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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes

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Start Preamble Start Printed Page 22619

AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

SUMMARY:

We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all The Boeing Company 737-100, -200, -200C, -300, -400, and -500 series airplanes. This proposed AD was prompted by a report of cracks in the upper aft skin of the right wing at certain fastener holes along the rear spar upper chord. This proposed AD would require repetitive inspections for cracking of the upper aft skin of the wings, and repair if necessary. We are proposing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.

DATES:

We must receive comments on this proposed AD by July 3, 2017.

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 NPRM, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Contractual & Data Services (C&DS), 2600 Westminster Blvd., MC 110-SK57, Seal Beach, CA 90740; telephone 562-797-1717; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this 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. It is also available on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-0335.

Examining the AD Docket

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-0335; 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.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Payman Soltani, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Branch, ANM-120L, FAA, Los Angeles Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), 3960 Paramount Boulevard, Lakewood, CA 90712-4137; phone: 562-627-5313; fax: 562-627-5210; email: payman.soltani@faa.gov.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

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-2017-0335; Directorate Identifier 2017-NM-025-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 have received a report indicating that cracks were found in the upper aft skin of the right wing at fastener holes along the rear spar upper chord at wing buttock line (WBL) 125 (crack length 0.045 inch) and WBL 141 (crack length 0.060 inch). The cracks originated from fastener holes in the upper aft skin and had not penetrated the thickness of the skin. There were 68,100 total flight hours and 55,151 total flight cycles on the airplane. Several other reports of similar crack findings were found on airplanes having between 48,220 and 57,543 total flight cycles. The root cause of the cracks is identified as the braking loads, which introduce a high tension stress in the rear spar upper chord and skin between the main landing gear beam and the side-of-body for the rear spar chord. It was determined that the existing inspection programs are not sufficient to find such cracks before they grow to a critical length. The upper aft skin of both the left and right wings are subject to such cracking. This condition, if not corrected, could result in the inability of a principle structural element to sustain limit load, and consequent reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

Explanation of Applicability

This NPRM applies to all Model 737-100, -200, -200C, -300, -400, and -500 series airplanes, including some models that may have a limit of validity (LOV). Model 737 airplanes having line numbers 1 through 291 have an LOV of 34,000 total flight cycles, and the actions in this proposed AD, as specified in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1332, dated January 3, 2017, would be required at a compliance time occurring after reaching that LOV. Although operation of an airplane beyond its LOV is prohibited by 14 CFR 121.1115 and 129.115, this proposed AD would include those airplanes in the applicability so that those airplanes are tracked in the event the LOV is extended in the future.Start Printed Page 22620

Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

We reviewed Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1332, dated January 3, 2017. The service information describes procedures for repetitive detailed inspections of the upper aft skin of the wings for cracking. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section.

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 the same type design.

Proposed AD Requirements

This proposed AD would require accomplishing the actions specified in the service information described previously. For information on the procedures and compliance times, see this service information at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-0335.

Costs of Compliance

We estimate that this proposed AD affects 471 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
Repetitive inspections5 work-hours × $85 per hour = $425 per inspection cycle$0$425 per inspection cycle$200,175 per inspection cycle.

We have received no definitive data that would enable us to provide cost estimates for the on-condition actions specified in this proposed AD.

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.

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, the FAA proposes to amend 14 CFR part 39 as follows:

Start Part

PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES

End Part Start Amendment Part

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

End Amendment Part Start Authority

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

End Authority
[Amended]
Start Amendment Part

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

End Amendment Part

The Boeing Company: Docket No. FAA-2017-0335; Directorate Identifier 2017-NM-025-AD.

(a) Comments Due Date

We must receive comments by July 3, 2017.

(b) Affected ADs

None.

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to all The Boeing Company 737-100, -200, -200C, -300, -400, and -500 series airplanes, certificated in any category.

(d) Subject

Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 57; Wings.

(e) Unsafe Condition

This AD was prompted by a report of cracks in the upper aft skin of the right wing at certain fastener holes along the rear spar upper chord. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct cracks in the upper aft skin of the wings, which could result in the inability of a principle structural element to sustain limit load, and consequent reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

(f) Compliance

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

(g) Group 2 Airplanes: Detailed Inspections and Repair

For Group 2 airplanes identified in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1332, dated January 3, 2017: At the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1332, dated January 3, 2017, except as required by paragraph (i) of this AD, do a detailed inspection for cracking of the upper aft skin of the wings from wing buttock line (WBL) 80 to WBL 155, in accordance with Part 1 of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1332, dated January 3, 2017. If any cracking is found, repair before further flight in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (j) of this AD. Although Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1332, dated January 3, 2017, specifies to contact Boeing for repair instructions, and specifies that action as “RC” (Required for Compliance), this AD requires repair as specified in this paragraph. Repeat the inspection thereafter at the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1332, dated January 3, 2017.Start Printed Page 22621

(h) Group 1 Airplanes: Inspection and Corrective Action

For airplanes identified as Group 1 in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1332, dated January 3, 2017: Within 120 days after the effective date of this AD, inspect for cracking of the upper aft skin of the wings, and do all applicable corrective actions, using a method approved in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (j) of this AD.

(i) Exception to the Service Information

Where Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1332, dated January 3, 2017, specifies a compliance time “after the original issue date of this Service Bulletin,” this AD requires compliance within the specified compliance time after the effective date of this AD.

(j) 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 paragraph (k)(1) of this AD. Information may be emailed to: 9-ANM-LAACO-AMOC-Requests@faa.gov.

(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, modification, or alteration 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. To be approved, the repair method, modification deviation, or alteration deviation must meet the certification basis of the airplane, and the approval must specifically refer to this AD.

(4) Except as required by paragraph (g) of this AD: For service information that contains steps that are labeled as Required for Compliance (RC), the provisions of paragraphs (j)(4)(i) and (j)(4)(ii) of this AD apply.

(i) The steps labeled as RC, including substeps under an RC step and any figures identified in an RC step, must be done to comply with the AD. If a step or substep is labeled “RC Exempt,” then the RC requirement is removed from that step or substep. An AMOC is required for any deviations to RC steps, including substeps and identified figures.

(ii) Steps not labeled as RC may be deviated from using accepted methods in accordance with the operator's maintenance or inspection program without obtaining approval of an AMOC, provided the RC steps, including substeps and identified figures, can still be done as specified, and the airplane can be put back in an airworthy condition.

(k) Related Information

(1) For more information about this AD, contact Payman Soltani, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Branch, ANM-120L, FAA, Los Angeles Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), 3960 Paramount Boulevard, Lakewood, CA 90712-4137; phone: 562-627-5313; fax: 562-627-5210; email: payman.soltani@faa.gov.

(2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Contractual & Data Services (C&DS), 2600 Westminster Blvd., MC 110-SK57, Seal Beach, CA 90740; telephone 562-797-1717; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this 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.

Start Signature

Issued in Renton, Washington, on May 8, 2017.

Michael Kaszycki,

Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2017-09848 Filed 5-16-17; 8:45 am]

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