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Special Conditions: Airbus Defense and Space Model No. C-295 Airplane; Non-Rechargeable Lithium Batteries

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final special conditions; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

These special conditions are issued for the Airbus Defense and Space (Airbus) Model C-295 airplane. This airplane will have novel or unusual design features when compared to the state of technology envisioned in the airworthiness standards for transport category airplanes. The Airbus Model C-295 airplane will have non-rechargeable lithium battery installations. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for this design feature. These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

DATES:

This action is effective on Airbus on January 7, 2020. Send comments on or before February 21, 2020.

ADDRESSES:

Send comments identified by Docket No. FAA-2019-1103 using any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRegulations Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/​ and follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically.
  • Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M-30, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
  • Hand Delivery or Courier: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
  • Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at 202-493-2251.

Privacy: The FAA will post all comments it receives, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov/​, including any personal information the commenter provides. Using the search function of the docket website, anyone can find and read the electronic form of all comments received into any FAA docket, including the name of the individual sending the comment (or signing the comment for an association, business, labor union, etc.). DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement can be found in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-19478).

Docket: Background documents or comments received may be read at http://www.regulations.gov/​ at any time. Follow the online instructions for accessing the docket or go to Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Nazih Khaouly, Airplane and Flight Crew Interface Section, AIR-671, Transport Standards Branch, Policy and Innovation Division, Aircraft Certification Service, Federal Aviation Administration, 2200 South 216th Street, Des Moines, Washington 98198; telephone and fax 206-231-3160; email Nazih.Khaouly@faa.gov.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Emergency Locator Transmitters on Airplanes Operating in Alaska

Section 1205 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 1996 requires the FAA to consider the extent to which Alaska is not served by transportation modes other than aviation and to establish appropriate regulatory distinctions when modifying airworthiness regulations that affect intrastate aviation in Alaska. In consideration of this requirement and the overall impact on safety, the FAA does not intend to require non-rechargeable lithium battery special conditions for design changes that only replace a 121.5 megahertz (MHz) emergency locator transmitter (ELT) with a 406 MHz ELT that meets Technical Standard Order C126b, or later revision, on transport airplanes operating only in Alaska. This will support our efforts of encouraging operators in Alaska to upgrade to a 406 MHz ELT. These ELTs provide significantly improved accuracy for lifesaving services to locate an accident site in Alaskan terrain. The FAA considers that the safety benefits from upgrading to a 406 MHz ELT for Start Printed Page 641Alaskan operations will outweigh the battery fire risk.

Comments Invited

The substance of these special conditions has been published in the Federal Register for public comment in several prior instances with no substantive comments received. Therefore, the FAA has determined that prior public notice and comment are unnecessary, and finds that, for the same reason, good cause exists for adopting these special conditions upon publication in the Federal Register.

The FAA invites interested people to take part in this rulemaking by sending written comments, data, or views. The most helpful comments reference a specific portion of the special conditions, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include supporting data.

The FAA will consider all comments received by the closing date for comments. The FAA may change these special conditions based on the comments received.

Background

On September 19, 2014, Airbus applied to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for a change to EASA Type Certificate No. EASA.A.186 to install non-rechargeable lithium batteries in the Airbus Model C-295 airplane. On December 18, 2018, EASA forwarded an Airbus application to the FAA to validate this same change in the Model C-295 airplane for FAA Type Certificate No. A21NM. On November 22, 2019, Airbus filed for an extension to their original EASA application, which resulted in an agreement that December 20, 2014 be the new application date. The Airbus Model C-295 airplane is a twin engine, transport category airplane configured for freighter use, with a maximum takeoff weight of 46,300 pounds.

The FAA is issuing these special conditions for non-rechargeable lithium battery installations on the Airbus Model C-295 airplane. The current battery requirements in title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 25 are inadequate for addressing an airplane with non-rechargeable lithium batteries.

Type Certification Basis

Under the provisions of 14 CFR 21.101, Airbus must show that the Model C-295 airplane, as changed, continues to meet the applicable provisions of the regulations listed in Type Certificate No. A21NM, or the applicable regulations in effect on the date of application for the change, except for earlier amendments as agreed upon by the FAA.

If the Administrator finds that the applicable airworthiness regulations (e.g., 14 CFR part 25) do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for the Airbus Model C-295 airplane because of a novel or unusual design feature, special conditions are prescribed under the provisions of § 21.16.

Special conditions are initially applicable to the model for which they are issued. Should the type certificate for that model be amended later to include any other model that incorporates the same novel or unusual design feature, or should any other model already included on the same type certificate be modified to incorporate the same novel or unusual design feature, these special conditions would also apply to the other model under § 21.101.

In addition to the applicable airworthiness regulations and special conditions, the Airbus Model C-295 airplane must comply with the fuel vent and exhaust emission requirements of 14 CFR part 34, and the noise certification requirements of 14 CFR part 36.

The FAA issues special conditions, as defined in 14 CFR 11.19, in accordance with § 11.38, and they become part of the type certification basis under § 21.101.

Novel or Unusual Design Features

The Airbus Model C-295 airplane will incorporate the following novel or unusual design features:

The Airbus C-295 airplane will have non-rechargeable lithium battery installations.

Discussion

The FAA derived the current regulations governing installation of batteries in transport category airplanes from Civil Air Regulations (CAR) 4b.625(d) as part of the recodification of CAR 4b that established 14 CFR part 25 in February 1965. This recodification basically reworded the CAR 4b battery requirements, which are currently in § 25.1353(b)(1) through (4). Non-rechargeable lithium batteries are novel and unusual with respect to the state of technology considered when these requirements were codified. These batteries introduce higher energy levels into airplane systems through new chemical compositions in various battery cell sizes and construction. Interconnection of these cells in battery packs introduces failure modes that require unique design considerations, such as provisions for thermal management.

Recent events involving rechargeable and non-rechargeable lithium batteries prompted the FAA to initiate a broad evaluation of these energy storage technologies. In January 2013, two independent events involving rechargeable lithium-ion batteries revealed unanticipated failure modes. A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) letter to the FAA, dated May 22, 2014, which is available at http://www.ntsb.gov, filename A-14-032-036.pdf, describes these events.

On July 12, 2013, an event involving a non-rechargeable lithium battery in an ELT installation demonstrated unanticipated failure modes. The United Kingdom's Air Accidents Investigation Branch Bulletin S5/2013 describes this event.

Some known uses of rechargeable and non-rechargeable lithium batteries on airplanes include:

  • Flight deck and avionics systems such as displays, global positioning systems, cockpit voice recorders, flight data recorders, underwater locator beacons, navigation computers, integrated avionics computers, satellite network and communication systems, communication management units, and remote-monitor electronic line-replaceable units;
  • Cabin safety, entertainment, and communications equipment, including emergency locator transmitters, life rafts, escape slides, seatbelt air bags, cabin management systems, Ethernet switches, routers and media servers, wireless systems, internet and in-flight entertainment systems, satellite televisions, remotes, and handsets;
  • Systems in cargo areas including door controls, sensors, video surveillance equipment, and security systems.

Some known potential hazards and failure modes associated with non-rechargeable lithium batteries are:

  • Internal failures: In general, these batteries are significantly more susceptible to internal failures that can result in self-sustaining increases in temperature and pressure (i.e., thermal runaway) than their nickel-cadmium or lead-acid counterparts. The metallic lithium can ignite, resulting in a self-sustaining fire or explosion.
  • Fast or imbalanced discharging: Fast discharging or an imbalanced discharge of one cell of a multi-cell battery may create an overheating condition that results in an uncontrollable venting condition, which in turn leads to a thermal event or an explosion.Start Printed Page 642
  • Flammability: Unlike nickel-cadmium and lead-acid batteries, lithium batteries use higher energy and current in an electrochemical system that can be configured to maximize energy storage of lithium. They also use liquid electrolytes that can be extremely flammable. The electrolyte, as well as the electrodes, can serve as a source of fuel for an external fire if the battery casing is breached.

Special condition no. 1 of these special conditions requires that each individual cell within a non-rechargeable lithium battery be designed to maintain safe temperatures and pressures. Special condition no. 2 addresses these same issues but for the entire battery. Special condition no. 2 also requires the battery be designed to prevent propagation of a thermal event, such as self-sustained, uncontrollable increases in temperature or pressure from one cell to adjacent cells.

Special condition nos. 1 and 2 are intended to ensure that the non-rechargeable lithium battery and its cells are designed to eliminate the potential for uncontrollable failures. However, a certain number of failures will occur due to various factors beyond the control of the battery designer. Therefore, other special conditions are intended to protect the airplane and its occupants if failure occurs.

Special condition nos. 3, 7, and 8 are self-explanatory.

Special condition no. 4 makes it clear that the flammable-fluid fire protection requirements of § 25.863 apply to non-rechargeable lithium battery installations. Section 25.863 is applicable to areas of the airplane that could be exposed to flammable fluid leakage from airplane systems. Non-rechargeable lithium batteries contain an electrolyte that is a flammable fluid.

Special condition no. 5 requires that each non-rechargeable lithium battery installation not damage surrounding structure or adjacent systems, equipment, or electrical wiring from corrosive fluids or gases that may escape in such a way as to cause a major or more-severe failure condition.

While special condition no. 5 addresses corrosive fluids and gases, special condition no. 6 addresses heat. Special condition no. 6 requires that each non-rechargeable lithium battery installation have provisions to prevent any hazardous effect on airplane structure or systems caused by the maximum amount of heat the battery installation can generate, due to any failure of it or its individual cells. The means of meeting special condition nos. 5 and 6 may be the same, but the requirements are independent and address different hazards.

These special conditions apply to all non-rechargeable lithium battery installations in lieu of § 25.1353(b)(1) through (4) at Amendment 25-123, or §  25.1353(c)(1) through (4) at earlier amendments. Those regulations remain in effect for other battery installations.

These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

Applicability

As discussed above, these special conditions are applicable to the Airbus Model C-295 airplane. Should Airbus apply at a later date for a change to the type certificate to include another model incorporating the same novel or unusual design feature, these special conditions would apply to that model as well.

These special conditions are not applicable to changes to previously certified non-rechargeable lithium battery installations where the only change is either cosmetic or to relocate the installation to improve the safety of the airplane and occupants. Previously certified non-rechargeable lithium battery installations, as used in this paragraph, are those installations approved for certification projects applied for on or before the effective date of these special conditions. A cosmetic change is a change in appearance only, and does not change any function or safety characteristic of the battery installation. These special conditions are also not applicable to unchanged, previously certified non-rechargeable lithium battery installations that are affected by a change in a manner that improves the safety of its installation. The FAA determined that these exclusions are in the public interest because the need to meet all of the special conditions might otherwise deter these design changes that improve safety.

Conclusion

This action affects only certain novel or unusual design features on one model of airplane. It is not a rule of general applicability.

Start List of Subjects

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 25

  • Aircraft
  • Aviation safety
  • Reporting and recordkeeping requirements
End List of Subjects

Authority Citation

The authority citation for these special conditions is as follows:

Start Authority

Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g), 40113, 44701, 44702, 44704.

End Authority

The Special Conditions

Start Amendment Part

Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the following special conditions are issued as part of the type certification basis for Airbus Defense and Space Model C-295 airplanes.

End Amendment Part

Non-Rechargeable Lithium Battery Installations

In lieu of §  25.1353(b)(1) through (4) at Amendment 25-123, or §  25.1353(c)(1) through (4) at earlier amendments, each non-rechargeable lithium battery installation must:

1. Be designed to maintain safe cell temperatures and pressures under all foreseeable operating conditions to prevent fire and explosion.

2. Be designed to prevent the occurrence of self-sustaining, uncontrollable increases in temperature or pressure.

3. Not emit explosive or toxic gases, either in normal operation or as a result of its failure that may accumulate in hazardous quantities within the airplane.

4. Meet the requirements of § 25.863.

5. Not damage surrounding structure or adjacent systems, equipment, or electrical wiring from corrosive fluids or gases that may escape in such a way as to cause a major or more-severe failure condition.

6. Have provisions to prevent any hazardous effect on airplane structure or systems caused by the maximum amount of heat it can generate due to any failure of it or its individual cells.

7. Have a failure-sensing and warning system to alert the flightcrew if its failure affects safe operation of the airplane.

8. Have a means for the flightcrew or maintenance personnel to determine the battery charge state if the battery's function is required for safe operation of the airplane.

Note:

A battery system consists of the battery and any protective, monitoring, and alerting circuitry or hardware inside or outside of the battery. It also includes vents (where necessary) and packaging. For the purpose of these special conditions, a “battery” and “battery system” are referred to as a battery.

Start Signature

Issued in Des Moines, Washington, on December 20, 2019.

Mary A. Schooley,

Acting Manager, Transport Standards Branch, Policy and Innovation Division, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2019-28013 Filed 1-6-20; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-13-P