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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes

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ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

SUMMARY:

We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all The Boeing Company Model 717-200 airplanes. This proposed AD was prompted by multiple reports of cracks of overwing frames. This proposed AD would require repetitive inspections for cracking of the overwing frames, and related investigative and corrective actions if necessary. We are proposing this AD to detect and correct such cracking that could sever a frame, which may increase the loading of adjacent frames, and result in damage to the adjacent structure and consequent loss of structural integrity of the airplane.

DATES:

We must receive comments on this proposed AD by June 25, 2012.

ADDRESSES:

You may send comments, using the procedures found in 14 CFR 11.43 and 11.45, 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: Deliver to Mail address above between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, 3855 Lakewood Boulevard, MC D800-0019, Long Beach, California 90846-0001; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 2; fax 206-766-5683; email dse.boecom@boeing.com; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may review copies of the referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, Washington. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

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 (phone: (800) 647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

George Garrido, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Branch, ANM-120L, FAA, Los Angeles Aircraft Certification Office, 3960 Paramount Boulevard, Lakewood, CA 90712-4137; phone: (562) 627-5357; fax: 562-627-5210; email: george.garrido@faa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Comments Invited

We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposal. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2012-0425; Directorate Identifier 2011-NM-273-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

We received multiple reports of cracks of overwing frames on Model MD-80 airplanes, and one report each on Model MD-90-30 and Model 717 airplanes. The Model 717 airplane had accumulated 18,235 total flight hours and 14,542 total flight cycles. Due to similarity in frame design, the manufacturer determined the overwing frames at stations 674, 696, and 715 on Model 717 airplanes are susceptible to cracks. The cracks, caused by fatigue, originate in the upper radius of the frame inboard tab just below the floor. This condition, if not corrected, could result in a severed frame, which may increase the loading of adjacent frames and result in damage to the adjacent structure and consequent loss of structural integrity of the airplane.

Related Rulemaking

The overwing frames on Model 717 airplanes have the same design as those installed on Model MD-80 and Model MD-90-30 airplanes. AD 2008-13-29, Amendment 39-15592 (73 FR 38883, July 8, 2008), addresses cracked overwing frames on Model MD-80 airplanes. AD 2010-05-04, Amendment 39-16213 (75 FR 8465, February 25, 2010), addresses cracked overwing frames on Model MD-90-30 airplanes.

Relevant Service Information

We reviewed Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 717-53A0034, dated October 5, 2011. That service bulletin describes procedures for repetitive general visual and high frequency eddy current inspections to detect cracking of the overwing frames at stations 674, 696, and 715, left and right sides, and related investigative and corrective actions if necessary.

Related investigative actions include measuring crack length. Corrective actions include a blend-out repair, or replacing the cracked overwing frame with a new frame, depending on the results of the inspection.

For the repetitive inspections for cracking of the overwing frames, the service information specifies an interval not to exceed 9,300 flight cycles; except after accomplishing a replacement, the next inspection is within 20,000 flight cycles after the replacement.

FAA's Determination

We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all the relevant information and determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of these same type designs.

Proposed AD Requirements

This proposed AD would require accomplishing the actions specified in the service information described previously.

Costs of Compliance

We estimate that this proposed AD affects 129 airplanes of U.S. registry.

We estimate the following costs to comply with this proposed AD:

Estimated Costs

ActionLabor costParts costCost per productCost on U.S. operators
Inspections46 work-hours × $85 per hour = $3,910 per inspection cycle$0$3,910$504,390

We estimate the following costs to do any necessary replacements/repairs that would be required based on the results of the proposed inspections. We have no way of determining the number of aircraft that might need these replacements:

On-Condition Costs

ActionLabor costParts costCost per product
Blendout repair12 work-hours × $85 per hour = $1,020$0$1,020.
Replacement of a frame station130 work-hours × $85 per hour = $11,050Up to $86,977Up to $98,027.

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),

(3) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska, and

(4) 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.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

The Proposed Amendment

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

PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES

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

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

[Amended]

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

The Boeing Company: Docket No. FAA-2012-0425; Directorate Identifier 2011-NM-273-AD.

(a) Comments Due Date

We must receive comments by June 25, 2012.

(b) Affected ADs

None.

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to The Boeing Company Model 717-200 airplanes, certificated in any category.

(d) Subject

Joint Aircraft System Component (JASC)/Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 53: Fuselage.

(e) Unsafe Condition

This AD was prompted by multiple reports of cracks of overwing frames. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct such cracking that could sever a frame, which may increase the loading of adjacent frames, and result in damage to the adjacent structure and consequent loss of structural integrity of the airplane.

(f) Compliance

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

(g) Actions

Before the accumulation of 20,000 total flight cycles, or within 8,275 flight cycles after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs later: Do a general visual and high frequency eddy current inspection for cracking of the left and right side overwing frames at stations 674, 696, and 715; and do all applicable related investigative and corrective actions; in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 717-53A0034, dated October 5, 2011. Do all applicable related investigative and corrective actions before further flight. Repeat the inspections thereafter at the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 717-53A0034, dated October 5, 2011.

(h) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

(1) The Manager, Los Angeles Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the manager of the ACO, send it to the attention of the person identified in the Related Information section of this AD.

(2) Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office.

(3) An AMOC that provides an acceptable level of safety may be used for any repair required by this AD if it is approved by the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) that has been authorized by the Manager, Los Angeles ACO to make those findings. For a repair method to be approved, the repair must meet the certification basis of the airplane and 14 CFR 25.571, Amendment 45, and the approval must specifically refer to this AD.

(i) Related Information

(1) For more information about this AD, contact George Garrido, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Branch, ANM-120L, FAA, Los Angeles Aircraft Certification Office, 3960 Paramount Boulevard, Lakewood, CA 90712-4137; phone: 562-627-5357; fax: 562-627-5210; email: george.garrido@faa.gov.

(2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, 3855 Lakewood Boulevard, MC D800-0019, Long Beach, California 90846-0001; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 2; fax 206-766-5683; email dse.boecom@boeing.com; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may review copies of the referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, Washington. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

Issued in Renton, Washington, on April 29, 2012.

Michael Kaszycki,

Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

[FR Doc. 2012-11022 Filed 5-8-12; 8:45 am]

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