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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Eurocopter France Helicopters

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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 Eurocopter France (Eurocopter) Model AS332C, AS332L, AS332L1, AS332L2, and EC225LP helicopters to require inspecting for the presence of blind holes in the tail gearbox (TGB) attachment fittings, and, if they are missing, installing an additional washer under the head of the attachment bolt until the attachment fitting is replaced with an airworthy attachment fitting. This proposed AD was prompted by the discovery of interference between the TGB aft attachment bolt and the structure fitting, caused by a manufacturing anomaly that omitted the blind hole required for proper fit of the attachment bolt. This condition, if not detected and corrected, could result in insufficient tightening of the TGB casing, damage to the TGB attachment, cracking under the attachment bolt, and loss of the TGB, resulting in loss of control of the helicopter.

DATES:

We must receive comments on this proposed AD by June 21, 2013.

ADDRESSES:

You may send comments by any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Docket: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically.
  • Fax: 202-493-2251.
  • Mail: Send comments to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
  • Hand Delivery: Deliver to the “Mail” address 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 N. Forum Drive, Grand Prairie, TX 75052; telephone (972) 641-0000 or (800) 232-0323; fax (972) 641-3775; or at http://www.eurocopter.com/​techpub. You may review a copy of the referenced service information at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 2601 Meacham Blvd., Room 663, Fort Worth, Texas 76137.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Gary Roach, Aviation Safety Engineer, Regulations and Policy Group, Rotorcraft Directorate, FAA, 2601 Meacham Blvd., Fort Worth, TX 76137; telephone (817) 222-5110; email gary.b.roach@faa.gov.

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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 Start Printed Page 23687document. 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 Direction Générale de L'Aviation Civile France (DGAC), the aviation authority for France, has issued DGAC AD No. F-2007-027, dated January 2, 2008 (F-2007-027), to correct an unsafe condition for certain Eurocopter AS332 series and EC225 LP helicopters. The DGAC advises that during a scheduled maintenance check, a helicopter was discovered to have interference between the threaded section of the aft attachment bolt and the structure fitting. The interference is because of a manufacturing anomaly in the fittings that omitted the blind hole for bolt clearance in the structure fitting. Interference from this missing blind hole does not permit correct axial tightening of the TGB casing, even if the correct torque load is applied to the attachment bolt. Insufficient tightening of the bolt can damage the TGB attachment and initiate a crack under the head of the attachment bolt. This condition, if not corrected, could result in loss of the TGB and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

FAA's Determination

These helicopters have been approved by the aviation authority of France and are approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to our bilateral agreement with France, DGAC, which is the production oversight authority for France, has notified us of the unsafe condition described in its AD. We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all known relevant information and determined that an unsafe condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other products of these same type designs.

Related Service Information

Eurocopter has issued one Emergency Alert Service Bulletin (EASB), Revision 1, dated January 4, 2008, with four different numbers. EASB No. 53.01.58 is for the Model AS332 series helicopters; EASB No. 53.00.58 is for the Model AS532 series helicopters, which are not FAA type certificated; EASB No. 53A012 is for the Model EC225LP helicopter; and EASB No. 53A011 is for the Model EC 725AP helicopter, which is not FAA type certificated. The EASB specifies inspecting the forward and aft attachment fittings for proper depth of the bolt holes. If the bolt holes are less than the minimum depth, the EASB specifies checking the condition of the bolt. If there are no signs of chafing or contact, the EASB calls for adding an additional washer to the bolt and reinstalling the bolt in the TGB attachment fitting. If there are signs of chafing or contact, the EASB requires replacing the bolt with an airworthy bolt and two washers. The DGAC classified this EASB as mandatory and issued F-2007-027 to ensure the continued airworthiness of these helicopters.

Proposed AD Requirements

This proposed AD would require, within 50 hours time-in-service, inspecting the TGB aft and forward attachment fittings for the presence of a blind hole and measuring the depth. If the measurement is equal to or greater than 81 mm, no action would be necessary. If the measurement is less than 81 mm, the proposed AD would require inspecting the attachment bolts for chafing or contact marks. If there is no chafing or marks, the proposed AD would require reinstalling each bolt with an additional washer. If there is chafing or contact marks, the proposed AD would require replacing each bolt with an airworthy bolt and an additional washer.

Costs of Compliance

We estimate that this proposed AD would affect six helicopters of U.S. registry. Based on an average estimated labor cost of $85 per work-hour, we estimate the following costs:

  • Inspecting the TGB for the presence of a blind hole would require 0.50 work-hour for a labor cost of about $43. No parts would be needed, so the cost would total $43 per helicopter, or $258 for the fleet.
  • Replacing bolts and adding a second washer if needed would require 0.50 work-hour for a labor cost of about $43. Parts would cost about $200 for three replacement bolts and the washers for a total cost of $243 per helicopter.
  • Replacing the TGB attachment fitting with an airworthy fitting would require 40 work-hours for a labor cost of $3,400. Parts would cost about $1,921 for a total cost of $5,321 per helicopter.

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.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

  • Air transportation
  • Aircraft
  • Aviation safety
  • Incorporation by reference
  • Safety
End List of Subjects

The Proposed Amendment

Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, Start Printed Page 23688the FAA proposes to amend 14 CFR part 39 as follows:

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PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES

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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]
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2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new Airworthiness Directive (AD):

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Eurocopter France Helicopters: Docket No. FAA-2013-0353; Directorate Identifier 2008-SW-029-AD.

(a) Applicability

This AD applies to Eurocopter France (Eurocopter) models AS332C, AS332L, AS332L1, AS332L2, and EC225LP helicopters, serial numbers (S/N) up to and including 2680 and S/N 9000 through 9009, certificated in any category.

(b) Unsafe Condition

This AD defines the unsafe condition as interference between the tail gearbox (TGB) attachment bolt and the structure fitting. This condition could result in insufficient tightening of the TGB casing, damage to the TGB attachment, cracking under the attachment bolt, loss of the TGB and consequently, loss of helicopter control.

(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

Within 50 hours time-in-service (TIS):

(1) Inspect the TGB aft attachment fitting to measure the dimension for a blind hole as follows:

(i) Remove the TGB attachment bolt (c) but retain washer (d) as depicted in Detail A, Figure 1, of Eurocopter Emergency Alert Service Bulletin (EASB) No. 53.01.58 and EASB No. 53A012, both Revision 1, and both dated January 4, 2008.

(ii) Use a depth gauge to measure dimension “x” between the top face of the washer (d) and the bottom of aft fitting (a) as depicted in Detail A, Figure 1, of the EASB.

(2) If the measurement is equal to or greater than 81 mm, then the blind hole is present. Install the TGB attachment bolt (c) with its washer (d) as depicted in Detail A, Figure 1, of the EASB. Lock with lockwire.

(3) If the measurement is less than 81 mm, then the blind hole is missing. Inspect the end of the threaded section of bolt (c) for chafing or a contact mark, as depicted in Area 1, Figure 1, of the EASB.

(i) If there is no chafing and no contact marks, install bolt (c) with washer (d) and additional washer (2) as depicted in Detail B, Figure 1, of the EASB.

(ii) If there is chafing or a contact mark, replace the TGB attachment bolt (c) with an airworthy bolt and install with washer (d) and additional washer (2) as depicted in Detail B, Figure 1, of the EASB. Lock with lockwire.

(iii) Within the next 825 hours TIS, replace the TGB aft attachment fitting with an airworthy attachment fitting.

(4) Inspect the right and left attachment points of the TGB forward attachment to measure the dimension for a blind hole, as follows:

(i) Remove both TGB attachment bolts (c) but retain washers (d), as depicted in Detail A, Figure 2, of the EASB.

(ii) Use a depth gauge to measure dimension “x” between the top face of washer (d) and the bottom of forward fitting (b) at the right and left attachment points, as depicted in Detail A, Figure 2, of the EASB.

(5) If both measurements are equal to or greater than 81 mm, then the blind hole is present. Install TGB attachment bolt (c) with its washer (d), as depicted in Detail A, Figure 2, of the EASB. Lock with lockwire.

(6) If one or both measurements are less than 81 mm, then the blind hole is missing. Inspect the end of the threaded section of each bolt (c) for chafing or a contact mark, as depicted in Area 1, Figure 2 of the EASB.

(i) If there is no chafing and no contact marks, for each attachment point, install bolt (c) with washer (d) and additional washer (2), as depicted in Detail B, Figure 2, of the EASB.

(ii) If there is chafing or a contact mark, replace each the TGB attachment bolt (c) with an airworthy bolt and install bolt (1) with washer (d) and additional washer (2), as depicted in Detail B, Figure 2, of the EASB. Lock with lockwire.

(iii) Within the next 825 hours TIS, replace the TGB forward attachment fitting with an airworthy attachment fitting.

(e) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOC)

(1) The Manager, Safety Management Group, FAA, may approve AMOCs for this AD. Send your proposal to: Gary Roach, Aviation Safety Engineer, Regulations and Policy Group, Rotorcraft Directorate, FAA, 2601 Meacham Blvd., Fort Worth, TX 76137; telephone (817) 222-5110; 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

The subject of this AD is addressed in the Direction Générale de L'Aviation Civile France AD No F-2007-027, dated January 2, 2008.

(g) Subject

Joint Aircraft Service Component (JASC) Code: 6520, Tail Rotor Gearbox.

Start Signature

Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on April 11, 2013.

Lance T. Gant,

Acting Directorate Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

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[FR Doc. 2013-09414 Filed 4-19-13; 8:45 am]

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