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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Airplanes

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ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

SUMMARY:

We propose to supersede an existing airworthiness directive (AD) that applies to certain Airbus Model A319 and A320 airplanes. The existing AD currently requires repetitive detailed inspections to detect cracks in the keel beam side panels, and repair if necessary. Since we issued that AD, we have received reports of access difficulties. Additionally, we have determined that the detailed inspection is not sufficient to mitigate the unsafe condition. This proposed AD would require repetitive eddy current inspections for cracking in the keel beam side panels, and corrective actions if necessary. We are proposing this AD to detect and correct fatigue cracks on the side panels of the keel beams, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

DATES:

We must receive comments on this proposed AD by November 19, 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, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact Airbus, Airworthiness Office—EAS, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email account.airworth-eas@airbus.com; Internet http://www.airbus.com. You may review copies of the referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. 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 Operations office 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 Operations office (telephone (800) 647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Sanjay Ralhan, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone (425) 227-1405; fax (425) 227-1149.

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-2012-1038; Directorate Identifier 2011-NM-166-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 based on 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

On June 16, 2004, we issued AD 2004-13-06, Amendment 39-13688 (69 FR 38818, June 29, 2004). That AD required actions intended to address an unsafe condition on the products listed above.

Since we issued AD 2004-13-06, Amendment 39-13688 (69 FR 38818, June 29, 2004), we have determined that the detailed inspection required by AD 2004-13-06 is not sufficient to mitigate the unsafe condition. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Community, has issued EASA Airworthiness Directive 2011-0134, dated July 15, 2011 (referred to after this as “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for the specified products. The MCAI states:

During certification structural fatigue tests, several cases of structural damage (cracks) have been found on keel beam side panels. Cracks were observed on both sides of the keel beam around the rivets below the center wing box between frame (FR) 40 and FR 42, and in part of the area of the upper elliptical cut out forward of FR 41.

This type of damage, if not detected and repaired, would adversely affect the structural integrity of the aeroplane.

To address this unsafe condition, DGAC [Direction Générale de l'Aviation Civile] France issued AD 2003-146 [which corresponds to FAA AD 2004-13-06, Amendment 39-13688 (69 FR 38818, June 29, 2004)] to require repetitive detailed inspections of those two areas and corrective actions, depending on findings.

Prompted by reported access difficulties and to allow extension of the interval between two consecutive inspections, Airbus validated an Eddy current Non-Destructive Test (NDT) inspection to replace the detailed inspection.

For the reasons described above, this [EASA] AD, which supersedes DGAC France AD 2003-146, requires repetitive Eddy-current NDT inspections for cracks in the affected areas of the keel beam side panel below the center wing box and corrective actions [repair], depending on findings.

You may obtain further information by examining the MCAI in the AD docket.

Relevant Service Information

Airbus has issued Mandatory Service Bulletin A320-53-1060, Revision 02, dated November 30, 2010. The actions described in this service information are intended to correct the unsafe condition identified in the MCAI.

FAA's Determination and Requirements of This Proposed AD

This product has been approved by the aviation authority of another country, and is approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to our bilateral agreement with the State of Design Authority, we have been notified of the unsafe condition described in the MCAI and service information referenced above. We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all pertinent information and determined an unsafe condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other products of the same type design.

Differences Between This AD and the MCAI or Service Information

Although the MCAI and Airbus Mandatory Service Bulletin A320-53-1060, Revision 02, dated November 30, 2010, allow further flight after cracks are found during compliance with the proposed actions, this proposed AD would require repair before further flight if cracks are detected in the keel beam side panels. We have determined that, because of the safety implications and consequences associated with that cracking, any cracking in the keel beam side panels must be repaired before further flight.

Costs of Compliance

Based on the service information, we estimate that this proposed AD would affect about 351 products of U.S. registry.

We estimate that it would take about 29 work-hours per product to comply with the new basic requirements of this proposed AD. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of the proposed AD on U.S. operators to be $865,215, or $2,465 per product.

We have received no definitive data that would enable us to provide cost estimates for the on-condition actions specified in this proposed AD. We have no way of determining the number of products that may need these actions.

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.

We prepared a regulatory 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. The FAA amends § 39.13 by removing airworthiness directive (AD) 2004-13-06, Amendment 39-13688 (69 FR 38818, June 29, 2004), and adding the following new AD:

Airbus: Docket No. FAA-2012-1038; Directorate Identifier 2011-NM-166-AD.

(a) Comments Due Date

We must receive comments by November 19, 2012.

(b) Affected ADs

This AD supersedes AD 2004-13-06, Amendment 39-13688 (69 FR 38818, June 29, 2004).

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to Airbus Model A319-111, -112, -113, -114, -115, -131, -132, and -133 airplanes; and Model A320-111, -211, -212, -214, -231, -232, and -233 airplanes; certificated in any category; all manufacturer serial numbers, except those having embodied Airbus modification 30355 in production.

(d) Subject

Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 53, Fuselage.

(e) Reason

This AD was prompted by reports of cracks on the side panels of the keel beams. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct fatigue cracks on the side panels of the keel beams, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

(f) Compliance

You are responsible for having the actions required by this AD performed within the compliance times specified, unless the actions have already been done.

(g) Repetitive Eddy Current Inspection

At the applicable compliance time in paragraph (k)(1) or (k)(2) of this AD: Do an eddy current non-destructive test (NDT) inspection to detect cracks in the keel beam side panels at Area A and Area B, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Mandatory Service Bulletin A320-53-1060, Revision 02, dated November 30, 2010. Repeat the inspection thereafter at intervals not to exceed 12,000 flight cycles or 26,700 flight hours, whichever occurs first. Area A is part of the area of the upper elliptical cut-out stringer (STGR) 42 on the left-hand (LH) and right-hand (RH) side forward of Frame (FR) 41, and Area B is the area around the rivets on both sides of the keel beam side panel below the center wing box at STGR 42 on the LH and RH side between FR 40 and FR 42.

(1) For airplanes that have been inspected as specified in Airworthiness Limitations Item (ALI) Task 533142-01-1, which was specified in the Airbus A319/A320/A321 ALI document up to Revision 05 inclusive; or as specified in Airbus A319/A320/A321 Maintenance Review Board (MRB) Report up to Revision 08 inclusive; or as specified in the instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-53-1060, dated June 19, 2002, or Revision 01, dated April 2, 2004: At the later of the times specified in paragraphs (g)(1)(i) and (g)(1)(ii) of this AD.

(i) Within 4,300 flight cycles or 9,600 flight hours after the last inspection, whichever occurs first.

(ii) Within 30 days after the effective date of this AD.

(2) For airplanes other than those identified in paragraph (g)(1) of this AD: At the later of the times specified in paragraphs (g)(2)(i) and (g)(2)(ii) of this AD.

(i) Prior to the accumulation of 24,200 total flight cycles, or 48,400 total flight hours, whichever occurs first.

(ii) Within 30 days after the effective date of this AD.

(h) Corrective Action for Cracking

(1) If any crack is found in Area A during any inspection required by paragraph (g) of this AD: Before further flight, repair the affected area, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Mandatory Service Bulletin A320-53-1060, Revision 02, dated November 30, 2010. Accomplishing a repair terminates the repetitive inspections of Area A required by paragraph (g) of this AD for that side of the keel beam.

(2) If any crack is found in Area B during any inspection required by this AD: Before further flight, repair the affected area in accordance with a method approved by either the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) (or its delegated agent).

(i) Other FAA AD Provisions

The following provisions also apply to this AD:

(1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, International Branch, 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 International Branch, send it to ATTN: Sanjay Ralhan, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone (425) 227-1405; fax (425) 227-1149. Information may be emailed to: 9-ANM-116-AMOC-REQUESTS@faa.gov. 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. The AMOC approval letter must specifically reference this AD.

(2) Airworthy Product: For any requirement in this AD to obtain corrective actions from a manufacturer or other source, use these actions if they are FAA-approved. Corrective actions are considered FAA-approved if they are approved by the State of Design Authority (or their delegated agent). You are required to assure the product is airworthy before it is returned to service.

(j) Special Flight Permits

Special flight permits may be issued in accordance with sections 21.197 and 21.199 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR 21.197 and 21.199) to operate the airplane to a location where the airplane can be repaired (if the operator elects to do so), provided the conditions in paragraph (n)(1), (n)(2), or (n)(3) of this AD are met. Areas A and B are defined in Airbus Mandatory Service Bulletin A320-53-1060, Revision 02, dated November 30, 2010.

(1) No multiple cracks in Area A.

(2) If there is a single crack in Area A, the length must be less than 20.0 millimeters (0.79 inch).

(3) No cracking in Area B.

(k) Related Information

(1) Refer to MCAI EASA Airworthiness Directive 2011-0134, dated July 15, 2011; and Airbus Mandatory Service Bulletin A320-53-1060, Revision 02, dated November 30, 2010; for related information.

(2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus, Airworthiness Office—EAS, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email account.airworth-eas@airbus.com; Internet http://www.airbus.com. You may review copies of the referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

Issued in Renton, Washington, on September 26, 2012.

Ali Bahrami,

Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

[FR Doc. 2012-24404 Filed 10-3-12; 8:45 am]

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