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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Boeing Model 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, and -900 Series Airplanes

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

SUMMARY:

We propose 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 replacement of the power control relays in the P91 and P92 power distribution panels for the fuel boost and override pumps with new improved relays. This proposed AD would also require a revision to the Airworthiness Limitations (AWLs) section of the Instructions for Continued Airworthiness to incorporate AWL No. 28-AWL-20. This proposed AD results from fuel system reviews conducted by the manufacturer. We are proposing this AD to prevent pump housing burn-through due to electrical arcing, which could create a potential ignition source inside a fuel tank. This condition, 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 April 25, 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.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jen Pei, Aerospace Engineer, Systems and Equipment Branch, ANM-130S, FAA, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone (425) 917-6409; fax (425) 917-6590.

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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-2008-0269; Directorate Identifier 2007-NM-320-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. Start Printed Page 12911

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.

The power control relays for the fuel boost and override pumps must be replaced with new relays that include a ground fault interrupter (GFI) feature. The GFI is designed to detect electrical faults and open the circuit prior to pump housing burn-through. Burn-through due to electrical arcing could create a potential ignition source inside the center fuel tank. This condition in combination with flammable fuel vapors, 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 737-28A1201, dated February 19, 2007. The service bulletin describes procedures for replacing the power control relays in the P91 and P92 power distribution panels for the fuel boost and override pumps with new, improved relays having a GFI feature.

The Boeing service bulletin refers to Honeywell Service Bulletin 1151932-24-61, dated November 10, 2006, as an additional source of service information for replacing the power control relays in the P91 power distribution panel. The Boeing service bulletin also refers to Honeywell Service Bulletin 1151934-24-62, dated November 10, 2006, as an additional source of service information for replacing the power control relays in the P92 power distribution panels.

We have also reviewed Section 9 of the Boeing 737-600/700/800/900 Maintenance Planning Data (MPD) Document, D626A001-CMR, Revision March 2007 R2 (hereafter referred to as “Revision March 2007 of the MPD”). Subsection F, “AIRWORTHINESS LIMITATIONS—FUEL SYSTEMS AWLs,” of Revision March 2007 of the MPD describes new airworthiness limitations (AWLs) for fuel tank systems. Subsection F of Revision March 2007 of the MPD adds new fuel system AWL No. 28-AWL-20, which is a repetitive operational check of the GFI for all alternating current fuel tank boost pumps to ensure continued functionality of the GFI circuit.

FAA's Determination and Requirements of This Proposed AD

We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all relevant information and determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of the(se) same type design(s). This proposed AD would require the following actions:

  • Replacement of the power control relays in the P91 and P92 power distribution panels for the fuel boost and override pumps with new, improved relays having a GFI feature.
  • Revision to the AWLs section of the Instructions for Continued Airworthiness to incorporate AWL No. 28-AWL-20, which would require repetitive operational checks of the GFI for all alternating current fuel tank boost pumps to ensure continued functionality.

This proposed AD would also allow accomplishing the revision to the AWLs section of the Instructions for Continued Airworthiness in accordance with later revisions of the MPD as an acceptable method of compliance if they are approved by the Manager, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office, FAA.

Costs of Compliance

We estimate that this proposed AD would affect 754 aircraft of U.S. registry. 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 productFleet cost
Installation of GFI relays8$11,010$11,650$8,784,100
Maintenance program revision1None$80$60,320
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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 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 this 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.

You can find our regulatory evaluation and the estimated costs of compliance in the AD Docket.

Start List of Subjects

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 FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new AD:

Boeing: Docket No. FAA-2008-0269; Directorate Identifier 2007-NM-320-AD.

Comments Due Date

(a) We must receive comments by April 25, 2008.

Affected ADs

(b) None.

Applicability

(c) This AD applies to Boeing Model 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, and -900 series airplanes, certificated in any category; as identified in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-28A1201, dated February 19, 2007.

Note 1:

This AD requires revisions to certain operator maintenance documents to include new inspections. Compliance with these inspections is required by 14 CFR 91.403(c). For airplanes that have been previously modified, altered, or repaired in the areas addressed by these inspections, the operator may not be able to accomplish the inspections described in the revisions. In this situation, to comply with 14 CFR 91.403(c), the operator must request approval for an alternative method of compliance (AMOC) according to paragraph (i) of this AD. The request should include a description of changes to the required inspections that will ensure the continued operational safety of the airplane.

Unsafe Condition

(d) This AD results from fuel system reviews conducted by the manufacturer. We are issuing this AD to prevent pump housing burn-through due to electrical arcing, which could create a potential ignition source inside a fuel tank. This condition, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in a fuel tank explosion and consequent loss of the airplane.

Compliance

(e) Comply with this AD within the compliance times specified, unless already done.

Replacement

(f) Within 60 months after the effective date of this AD, replace the power control relays in the P91 and P92 power distribution panels for the fuel boost and override pumps with new improved relays having a ground fault interrupter (GFI) feature, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of the service bulletin.

Note 2:

The Boeing service bulletin refers to Honeywell Service Bulletin 1151932-24-61 and Honeywell Service Bulletin 1151934-24-62, both dated November 10, 2006, as additional sources of service information for replacement of the power control relays in the P91 and P92 power distribution panels.

Airworthiness Limitations (AWLs) Revision

(g) Concurrently with accomplishing the actions specified in paragraph (f) of this AD, revise the AWLs section of the Instructions for Continued Airworthiness by incorporating AWL No. 28-AWL-20 of Subsection F of the Boeing 737-600/700/800/900 Maintenance Planning Data (MPD) Document, D626A001-CMR, Section 9, Revision March 2007 R2 (hereafter referred to as “the MPD”).

No Alternative Inspections or Inspection Intervals

(h) After accomplishing the action specified in paragraph (g) of this AD, no alternative inspections or inspection intervals may be used unless the inspections or intervals are part of a later revision of the MPD that is approved by the Manager, Seattle ACO; or unless the inspections or intervals are approved as an AMOC in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (j) of this AD.

Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

(i)(1) The Manager, Seattle ACO, FAA, ATTN: Jen Pei, Aerospace Engineer, Systems and Equipment Branch, ANM-130S, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone (425) 917-6409; fax (425) 917-6590; has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using 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 March 3, 2008.

Ali Bahrami,

Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

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[FR Doc. E8-4773 Filed 3-10-08; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-13-P