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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Eurocopter France Helicopters

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

SUMMARY:

We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for Eurocopter France (Eurocopter) Model AS350BA helicopters with certain AERAZUR emergency flotation gear container assemblies installed. This proposed AD would require replacing each affected emergency flotation gear container assembly (container assembly) at specified time limits based on the date of manufacture. This proposed AD is prompted by a recognition that container assemblies with an intended operating limitation of 10 years may not have been replaced because the limit is no longer recorded in the Maintenance Program. The proposed actions are intended to prevent failure of the emergency container assembly due to age and subsequent damage to the helicopter and injury to the occupants after an emergency water landing.

DATES:

We must receive comments on this proposed AD by September 24, 2012.

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 Operations Office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the economic evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Operations Office (telephone 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact American Eurocopter Corporation, 2701 Forum Drive, Grand Prairie, TX 75053-4005, telephone (800) 232-0323, fax (972) 641-3710, or at http://www.eurocopter.com. You may review a copy of the service information at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 2601 Meacham Blvd., Room 663, Fort Worth, Texas 76137.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Gary Roach, Aviation Safety Engineer, FAA, Rotorcraft Directorate, Regulations and Policy Group, 2601 Meacham Blvd., Fort Worth, Texas 76137, telephone (817) 222-5130, fax (817) 222-5961, email gary.b.roach@faa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION

Comments Invited

We invite you to participate in this rulemaking by submitting written comments, data, or views. We also invite comments relating to the economic, environmental, energy, or federalism impacts that might result from adopting the proposals in this document. The most helpful comments reference a specific portion of the proposal, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include supporting data. To ensure the docket does not contain duplicate comments, commenters should send only one copy of written comments, or if comments are filed electronically, commenters should submit only one time.

We will file in the docket all comments that we receive, as well as a report summarizing each substantive public contact with FAA personnel concerning this proposed rulemaking. Before acting on this proposal, we will consider all comments we receive on or before the closing date for comments. We will consider comments filed after the comment period has closed if it is possible to do so without incurring expense or delay. We may change this proposal in light of the comments we receive.

Discussion

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued AD No. 2008-0189, dated October 10, 2008, to correct an unsafe condition for the Eurocopter Model AS350BA helicopters with certain AERAZUR emergency flotation gear installed. EASA advises that the container assemblies have an operating life limit of 10 years from the date of manufacture. The EASA AD states that “as of June 2006, this limit is no longer recorded in the Maintenance Program; therefore, after June 2006, container assemblies having already exceeded the 10-year limit could have not been replaced yet.” The EASA AD also states that “floating performance of a helicopter may prove to be insufficient in the event of ditching, in case of failure of a container assembly being operated beyond its operating time limit.”

FAA's Determination

This helicopter model is manufactured in France and is type certificated for operation in the United States under the provisions of 14 CFR 21.29 and the applicable bilateral agreement. Pursuant to the applicable bilateral agreement, EASA has kept the FAA informed of the situation described above.

We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all known relevant information and determined that an unsafe condition is likely to exist or develop on other products of the same type design.

Related Service Information

Eurocopter has issued Alert Service Bulletin No. 25.01.02, dated September 24, 2008 (EASB), which specifies certain times measured from the date of manufacture to replace the container assemblies. EASA classified this EASB as mandatory and issued AD No. 2008-0189, dated October 10, 2008, to ensure the continued airworthiness of these helicopters.

Proposed AD Requirements

This proposed AD would require determining the manufacturing date of each part-numbered container assembly, and depending on the date, replacing the container assembly with an airworthy container assembly at specified times.

Differences Between This Proposed AD and the EASA AD

We do not allow return of the container assemblies to the manufacturer for an inspection and extension of the life limit.

Costs of Compliance

We estimate that this proposed AD would affect 85 helicopters of U.S. registry. We estimate that operators may incur the following costs in order to comply with this AD.

  • It would take minimal time to determine the manufacturing date of the container and about 1/2 work hour per helicopter to replace the container assemblies at an average labor rate of $85 per work hour.
  • Required parts would cost about $21,775 for the left container assembly and $26,690 for the right container assembly per helicopter.

Based on these figures, we estimate the total cost impact of the proposed AD on U.S. operators to be $485,075, assuming 10 helicopters require replacement of the right and left container assemblies.

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, 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 to the extent that it justifies making a regulatory distinction; 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.

We prepared an economic evaluation of the estimated costs to comply with this proposed AD and placed it in the AD docket.

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. Section 39.13 is amended by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD):

Eurocopter France: Docket No. FAA-2012-0774; Directorate Identifier 2010-SW-057-AD.

(a) Applicability

This AD applies to Model AS350BA helicopters with AERAZUR left-hand emergency flotation gear container assembly (container assembly), part number (P/N) 158170 or 158210-1, or right-hand container assembly, P/N 158171 or 158215-1, installed, certificated in any category.

(b) Unsafe Condition

This AD defines the unsafe condition as failure of the container assembly due to age and subsequent damage to the helicopter. This condition could result in injury to the occupants after an emergency water landing.

(c) Compliance

You are responsible for performing each action required by this AD within the specified compliance time unless it has already been accomplished prior to that time.

(d) Required Actions

(1) Determine the manufacturing date of each part-numbered container assembly stamped on the cover of the identification plate.

(2) Replace each container assembly with an airworthy container assembly as follows:

(i) For a container assembly with a date of manufacture 12 or more years before the effective date of this AD, replace within 30 days.

(ii) For a container assembly with a date of manufacture 10 or more years and less than 12 years before the effective date of this AD, replace within 60 days.

(iii) For a container assembly with a date of manufacture 9 or more years and less than 10 years before the effective date of this AD, replace before reaching 10 years and 60 days.

(iv) For a container assembly with a date of manufacture less than 9 years before the effective date of this AD, replace before reaching 10 years.

(e) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

(1) The Manager, Safety Management Group, FAA, may approve AMOCs for this AD. Send your proposal to: Gary Roach, 2601 Meacham Blvd., Fort Worth, Texas 76137; telephone: 817-222-5130, fax: 817-222-5961, email gary.b.roach@faa.gov.

(2) For operations conducted under a 14 CFR part 119 operating certificate or under 14 CFR part 91, subpart K, we suggest that you notify your principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office or certificate holding district office before operating any aircraft complying with this AD through an AMOC.

(f) Additional Information

(1) Eurocopter Alert Service Bulletin No. 25.01.02, dated September 24, 2008, which is not incorporated by reference, contains additional information about the subject of this AD. For service information identified in this AD, contact American Eurocopter Corporation, 2701 Forum Drive, Grand Prairie, TX 75053-4005, telephone (800) 232-0323, fax (972) 641-3710, or at http://www.eurocopter.com. You may review a copy of the service information at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 2601 Meacham Blvd., Room 663, Fort Worth, Texas 76137.

(2) The subject of this AD is addressed in European Aviation Safety Agency AD No. 2008-0189, dated October 10, 2008.

(g) Subject

Joint Aircraft Service Component (JASC) Code: 3212 Emergency Flotation Section.

Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on July 18, 2012.

Kim Smith,

Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

[FR Doc. 2012-18253 Filed 7-25-12; 8:45 am]

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