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Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The FAA is adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all The Boeing Company Model 737-300, -400, and -500 series airplanes. This AD was prompted by fuel system reviews conducted by the manufacturer. This AD requires applying sealant to the fasteners in the fuel tanks, replacing wire bundle clamps external to the fuel tanks, and installing Teflon sleeving under the clamps. The FAA is issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.

DATES:

This AD is effective January 13, 2020.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of January 13, 2020.

ADDRESSES:

For service information identified in this final rule, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Contractual & Data Services (C&DS), 2600 Westminster Blvd., MC 110-SK57, Seal Beach, CA 90740-5600; telephone 562-797-1717; internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. 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. It is also available on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2019-0440.

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-2019-0440; 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:

Serj Harutunian, Aerospace Engineer, Propulsion Section, FAA, Los Angeles ACO Branch, 3960 Paramount Boulevard, Lakewood, CA 90712-4137; phone: 562-627-5254; fax: 562-627-5210; email: serj.harutunian@faa.gov.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Discussion

The FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 by adding an AD that would apply to all The Boeing Company Model 737-300, -400, and -500 series airplanes. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on June 25, 2019 (84 FR 29815). The NPRM was prompted by fuel system reviews conducted by the manufacturer as required by Special Federal Aviation Regulation No. 88 (“SFAR 88”) to 14 CFR part 21, to ensure their fuel tank systems can prevent potential ignition sources. Subsequently, SFAR 88 was amended by: Amendment 21-82 (67 FR 57490, September 10, 2002; corrected at 67 FR 70809, November 26, 2002), Amendment 21-83 (67 FR 72830, December 9, 2002; corrected at 68 FR 37735, June 25, 2003, to change “21-82” to “21-83”), and Amendment 21-101 (83 FR 9162, March 5, 2018). The NPRM proposed to require applying sealant to the fasteners in the fuel tanks, replacing wire bundle clamps external to the fuel tanks, and installing Teflon sleeving under the clamps.

The FAA is issuing this AD to address potential ignition sources inside the fuel tank, which, in combination with flammable vapors, could result in a fuel tank fire or explosion, and consequent loss of the airplane.Start Printed Page 67177

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.

Support for the NPRM

Boeing concurred with the content of the NPRM.

Effect of Winglets on Accomplishment of the Proposed Actions

Aviation Partners Boeing stated that accomplishing Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) ST01219SE does not affect compliance with the proposed actions.

The FAA agrees with the commenter. Paragraph (c) of the proposed AD has been redesignated as paragraph (c)(1) of this AD, and paragraph (c)(2) has been added to this AD to state that installation of STC ST01219SE does not affect the ability to accomplish the actions required by this AD. Therefore, for airplanes on which STC ST01219SE is installed, a “change in product” alternative method of compliance (AMOC) approval request is not necessary to comply with the requirements of 14 CFR 39.17.

Request To Allow the Use of Later Revisions of Service Information

Commenter John Straiton asked that the FAA include a statement in the compliance requirements of the proposed AD allowing the use of later revisions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1321, dated February 8, 2019. The commenter stated that adding this statement would ensure that operators are promptly in compliance with their obligation to ensure that all maintenance is certified to the latest approved version of the maintenance data. The commenter also stated that adding this statement will also remove the requirement to wait for the AD to be revised to reflect the revision in the service information, and to contact the appropriate original equipment manufacturer or STC holder to issue an AMOC to approve the use of the revised service information. The commenter noted that this would reduce the delay in implementing the revision and would reduce the maintenance costs associated with the issuance of an AMOC. The commenter concluded that the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, already incorporates the “or later revision” statement in any AD issued by them, so this will demonstrate a further harmonization of regulatory control.

The FAA does not agree with the commenter's request to allow the use of later revisions of the service information. The FAA may not refer to any document that does not yet exist in an AD. In general terms, the FAA is required by Office of the Federal Register (OFR) regulations for approval of materials incorporated by reference, as specified in 1 CFR 51.1(f), to either publish the service document contents as part of the actual AD language; or submit the service documents to the OFR for approval as referenced material, in which case the FAA may only refer to such material in the text of an AD. The AD may refer to the service document only if the OFR approved it for incorporation by reference. See 1 CFR part 51. To allow operators to use later revisions of the referenced document (issued after publication of the final rule), either the FAA must revise the AD to reference specific later revisions, or operators must request approval to use later revisions as an AMOC to this AD under the provisions of paragraph (i)(1) of this AD. The FAA has not revised this AD regarding this issue.

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 changes 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

The FAA reviewed Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1321, dated February 8, 2019. This service information describes procedures for applying sealant to the fasteners in the fuel tanks at the wing rear spars, front spars, and upper wing rib shear ties. This service information also describes procedures for replacing wire bundle clamps external to the fuel tanks and installing Teflon sleeving under the clamps at locations along the wing rear spars, front spars, forward cargo compartment station 540 bulkhead, and main wheel well station 663 bulkhead. 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 268 airplanes of U.S. registry. The FAA estimates the following costs to comply with this AD:

Estimated Costs

ActionLabor costParts costCost per productCost on U.S. operators
Apply sealant, replace clamps, install Teflon sleevingUp to 516 work-hours × $85 per hour = $43,860Up to $200Up to $44,060Up to $11,808,080.

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, Start Printed Page 67178as 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

2019-23-12 The Boeing Company: Amendment 39-19806; Docket No. FAA-2019-0440; Product Identifier 2019-NM-032-AD.

(a) Effective Date

This AD is effective January 13, 2020.

(b) Affected ADs

None.

(c) Applicability

(1) This AD applies to all The Boeing Company Model 737-300, -400, and -500 series airplanes, certificated in any category.

(2) Installation of Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) ST01219SE does not affect the ability to accomplish the actions required by this AD. Therefore, for airplanes on which STC ST01219SE is installed, a “change in product” alternative method of compliance (AMOC) approval request is not necessary to comply with the requirements of 14 CFR 39.17.

(d) Subject

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

(e) Unsafe Condition

This AD was prompted by fuel system reviews conducted by the manufacturer to ensure their fuel tank systems can prevent potential ignition sources. The FAA is issuing this AD to address potential ignition sources inside the fuel tank, which, in combination with flammable vapors, could result in a fuel tank fire or explosion, and consequent loss of the airplane.

(f) Compliance

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

(g) Apply Sealant, Replace Clamps, and Install Teflon Sleeving

Except as specified in paragraph (h) of this AD: At the applicable times specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1321, dated February 8, 2019, do all applicable actions identified as “RC” (required for compliance) in, and in accordance with, the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1321, dated February 8, 2019.

(h) Exceptions to Service Information Specifications

(1) For purposes of determining compliance with the requirements of this AD: Where Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1321, dated February 8, 2019, uses the phrase “the original issue date of this service bulletin,” this AD requires using “the effective date of this AD.”

(2) Where Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1321, dated February 8, 2019, specifies contacting Boeing: This AD requires doing actions using a method approved in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (i) of this AD.

(i) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

(1) The Manager, Los Angeles ACO 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 manager of the certification office, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (j) 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 Company Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) that has been authorized by the Manager, Los Angeles ACO Branch, FAA, 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 specified by paragraph (h)(2) of this AD: For service information that contains steps that are labeled as Required for Compliance (RC), the provisions of paragraphs (i)(4)(i) and (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.

(j) Related Information

For more information about this AD, contact Serj Harutunian, Aerospace Engineer, Propulsion Section, FAA, Los Angeles ACO Branch, 3960 Paramount Boulevard, Lakewood, CA 90712-4137; phone: 562-627-5254; fax: 562-627-5210; email: serj.harutunian@faa.gov.

(k) 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 the AD specifies otherwise.

(i) Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1321, dated February 8, 2019.

(ii) [Reserved]

(3) 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 90740-5600; telephone 562-797-1717; internet https://www.myboeingfleet.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, email fedreg.legal@nara.gov, or go to: https://Start Printed Page 67179www.archives.gov/​federal-register/​cfr/​ibr-locations.html.

Start Signature

Issued in Des Moines, Washington, on November 18, 2019.

Michael Kaszycki,

Acting Director, System Oversight Division, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2019-26399 Filed 12-6-19; 8:45 am]

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