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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Boeing Model 727-200 Series Airplanes Equipped With an Auxiliary Fuel Tank System Installed in Accordance With Supplemental Type Certificate SA1350NM

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 727-200 series airplanes. This proposed AD would require deactivation of auxiliary fuel tank systems installed in accordance with Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) SA1350NM. This proposed AD results from fuel tank system reviews conducted by the manufacturer that identified potential unsafe conditions for which the manufacturer has not provided corrective actions. We are proposing this AD to prevent 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.

DATES:

We must receive comments on this proposed AD by February 28, 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.

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:

Jeff Janusz, Aerospace Engineer, Systems and Propulsion Branch, ACE-116W, FAA, Wichita Aircraft Certification Office, 1801 Airport Road, Room 100, Mid-Continent Airport, Wichita, Kansas 67209; telephone (316) 946-4148; fax (316) 946-4107.

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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-2008-0013; Directorate Identifier 2007-NM-230-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” (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) design approval) holders to substantiate that their fuel tank systems can prevent ignition sources in the fuel tanks. This requirement applies to design approval 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. Start Printed Page 2205

Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) SA1350NM for DTAA, Inc., Auxiliary Fuel Tank System

The auxiliary fuel tank system STC consists of two fuel tank systems, a forward tank system consisting of 5 cells and an aft tank system consisting of 3 cells. Each cell or individual tank is of a double wall cylindrical design. All auxiliary fuel tank system tanks are emptied and vented into the airplane center wing tank using bleed air pressure supplied from the No. 1 (left hand) engine. All auxiliary fuel tank system tanks use some type of electrical fuel quantity indication system (FQIS), flight deck control and annunciation panels, bleed air pressure regulators, vents, bleed air, and transfer valves, pressure switches, float level switches, and associated electrical wiring connections and electrical bonding methods.

FAA's Findings

During the SFAR 88 safety assessment, it was determined that the auxiliary fuel tank system FQIS requires wire separation or other means to preclude any adjacent high power wires from shorting or inducing high electrical energy levels into the auxiliary fuel tank system or airplane fuel tank system. Additionally, the auxiliary fuel tank system fuel transfer valves were not previously tested or shown to be intrinsically safe from producing electrical arcing or explosion hazards while in the presence of fuel vapors; therefore, re-certification or relocation of these valves are mandated. Finally, STC SA1350NM has been categorized by the FAA as being a high flammability exposure installation, based on the internal fuselage location of the auxiliary fuel tank system. A means to insure low flammability exposure or to mitigate the effects of high flammability exposure time is mandated.

DTAA, Inc., has not provided the service information required under SFAR 88 that would correct these conditions; therefore, we must mandate the deactivation of all DTAA, Inc., auxiliary fuel tank systems installed in accordance with STC SA1350NM.

If operators do not wish to deactivate their auxiliary fuel tanks, we will consider requests for alternative methods of compliance (AMOCs).

Once an operator has deactivated the tank as required by this AD, the operator might wish to remove the tank. This would require a separate design approval, if an approved tank removal procedure does not exist.

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 products of this same type design. For this reason, we are proposing this AD, which would require deactivation to prevent usage of the auxiliary fuel tank system installed in accordance with STC SA1350NM.

Explanation of Compliance Time

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 coordinated implementation of these regulations and this proposed AD, we are using this same compliance date in this proposed AD.

Costs of Compliance

The following table provides the estimated costs for the 25 U.S.-registered airplanes to comply with this proposed AD. Based on these figures, the estimated costs for U.S. operators could be as high as $162,000 to prepare and report the deactivation procedures, and $90,000 to deactivate the tank.

Estimated Costs

ActionWork hoursAverage labor rate per hourPartsIndividual cost
Report1$80None$80
Preparation of tank deactivation procedure8080None6,400
Physical tank deactivation30801,2003,600

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):

DTAA, Inc.: Docket No. FAA-2008-0013; Directorate Identifier 2007-NM-230-AD.

Comments Due Date

(a) The FAA must receive comments on this AD action by February 28, 2008.

Affected ADs

(b) None.

Applicability

(c) This AD applies to Boeing Model 727-200 series airplanes, certificated in any category and equipped with an auxiliary fuel tank system installed in accordance with Supplemental Type Certificate SA1350NM.

Unsafe Condition

(d) This AD results from fuel tank system reviews conducted by the manufacturer. We are issuing this AD to prevent 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.

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.

Report

(f) Within 45 days after the effective date of this AD, submit a report to the Manager, Wichita Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), FAA. The report must include the information listed in paragraphs (f)(1) and (f)(2) of this AD. Under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq.), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved the information collection requirements contained in this AD, and assigned OMB Control Number 2120-0056.

(1) The airplane registration and serial number.

(2) The usage frequency in terms of total number of flights per year and total number of flights per year for which the auxiliary fuel tank system is used.

Prevent Usage of Auxiliary Fuel Tank

(g) On or before December 16, 2008, deactivate the auxiliary fuel tank system, in accordance with a deactivation procedure approved by the Manager of the Wichita ACO. Any auxiliary fuel tank system component that remains on the airplane must be secured and must have no effect on the continued operational safety and airworthiness of the airplane. Deactivation may not result in the need for additional Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA).

Note 1:

Appendix A of this AD provides criteria that must be included in the deactivation procedure. The proposed deactivation procedures should be submitted to the Wichita ACO as soon as possible to ensure timely review and approval, prior to implementation.

Note 2:

For technical information, contact Steve Forness, DTAA, Inc., 101 Deer Meadow Court, St. Charles, Missouri 63304, (636) 928-9606, fax (314) 749-7513.

Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

(h)(1) The Manager, Wichita 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.

Appendix A—Deactivation Criteria

The auxiliary fuel tank system deactivation procedure required by paragraph (g) of this AD should address the following actions.

(1) Permanently drain the auxiliary fuel tank system tanks, and clear them of fuel vapors to eliminate the possibility of out-gassing of fuel vapors from the emptied auxiliary tank.

(2) Disconnect all auxiliary fuel tank system electrical connections from the fuel quantity indication system (FQIS), float, pressure and transfer valves and switches, and all other electrical connections required for auxiliary fuel tank system operation, and stow them at the auxiliary fuel tank interface.

(3) Disconnect all auxiliary fuel tank system bleed-air connections, cap them at the bleed air source, and secure them.

(4) Disconnect all auxiliary fuel tank system fuel supply and fuel vent plumbing interfaces with airplane original equipment manufacturer (OEM) fuel tanks, cap them at the airplane tank side, and secure them. All disconnected auxiliary fuel tank system vent systems must not alter the OEM fuel tank vent system configuration or performance. All empty auxiliary fuel tank system tanks must be vented to eliminate the possibility of structural deformation during cabin decompression. The configuration must not permit the introduction of fuel vapor into any compartments of the airplane.

(5) Pull and collar all circuit breakers used to operate the auxiliary fuel tank system.

(6) Revise the weight and balance document, if required, and obtain FAA approval.

(7) Amend the applicable sections of the applicable Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) to indicate that the auxiliary fuel tank system is deactivated. Remove auxiliary fuel tank system operating procedures to ensure that only the OEM fuel system operational procedures are contained in the AFM. Amend the Limitations Section of the AFM to indicate that the AFM Supplement for the STC is not in effect. Place a placard in the flight deck indicating that the auxiliary fuel tank system is deactivated. The AFM revisions specified in this paragraph may be accomplished by inserting a copy of this AD into the AFM.

(8) Amend the applicable sections of the applicable airplane maintenance manual to remove auxiliary fuel tank system maintenance procedures.

(9) After the auxiliary fuel tank system is deactivated, accomplish procedures such as leak checks, pressure checks, and functional checks deemed necessary before returning the airplane to service. These procedures must include verification that the basic airplane OEM FQIS, fuel distribution, and fuel venting systems function properly and have not been adversely affected by deactivation of the auxiliary fuel tank system.

(10) Include with the proposed deactivation procedures any relevant information or additional steps that are deemed necessary by the operator to comply with the deactivation of the auxiliary fuel tank system and return of the airplane to service.

Start Signature

Issued in Renton, Washington, on December 21, 2007.

Ali Bahrami,

Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

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End Part End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. E8-384 Filed 1-11-08; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-13-P