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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; McDonnell Douglas Model MD-90-30 Airplanes

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

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

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ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

SUMMARY:

The FAA proposes to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain McDonnell Douglas Model MD-90-30 airplanes. This proposed AD would require replacement of the wire harness of the auxiliary hydraulic pump with a new wire harness, and routing the new wire harness outside of the tire burst area. This proposed AD results from fuel system reviews conducted by the manufacturer, as well as reports of shorted wires in the right wheel well and evidence of arcing on the power cables of the auxiliary hydraulic pump. We are proposing this AD to prevent shorted wires or electrical arcing at the auxiliary hydraulic pump, which could result in a fire in the wheel well. We are also proposing this AD to reduce the potential of an ignition source adjacent to the fuel tanks, 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 December 7, 2007.

ADDRESSES:

You may send comments by any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • Fax: 202-493-2251.
  • 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.
  • Hand Delivery: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

For service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Long Beach Division, 3855 Lakewood Boulevard, Long Beach, California 90846, Attention: Data and Service Management, Dept. C1-L5A (D800-0024).

Examining the AD Docket

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov;​ or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Office (telephone 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Cheyenne Del Carmen, Aerospace Engineer, Cabin Safety/Mechanical and Environmental Systems Branch, ANM-150L, FAA, Los Angeles Aircraft Certification Office, 3960 Paramount Boulevard, Lakewood, California 90712-4137; telephone (562) 627-5338; fax (562) 627-5210.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Comments Invited

We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposed AD. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2007-0074; Directorate Identifier 2007-NM-151-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD because of those comments.

We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact we receive about this proposed AD.

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” (66 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 a 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.

We have received three reports indicating that operators found shorted wires in the right wheel well and evidence of arcing on the power cables of the auxiliary hydraulic pump, on three McDonnell Douglas Model DC-9-82 (MD-82) airplanes. One incident resulted in a fire in the wheel well. Investigation revealed that damage to the power cables was caused by structural chafing. In addition, SFAR 88 analysis determined that extra protection is required on the wire harness of the auxiliary hydraulic pump where it comes in close proximity to the center fuel tank; Model MD-90-30 airplanes have a similar installation. Boeing analysis also determined that the existing wire harness of the auxiliary hydraulic pump for Model MD-90-30 airplanes is routed within the “tire burst” area. Installing a new and longer wire harness for the auxiliary hydraulic pump and routing it outside of the tire burst area will minimize the possibility of chafing and wire arcing damage. Shorted wires or electrical arcing at the auxiliary hydraulic pump, if not corrected, could result in a fire in the wheel well. A potential ignition source adjacent to the fuel tanks, if not corrected, in combination with flammable fuel vapors could result in a Start Printed Page 59971fuel tank explosion and consequent loss of the airplane.

The installation of the auxiliary hydraulic pump wire harness on Model DC-9-82 (MD-82) airplanes is similar to that on the affected Model MD-90-30 airplanes. Therefore, all of these models are subject to the same unsafe condition.

Relevant Service Information

We have reviewed Boeing Alert Service Bulletin MD90-29A021, dated May 15, 2007. The service bulletin describes procedures for replacing the wire harness of the auxiliary hydraulic pump with a new wire harness, and routing the new wire harness outside of the tire burst area. 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.

Costs of Compliance

There are about 110 airplanes of the affected design in the worldwide fleet. This proposed AD would affect about 16 airplanes of U.S. registry. The proposed actions would take about 7 work hours per airplane, at an average labor rate of $80 per work hour. Required parts would cost about $3,997 per airplane. Based on these figures, the estimated cost of the proposed AD for U.S. operators is $72,912, or $4,557 per airplane.

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.

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List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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The Proposed Amendment

Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the FAA proposes to amend 14 CFR part 39 as follows:

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PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES

1. The authority citation for part 39 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701.

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[Amended]

2. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD):

McDonnell Douglas: Docket No. FAA-2007-0074; Directorate Identifier 2007-NM-151-AD.

Comments Due Date

(a) The FAA must receive comments on this AD action by December 7, 2007.

Affected ADs

(b) None.

Applicability

(c) This AD applies to McDonnell Douglas Model MD-90-30 airplanes, certificated in any category; as identified in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin MD90-29A021, dated May 15, 2007.

Unsafe Condition

(d) This AD results from fuel system reviews conducted by the manufacturer, as well as reports of shorted wires in the right wheel well and evidence of arcing on the power cables of the auxiliary hydraulic pump. We are issuing this AD to prevent shorted wires or electrical arcing at the auxiliary hydraulic pump, which could result in a fire in the wheel well. We are also issuing this AD to reduce the potential of an ignition source adjacent to the fuel tanks, 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.

Replacement

(f) Within 18 months after the effective date of this AD, replace the wire harness of the auxiliary hydraulic pump with a new wire harness and route the new wire harness outside of the tire burst area, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin MD90-29A021, dated May 15, 2007.

Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

(g)(1) The Manager, Los Angeles Aircraft Certification Office, 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.

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Issued in Renton, Washington, on October 12, 2007.

Stephen P. Boyd,

Assistant Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

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[FR Doc. E7-20823 Filed 10-22-07; 8:45 am]

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