance program revision specified in paragraph (g) would not need to be redone in order to comply with paragraph (g). For example, the AWL that requires fuel pumps to be repaired and overhauled per an FAA-approved component maintenance manual (CMM) applies to fuel pumps repaired after the maintenance programs are revised; spare or on-wing fuel pumps do not need to be reworked. For AWLs that require repetitive inspections, the initial inspection interval (threshold) starts from the date the maintenance program revision specified in paragraph (g) is done, except as provided by paragraph (h) of this proposed AD. This proposed AD would require only the maintenance Start Printed Page 36903program revision specified in paragraph (g), and initial inspections specified in paragraph (h). No other fleet-wide inspections need to be done.

Changes to Fuel Tank System AWLs

Paragraph (g) of this proposed AD would require revising the FAA-approved maintenance program by incorporating certain information specified in Document D6-8766-AWL. Paragraph (g) allows accomplishing the maintenance program revision in accordance with later revisions of the Document D6-8766-AWL as an acceptable method of compliance if they are approved by the Manager, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), FAA. Paragraph (h) allows accomplishing the initial inspection and repair in accordance with later revisions of Document D6-8766-AWL as an acceptable method of compliance if they are approved by the Manager, Seattle ACO. In addition, Section B of Document D6-8766-AWL specifies that any deviations from the published AWL instructions, including AWL intervals, must be approved by the Manager, Seattle ACO. Therefore, after the maintenance program revision, any further revision to an AWL or AWL interval should be done as an AWL change, not as an alternative method of compliance (AMOC). For U.S.-registered airplanes, operators must make requests through an appropriate FAA Principal Maintenance Inspector (PMI) or Principal Avionics Inspector (PAI) for approval by the Manager, Seattle ACO. A non-U.S. operator should coordinate changes with its governing regulatory agency.

Exceptional Short-Term Extensions

Section B of Document D6-8766-AWL has provisions for an exceptional short-term extension of 30 days. An exceptional short-term extension is an increase in an AWL interval that may be needed to cover an uncontrollable or unexpected situation. For U.S.-registered airplanes, the FAA PMI or PAI must concur with any exceptional short-term extension before it is used, unless the operator has identified another appropriate procedure with the local regulatory authority. The FAA PMI or PAI may grant the exceptional short-term extensions described in Section B without consultation with the Manager, Seattle ACO. A non-U.S. operator should coordinate changes with its governing regulatory agency. As explained in Document D6-8766-AWL, exceptional short-term extensions must not be used for fleet AWL extensions. An exceptional short-term extension should not be confused with an operator's short-term escalation authorization approved in accordance with the Operations Specifications or the operator's reliability program.

Ensuring Compliance With Fuel Tank System AWLs

Boeing has revised applicable maintenance manuals and task cards to address AWLs and to include notes about CDCCLs. Operators that do not use Boeing's revision service should revise their maintenance manuals and task cards to highlight actions tied to CDCCLs to ensure that maintenance personnel are complying with the CDCCLs. Appendix 1 of this proposed AD contains a list of Air Transport Association (ATA) sections for the revised maintenance manuals. Operators might wish to use the appendix as an aid to implement the AWLs.

Recording Compliance With Fuel Tank System AWLs

The applicable operating rules of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR parts 91, 121, 125, and 129) require operators to maintain records with the identification of the current inspection status of an airplane. Some of the AWLs contained in Section D of Document D6-8766-AWL are inspections for which the applicable sections of the operating rules apply. Other AWLs are CDCCLs, which are tied to conditional maintenance actions. An entry into an operator's existing maintenance record system for corrective action is sufficient for recording compliance with CDCCLs, as long as the applicable maintenance manual and task cards identify actions that are CDCCLs.

Changes to CMMs Cited in Fuel Tank System AWLs

Some of the AWLs in Section D of Document D6-8766-AWL refer to specific revision levels of the CMMs as additional sources of service information for doing the AWLs. Boeing is referring to the CMMs by revision level in the applicable AWL for certain components rather than including information directly in Document D6-8766-AWL because of the volume of that information. As a result, the Manager, Seattle ACO, must approve the CMMs. Any later revision of those CMMs will be handled like a change to the AWL itself. Any use of parts (including the use of parts manufacturer approval (PMA) approved parts), methods, techniques, and practices not contained in the CMMs need to be approved by the Manager, Seattle ACO, or governing regulatory authority. For example, pump repair/overhaul manuals must be approved by the Manager, Seattle ACO.

Changes to AMMs Referenced in Fuel Tank System AWLs

In other AWLs in Section D of Document D6-8766-AWL, the AWLs contain all the necessary data. The applicable section of the maintenance manual is usually included in the AWLs. Boeing intended this information to assist operators in maintaining the maintenance manuals. A maintenance manual change to these tasks may be made without approval by the Manager, Seattle ACO, through an appropriate FAA PMI or PAI, by the governing regulatory authority, or by using the operator's standard process for revising maintenance manuals. An acceptable change would have to maintain the information specified in the AWL such as the pass/fail criteria or special test equipment.

Costs of Compliance

There are about 530 airplanes of the affected design in the worldwide fleet. The following table provides the estimated costs, at an average labor rate of $80 per hour, for U.S. operators to comply with this proposed AD.

Estimated Costs

ActionWork hoursPartsCost per airplaneNumber of U.S.- registered airplanesFleet cost
Maintenance program revision8None$640272$174,080
Inspection8None640272174,080
Start Printed Page 36904

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):

Boeing: Docket No. FAA-2007-28382; Directorate Identifier 2006-NM-179-AD.

Comments Due Date

(a) The FAA must receive comments on this AD action by August 20, 2007.

Affected ADs

(b) None.

Applicability

(c) This AD applies to all Boeing Model 727, 727C, 727-100, 727-100C, 727-200, and 727-200F series airplanes, certificated in any category.

Note 1:

This AD requires revisions to certain operator maintenance documents to include new inspections and maintenance actions. Compliance with these limitations is required by 14 CFR 43.16 and 91.403(c). For airplanes that have been previously modified, altered, or repaired in the areas addressed by these limitations, the operator may not be able to accomplish the actions described in the revisions. In this situation, to comply with 14 CFR 43.16 and 91.403(c), the operator must request approval for revision to the airworthiness limitations in the Boeing 727-100/200 Airworthiness Limitations (AWLs), D6-8766-AWL, according to paragraph (g) or (i) of this AD, as applicable.

Unsafe Condition

(d) This AD results from a design review of the fuel tank systems. We are issuing this AD to prevent the potential for ignition sources inside fuel tanks caused by latent failures, alterations, repairs, or maintenance actions, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in a fuel tank explosion and consequent loss 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.

Service Information Reference

(f) The term “Document D6-8766-AWL” as used in this AD, means Boeing 727-100/200 Airworthiness Limitations (AWLs), D6-8766-AWL, original release, dated March 2006.

Maintenance Program Revision

(g) Before December 16, 2008, revise the FAA-approved maintenance program to incorporate the information in the sections specified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), (g)(3), and (g)(4) of this AD; except that the initial inspection required by paragraph (h) of this AD must be done at the applicable compliance time specified in that paragraph. Accomplishing the revision in accordance with a later revision of Document D6-8766-AWL is an acceptable method of compliance if the revision is approved by the Manager, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), FAA.

(1) Section A, “SCOPE” of Document D6-8766-AWL.

(2) Section B, “FUEL SYSTEMS AIRWORTHINESS LIMITATIONS,” of Document D6-8766-AWL.

(3) Section C, “SYSTEM AWL PAGE FORMAT,” of Document D6-8766-AWL.

(4) Section D, “AIRWORTHINESS LIMITATIONS—FUEL SYSTEMS,” of Document D6-8766-AWL.

Initial Inspection and Repair if Necessary

(h) At the later of the compliance times specified in paragraphs (h)(1) and (h)(2) of this AD, do a detailed inspection of the wire bundles routed over the center fuel tank for damaged clamps, wire chafing, and wire bundles in contact with the surface of the center fuel tank, in accordance with AWL Number 28-AWL-01 of Section D of Document D6-8766-AWL. If any discrepancy is found during the inspection, repair the discrepancy before further flight in accordance with AWL Number 28-AWL-01 of Section D of Document D6-8766-AWL. Accomplishing the actions required by this paragraph in accordance with a later revision of Document D6-8766-AWL is an acceptable method of compliance if the revision is approved by the Manager, Seattle ACO.

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) Prior to the accumulation of 36,000 total flight hours, or within 120 months since the date of issuance of the original standard airworthiness certification or the date of issuance of the original export certificate of airworthiness, whichever ever occurs first.

(2) Within 72 months after the effective date of this AD.

Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

(i)(1) The Manager, Seattle ACO, 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. Start Printed Page 36905

Appendix 1.—Implementing Fuel Tank System Airworthiness Limitations on Model 727, 727C, 727-100, 727-100C, 727-200, 727-200F Series Airplanes

AWL No.ALI/CDCCLATA section or CMM documentTask title
28-AWL-01ALIAMM 28-11-00/601External Wires Over the Tank No. 2 Inspection.
28-AWL-02CDCCLSWPM 20-10-11Wiring Assembly and Installation Configuration.
28-AWL-03CDCCLSWPM 20-10-11Wiring Assembly and Installation Configuration.
28-AWL-04CDCCLCMM 28-41-01, Revision 12; CMM 28-41-02, Revision 5; CMM 28-41-03, Revision 3; CMM 28-41-06, Revision 8; CMM 28-41-07, Revision 17; CMM 28-41-08, Revision 9; CMM 28-41-09, Revision 8; CMM 28-41-23, Revision 10; or subsequent revisions
28-AWL-05CDCCLCMM 28-40-03, Revision 5; CMM 28-41-06, Revision 8; or subsequent revisions
28-AWL-06CDCCLSWPM 20-14-12Repair of Fuel Quantity Indicator System (FQIS) Wire Harness.
AMM 28-41-21/401Remove/Install Fuel Tank Bulkhead (Spar) Receptacle Wire Harness.
28-AWL-07CDCCLAMM 29-11-53/401Install System A Hydraulic Fluid Heat Exchanger.
AMM 29-12-61/401Install System B Hydraulic Fluid Heat Exchanger.
28-AWL-08CDCCL
28-AWL-09CDCCLCMM 28-20-1, Revision 7; CMM 28-20-5, Revision 6; CMM 28-20-06, Revision 6; or subsequent revisions
28-AWL-10CDCCLAMM 28-22-21/401Install Fuel Boost Pump.
28-AWL-11CDCCLAMM 28-21-93/401Remove the Auxiliary Tank Fueling Float Switch.
AMM 28-21-93/401Install the Auxiliary Tank Fueling Float Switch.
28-AWL-12CDCCLAMM 28-11-21/401Removal/Installation Cast Fuel Tank Access Panels.
28-AWL-13CDCCLAMM 28-11-21/401Removal/Installation Machined Fuel Tank Access Panels.
AMM 28-13-11/401Install the Relief Valve.
28-AWL-14CDCCLAMM 28-22-21/601Fuel Boost Pump—Inspection/Check.
28-AWL-15CDCCLAMM 28-22-00/101Engine Fuel Feed System—Trouble Shooting.
Start Signature

Issued in Renton, Washington, on June 22, 2007.

Ali Bahrami,

Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Part End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. E7-13115 Filed 7-5-07; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-13-P