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Airworthiness Directives; Airbus SAS Airplanes

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The FAA is adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all Airbus SAS Model A318 series airplanes; A319-111, -112, -113, -114, -115, -131, -132, and -133 airplanes; A320-211, -212, -214, -216, -231, -232, -233, -251N, -252N and -271N airplanes; and A321 series airplanes. This AD was prompted by a determination that new or more restrictive airworthiness limitations are necessary. This AD requires revising the existing maintenance or inspection program, as applicable, to incorporate new or more restrictive airworthiness limitations. The FAA is issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.

DATES:

This AD is effective January 9, 2020.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of January 9, 2020.

ADDRESSES:

For service information identified in this final rule, contact Airbus SAS, Airworthiness Office—EIAS, Rond-Point Emile Dewoitine No: 2, 31700 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 view this service information at the FAA, Transport Standards Branch, 2200 South 216th St., Des Moines, WA. For Start Printed Page 66580information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 206-231-3195. It is also available on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2019-0321.

Examining the AD Docket

You may examine the AD docket on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2019-0321; or in person at Docket Operations between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this final rule, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The address for Docket Operations is U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Sanjay Ralhan, Aerospace Engineer, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, FAA, 2200 South 216th St., Des Moines, WA 98198; telephone and fax 206-231-3223.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Discussion

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA AD 2018-0288, dated December 21, 2018 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for all Airbus SAS Model A318, A319, A320 and A321 series airplanes. Model A320-215 airplanes are not certified by the FAA and are not included on the U.S. type certificate data sheet; this AD therefore does not include those airplanes in the applicability. You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2019-0321.

The FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 by adding an AD that would apply to all Airbus SAS Model A318 series airplanes; A319-111, -112, -113, -114, -115, -131, -132, and -133 airplanes; A320-211, -212, -214, -216, -231, -232, -233, -251N, -252N and -271N airplanes; and A321 series airplanes. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on May 9, 2019 (84 FR 20303). The NPRM was prompted by a determination that new or more restrictive airworthiness limitations are necessary. The NPRM proposed to require revising the existing maintenance or inspection program, as applicable, to incorporate new or more restrictive airworthiness limitations. The FAA is issuing this AD to address fatigue cracking, accidental damage, or corrosion in principal structural elements, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the airplane. See the MCAI for additional background information.

Comments

The FAA gave the public the opportunity to participate in developing this final rule. The following presents the comments received on the NPRM and the FAA's response to each comment. Delta Airlines (DAL) stated that it supports the NPRM.

Request for a Reporting Requirement

DAL requested that we add a reporting requirement to the proposed AD. DAL recommended that the proposed AD state that all crack findings, along with corrective actions performed, be reported to Airbus via the Airbus Tech Request system within 30 days. DAL commented that the philosophy of the fatigue-related inspections is that they are in places where cracking might be found in the future, and if cracking is found, then the task in Airbus A318/A319/A320/A321 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS) Part 2—Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI), Revision 07, dated June 13, 2018, will be removed and become its own service information and AD; therefore, mandatory reporting must be part of this process. DAL also stated that they could not locate information regarding where to submit reports and the timeframe for reporting.

The FAA would like to clarify the intent of the referenced damage-tolerant task in Airbus A318/A319/A320/A321 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS) Part 2—Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI), Revision 07, dated June 13, 2018. Unlike airplanes that follow a Supplemental Structural Inspection Program that requires reporting (those with an older certification basis that does not include damage tolerance criteria), the airplanes specified in paragraph (c) of this AD comply with 14 CFR 25.571 damage tolerance criteria. Section 25.571 requires applicants to evaluate all structures that could contribute to catastrophic failure of the airplane with respect to its susceptibility to fatigue cracking, corrosion, and accidental damage. Applicants must establish inspections or other procedures (also referred to as maintenance actions) as necessary to avoid catastrophic failure during the operational life of the airplane based on the results of these evaluations. It is intended that all maintenance actions required to address fatigue cracking, corrosion, and accidental damage are identified in the structural-maintenance program. All inspections and other procedures (e.g., modification times, replacement times) that are necessary to prevent a catastrophic failure due to fatigue are included in the Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS) of the Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA), as required by 14 CFR 25.1529. Therefore, reporting is not needed to comply with this AD.

FAA Advisory Circular 25.571-1D provides guidance for compliance with the provisions of 14 CFR 25.571, pertaining to the requirements for damage-tolerance and fatigue evaluation of transport category aircraft structure, and may be referenced for further information.

While airplane manufacturers may benefit from receiving information from the outcome of the ALI inspections, the EASA did not make reporting a requirement in EASA AD 2018-0288. The FAA concurs with the EASA, and therefore, this AD does not include a reporting requirement. However, operators may report the findings, as an option, to Airbus as specified in paragraph 6., “Reporting,” of Section 1 of Airbus A318/A319/A320/A321 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS) Part 2—Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI), Revision 07, dated June 13, 2018, that indicates reports should be sent to MPDtask.Reports@airbus.com. This AD has not been changed in this regard.

Request To Add an Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOC)

Airbus requested that AIR-676-19-235, dated June 3, 2019, which is an AMOC for paragraphs (g) and (l)(2)(i) of AD 2018-25-02, Amendment 39-19513 (83 FR 62690, December 6, 2018), be allowed as an AMOC for the requirements of paragraph (j) of the proposed AD.

The FAA agrees with the commenter's request. The agency finds that the provisions of AMOC AIR-676-19-235, which is limited to certain airplanes, are acceptable for all corresponding provisions of this AD. Therefore, the FAA has added paragraph (j)(1)(iii) to this AD to allow AIR-676-19-235, dated June 3, 2019, as an acceptable method of compliance for the corresponding provisions of this AD.Start Printed Page 66581

Changes Made to This Final Rule

The FAA has determined that Airbus SAS Model A320-252N airplanes were inadvertently omitted from the Applicability of the proposed AD. Therefore, the FAA has updated paragraph (c)(3) of this AD to add those airplanes. Since there are currently no domestic operators of this product, additional notice and opportunity for public comment before issuing this AD are unnecessary.

Conclusion

The FAA reviewed the relevant data, considered the comments received, and determined that air safety and the public interest require adopting this final rule with the change described previously and minor editorial changes. The FAA has determined that these minor changes:

  • Are consistent with the intent that was proposed in the NPRM for addressing the unsafe condition; and
  • Do not add any additional burden upon the public than was already proposed in the NPRM.

The FAA also determined that these changes will not increase the economic burden on any operator or increase the scope of this final rule.

Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

Airbus has issued Airbus A318/A319/A320/A321 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS) Part 2—Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI), Revision 07, dated June 13, 2018. This service information describes damage tolerant airworthiness limitations. 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.

Costs of Compliance

The FAA estimates that this AD affects 1,463 airplanes of U.S. registry. The FAA estimates the following costs to comply with this AD:

The FAA has determined that revising the existing maintenance or inspection program takes an average of 90 work-hours per operator, although the agency recognizes that this number may vary from operator to operator. In the past, the FAA has estimated that this action takes 1 work-hour per airplane. Since operators incorporate maintenance or inspection program changes for their affected fleet(s), the FAA has determined that a per-operator estimate is more accurate than a per-airplane estimate. Therefore, the FAA estimates the total cost per operator to be $7,650 (90 work-hours × $85 per work-hour).

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.

The FAA is 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.

This AD is issued in accordance with authority delegated by the Executive Director, Aircraft Certification Service, as authorized by FAA Order 8000.51C. In accordance with that order, issuance of ADs is normally a function of the Compliance and Airworthiness Division, but during this transition period, the Executive Director has delegated the authority to issue ADs applicable to transport category airplanes and associated appliances to the Director of the System Oversight Division.

Regulatory Findings

This AD will not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132. This AD will 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 that this AD:

(1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866,

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

(3) 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

Adoption of the Amendment

Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the FAA amends 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

2019-23-01 Airbus SAS: Amendment 39-19794; Docket No. FAA-2019-0321; Product Identifier 2019-NM-013-AD.

(a) Effective Date

This AD is effective January 9, 2020.

(b) Affected ADs

This AD affects AD 2018-25-02, Amendment 39-19513 (83 FR 62690, December 6, 2018) (“AD 2018-25-02”).

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to Airbus SAS airplanes identified in paragraphs (c)(1) through (4) of this AD, certificated in any category, with an original certificate of airworthiness or original export certificate of airworthiness issued on or before June 13, 2018.

(1) Model A318-111, -112, -121, and -122 airplanes.

(2) Model A319-111, -112, -113, -114, -115, -131, -132, and -133 airplanes.

(3) Model A320-211, -212, -214, -216, -231, -232, -233, -251N, -252N and -271N airplanes.

(4) Model A321-111, -112, -131, -211, -212, -213, -231, -232, -251N, -251NX, -252N, -252NX, -253N, -253NX, -271N, -271NX, -272N, and -272NX airplanes.

(d) Subject

Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 05, Time Limits/Maintenance Checks.

(e) Reason

This AD was prompted by a determination that new or more restrictive airworthiness limitations are necessary. The FAA is issuing this AD to address fatigue cracking, accidental damage, or corrosion in principal structural elements, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

(f) Compliance

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

(g) Maintenance or Inspection Program Revision

Within 90 days after the effective date of this AD, revise the existing maintenance or inspection program, as applicable, to incorporate the information specified in Airbus A318/A319/A320/A321 Start Printed Page 66582Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS) Part 2-Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI), Revision 07, dated June 13, 2018. The initial compliance time for doing the tasks is at the time specified in Airbus A318/A319/A320/A321 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS) Part 2-Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI), Revision 07, dated June 13, 2018, or within 90 days after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs later.

(h) No Alternative Actions or Intervals

After the existing maintenance or inspection program has been revised as required by paragraph (g) of this AD, no alternative actions (e.g., inspections) or intervals may be used unless the actions or intervals are approved as an alternative method of compliance (AMOC) in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (j)(1) of this AD.

(i) Terminating Action for AD 2018-25-02

Accomplishing the actions required by this AD terminates all requirements of AD 2018-25-02.

(j) Other FAA AD Provisions

The following provisions also apply to this AD:

(1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, 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 International Section, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (k)(2) of this AD. Information may be emailed to: 9-ANM-116-AMOC-REQUESTS@faa.gov.

(i) 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.

(ii) AMOCs approved previously for AD 2018-25-02 are approved as AMOCs for the corresponding provisions of this AD, provided there is no change in description, threshold and interval of the applicable tasks.

(iii) AMOC AIR-676-19-235, dated June 3, 2019, is approved as an AMOC for the corresponding provisions of this AD.

(2) Contacting the Manufacturer: For any requirement in this AD to obtain corrective actions from a manufacturer, the action must be accomplished using a method approved by the Manager, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); or Airbus SAS's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA). If approved by the DOA, the approval must include the DOA-authorized signature.

(k) Related Information

(1) Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) EASA Airworthiness Directive 2018-0288, dated December 21, 2018, for related information. This MCAI may be found in the AD docket on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2019-0321.

(2) For more information about this AD, contact Sanjay Ralhan, Aerospace Engineer, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, FAA, 2200 South 216th St., Des Moines, WA 98198; telephone and fax 206-231-3223.

(l) Material Incorporated by Reference

(1) The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference (IBR) of the service information listed in this paragraph under 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51.

(2) You must use this service information as applicable to do the actions required by this AD, unless this AD specifies otherwise.

(i) Airbus A318/A319/A320/A321 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS) Part 2-Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI), Revision 07, dated June 13, 2018.

(ii) [Reserved]

(3) For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus SAS, Airworthiness Office—EIAS, Rond-Point Emile Dewoitine No: 2, 31700 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.

(4) You may view this service information at the FAA, Transport Standards Branch, 2200 South 216th St., Des Moines, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 206-231-3195.

(5) You may view this service information that is incorporated by reference at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to: https://www.archives.gov/​federal-register/​cfr/​ibr-locations.html.

Start Signature

Issued in Des Moines, Washington, on November 7, 2019.

Michael Kaszycki,

Acting Director, System Oversight Division, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2019-26231 Filed 12-4-19; 8:45 am]

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