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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 737-100, -200, -200C, -300, -400, and -500 series airplanes. This AD was prompted by a report of a fuel leak resulting from a crack on the left in-spar upper wing skin. This AD requires repetitive surface high frequency eddy current (HFEC) inspections of the left and right upper wing skin for any crack, repetitive general visual inspections of the upper wing skin in the adjacent rib bay areas for any crack, and applicable on-condition actions. The FAA is issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.

DATES:

This AD is effective February 3, 2020.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of February 3, 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; phone: 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-2019-0487.

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-2019-0487; 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:

Payman Soltani, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Section, FAA, Los Angeles ACO Branch, 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:

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 737-100, -200, -200C, -300, -400, and -500 series airplanes. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on July 8, 2019 (84 FR 32343). The NPRM was prompted by a report of a fuel leak resulting from a crack on the left in-spar upper wing skin. The NPRM proposed to require repetitive HFEC inspections of the left and right upper wing skin for any crack, repetitive general visual inspections of the upper wing skin in the adjacent rib bay areas for any crack, and applicable on-condition actions.

The FAA is issuing this AD to address cracks in the upper wing skin, which could grow undetected. This condition, if not addressed, could result in the inability of the structure to carry limit load and adversely affect the structural integrity of the airplane.

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 NPRM.

Effect of Winglets on Accomplishment of the Proposed Actions

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

The FAA concurs with the commenter. The FAA has redesignated paragraph (c) of the proposed AD as paragraph (c)(1) of this AD and added paragraph (c)(2) 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 Later Revisions to the Service Information

John Straiton requested that the FAA revise the proposed AD to allow the use of later revisions to the service information. The commenter pointed out that allowing the use of later revisions would make it easier for the operator to ensure compliance and that all maintenance is certified to the latest maintenance data. The commenter also mentioned that allowing the use of later revisions would make it unnecessary for operators to wait for new ADs that include the latest revisions to the service information, or for operators to request an AMOC that allows the use of the latest revisions to the service information. The commenter stated that this would reduce the delay in implementation of the latest revisions to the service information and also reduce the maintenance costs associated with the issuance of AMOCs. The commenter also pointed out that the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) incorporates similar language in its ADs.

The FAA disagrees with the request to allow later revisions to 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 document 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.Start Printed Page 71777

To allow operators to use later revisions of the referenced document (issued after publication of the AD), either the FAA must revise the AD to reference specific later revisions, or operators must request approval to use later revisions as an alternative method of compliance with this AD under the provisions of paragraph (j) of this AD.

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.

We 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 Requirements Bulletin 737-57A1344 RB, dated February 18, 2019. This service information describes procedures for repetitive surface HFEC inspections of the left and right upper wing skin at wing buttock line 157, between stringer 4 and stringer 5 for any crack; repetitive general visual inspections of the upper wing skin in the adjacent rib bay areas for any crack; and applicable on-condition actions. On-condition actions include repair.

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 160 airplanes of U.S. registry. The agency estimates the following costs to comply with this AD:

Estimated Costs for Required Actions

ActionLabor costParts costCost per productCost on U.S. operators
HFEC Inspection and General Visual Inspection1 work-hour × $85 per hour = $85 per inspection cycle$0$85 per inspection cycle$13,600 per inspection cycle.

The FAA has received no definitive data that would enable the agency to provide cost estimates for the on-condition repair specified in this 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.

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 Start Amendment Part

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

End Amendment Part

2019-23-16 The Boeing Company: Amendment 39-19810; Docket No. FAA-2019-0487; Product Identifier 2019-NM-044-AD.

(a) Effective Date

This AD is effective February 3, 2020.

(b) Affected ADs

None.

(c) Applicability

(1) This AD applies to all The Boeing Company Model 737-100, -200, -200C, -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 a report of a fuel leak resulting from a crack on the left in-spar Start Printed Page 71778upper wing skin. The FAA is issuing this AD to address cracks in the upper wing skin, which could grow undetected. This condition, if not addressed, could result in the inability of the structure to carry limit load and adversely affect the structural integrity of the airplane.

(f) Compliance

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

(g) Required Actions for Group 1 Airplanes

For airplanes identified as Group 1 in Boeing Alert Requirements Bulletin 737-57A1344 RB, dated February 18, 2019: Within 120 days after the effective date of this AD, do a surface high frequency eddy current (HFEC) inspection of the left and right upper wing skin and a general visual inspection of the upper wing skin in the adjacent rib bay areas for any crack, and do applicable on-condition actions, using a method approved in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (j) of this AD.

(h) Required Actions for Groups 2 and 3 Airplanes

Except as specified by paragraph (i) of this AD: At the applicable times specified in the “Compliance” paragraph of Boeing Alert Requirements Bulletin 737-57A1344 RB, dated February 18, 2019, do all applicable actions identified in, and in accordance with, the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Requirements Bulletin 737-57A1344 RB, dated February 18, 2019.

Note 1 to paragraph (h):

Guidance for accomplishing the actions required by this AD can be found in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-57A1344, dated February 18, 2019, which is referred to in Boeing Alert Requirements Bulletin 737-57A1344 RB, dated February 18, 2019.

(i) Exceptions to Service Information Specifications

(1) Where Boeing Alert Requirements Bulletin 737-57A1344 RB, dated February 18, 2019, uses the phrase “the original issue date of Requirements Bulletin 737-57A1344 RB,” this AD requires using “the effective date of this AD.”

(2) Where Boeing Alert Requirements Bulletin 737-57A1344 RB, dated February 18, 2019, specifies contacting Boeing for repair instructions: This AD requires doing the repair using a method approved in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (j) of this AD.

(j) 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 (k) 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 inspection, 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 inspection, repair method, modification deviation, or alteration deviation must meet the certification basis of the airplane, and the approval must specifically refer to this AD.

(k) Related Information

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

(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 the AD specifies otherwise.

(i) Boeing Alert Requirements Bulletin 737-57A1344 RB, dated February 18, 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; phone: 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://www.archives.gov/​federal-register/​cfr/​ibr-locations.html.

Start Signature

Issued in Des Moines, Washington, on December 5, 2019.

Michael Kaszycki,

Acting Director, System Oversight Division, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2019-28066 Filed 12-27-19; 8:45 am]

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