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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Boeing Model 757 Series Airplanes

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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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 certain Boeing Model 757 series airplanes. This proposed AD would require sealing the fasteners on the front and rear spars inside the left and right main fuel tanks and on the lower panel of the center fuel tank. This proposed AD would also require inspections of the wire bundle support installations to verify if certain clamps are installed and if Teflon sleeving covers the wire bundles inside the left and right equipment cooling system bays, on the left and right rear spars, and on the left and right front spars; and corrective actions if necessary. This proposed AD results from a fuel system review conducted by the manufacturer. We are proposing this AD to prevent improperly sealed fasteners in the main and center fuel tanks from becoming an ignition source, in the event of a fault current, which could result in a fuel tank explosion and consequent loss of the airplane.

DATES:

We must receive comments on this proposed AD by January 22, 2008.

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, P.O. Box 3707, Seattle, Washington 98124-2207.

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.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Judy Coyle, Aerospace Engineer, Propulsion Branch, ANM-140S, FAA, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone (425) 917-6497; fax (425) 917-6590.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

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-2007-0289; Directorate Identifier 2007-NM-208-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 Start Printed Page 68765consider 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 proposed 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 has found that it is possible for some fuel tank fasteners, in the event of a fault current, to become an ignition source on Boeing Model 757 series airplanes. 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 757-57A0064, dated July 16, 2007. The service bulletin describes procedures for sealing the fasteners on the front and rear spars inside the left and right main fuel tanks and sealing the fasteners on the lower panel of the center fuel tank. The service bulletin also describes procedures for doing general visual inspections of the wire bundle support installations to verify if certain full cushion clamps are installed and to confirm if the wire bundles are covered in Teflon sleeving at the following locations: Inside the left and right equipment cooling system bays, on the left and right rear spars, and on the left and right front spars. The service bulletin also describes procedures for doing corrective actions if necessary, which include replacing any incorrect clamps with certain full cushion clamps 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, except as discussed under “Difference between the Proposed AD and Service Bulletin.”

Difference Between the Proposed AD and Service Bulletin

The compliance table in paragraph 1.E. of the service bulletin recommends accomplishing the corrective actions (clamp replacement and installation of Teflon sleeving) within 5 years of the date on the service bulletin. This AD, however, would require accomplishing the corrective actions, if necessary, before further flight after accomplishing the inspections. We have coordinated this difference with Boeing.

Costs of Compliance

There are about 1,049 airplanes of the affected design in the worldwide fleet. This proposed AD would affect about 539 airplanes of U.S. registry. The proposed actions would take up to 545 work hours per airplane depending on the airplane configuration, at an average labor rate of $80 per work hour. Required parts would cost about $325 per airplane. Based on these figures, the estimated cost of the proposed AD for U.S. operators is up to $23,675,575, or up to $43,925 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 Start Printed Page 68766under 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-2007-0289; Directorate Identifier 2007-NM-208-AD.

Comments Due Date

(a) The FAA must receive comments on this AD action by January 22, 2008.

Affected ADs

(b) None.

Applicability

(c) This AD applies to Boeing Model 757-200, -200CB, -200PF, and -300 series airplanes, certificated in any category; as identified in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 757-57A0064, dated July 16, 2007.

Unsafe Condition

(d) This AD results from a fuel system review conducted by the manufacturer. We are issuing this AD to prevent improperly sealed fasteners in the main and center fuel tanks from becoming an ignition source, in the event of a fault current, which 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.

Fastener Sealing and Inspections

(f) Within 60 months after the effective date of this AD, seal the applicable fasteners and do the general visual inspections of the wire bundle support installations, and do all the applicable corrective actions before further flight, by accomplishing all of the applicable actions specified in the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 757-57A0064, dated July 16, 2007.

Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

(g)(1) The Manager, Seattle 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.

Start Signature

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

Ali Bahrami,

Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Part End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. E7-23639 Filed 12-5-07; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-13-P