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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH

This document has a comment period that ends in 19 days. (12/24/2020) Submit a formal comment

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

SUMMARY:

The FAA proposes to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH Model EC135P1, EC135T1, EC135P2, EC135T2, EC135P2+, EC135T2+, EC135P3, and EC135T3 helicopters. This proposed AD was prompted by a deviation from a new manufacturing process, which resulted in a reduced life limit (service life limit) for certain tail rotor blades. This proposed AD would require a reduced life limit for those tail rotor blades and require a new life limit for certain other tail rotor blades, as specified in a European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AD, which will be incorporated by reference. The FAA is proposing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.

DATES:

The FAA must receive comments on this proposed AD by December 24, 2020.

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 https://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 material incorporated by reference (IBR) in this AD, contact the EASA, Konrad-Adenauer-Ufer 3, 50668 Cologne, Germany; telephone +49 221 89990 1000; email ADs@easa.europa.eu; internet www.easa.europa.eu. You may find this IBR material on the EASA website at https://ad.easa.europa.eu. You may view this IBR material at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 10101 Hillwood Start Printed Page 71287Pkwy., Room 6N-321, Fort Worth, TX 76177. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 817-222-5110. It is also available in the AD docket on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2020-0985.

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-2020-0985; 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 NPRM, any comments received, and other information. The street address for Docket Operations is listed above. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Kristin Bradley, Aviation Safety Engineer, International Validation Branch, General Aviation & Rotorcraft Unit, FAA, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Fort Worth, TX 76177; telephone 817-222-5485; email Kristin.Bradley@faa.gov.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Comments Invited

The FAA invites you to participate in this rulemaking by submitting written comments, data, or views about this proposal. The most helpful comments reference a specific portion of the proposal, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include supporting data. To ensure the docket does not contain duplicate comments, commenters should submit only one copy of the comments. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA 2020-0985; Product Identifier 2018-SW-064-AD” at the beginning of your comments.

Except for Confidential Business Information (CBI) as described in the following paragraph, and other information as described in 14 CFR 11.35, the FAA will post all comments received, without change, as well as a report summarizing each substantive public contact with FAA personnel concerning this proposed rulemaking. Before acting on this proposal, the FAA will consider all comments received by the closing date for comments. The FAA will consider comments filed after the comment period has closed if it is possible to do so without incurring expense or delay. The FAA may change this NPRM because of those comments.

Confidential Business Information

CBI is commercial or financial information that is both customarily and actually treated as private by its owner. Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (5 U.S.C. 552), CBI is exempt from public disclosure. If your comments responsive to this NPRM contain commercial or financial information that is customarily treated as private, that you actually treat as private, and that is relevant or responsive to this NPRM, it is important that you clearly designate the submitted comments as CBI. Please mark each page of your submission containing CBI as “PROPIN.” The FAA will treat such marked submissions as confidential under the FOIA, and they will not be placed in the public docket of this NPRM. Submissions containing CBI should be sent to Kristin Bradley, Aviation Safety Engineer, International Validation Branch, General Aviation & Rotorcraft Unit, FAA, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Fort Worth, TX 76177; telephone 817-222-5485; email Kristin.Bradley@faa.gov. Any commentary that the FAA receives that is not specifically designated as CBI will be placed in the public docket for this rulemaking.

Discussion

The EASA (now European Union Aviation Safety Agency), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA AD 2018-0168, dated July 27, 2018 (EASA AD 2018-0168) (also referred to as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or the MCAI), to correct an unsafe condition for all Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH Model EC135 P1, EC135 P2, EC135 P2+, EC135 P3, EC135 T1, EC135 T2, EC135 T2+, EC135 T3, EC635 P2+, EC635 P3, EC635 T1, EC635 T2+ and EC635 T3 helicopters. Model EC635 P2+, EC635 P3, EC635 T1, and EC635 T3 helicopters are not certificated by the FAA and are not included on the U.S. type certificate data sheet; this proposed AD therefore does not include those helicopters in the applicability. Model EC635 T2+ helicopters are also not certificated by the FAA and are not included on the U.S. type certificate data sheet except where the U.S. type certificate data sheet explains that the Model EC635T2+ helicopter having serial number 0858 was converted from Model EC635T2+ to Model EC135T2+; this proposed AD therefore does not include Model EC635 T2+ helicopters in the applicability.

This proposed AD was prompted by a deviation from a new manufacturing process, which resulted in a reduced life limit (service life limit) for certain tail rotor blades. The FAA is proposing this AD to address a tail rotor blade remaining in service beyond its life limit, which could result in failure of that tail rotor blade and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter. See the MCAI for additional background information.

Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

EASA AD 2018-0168 requires a reduced service life of certain tail rotor blades and requires a new service life limit for certain other tail rotor blades (affected parts that have been re-identified).

This material 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 and Requirements of This Proposed AD

This product has been approved by the aviation authority of another country, and is approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to the bilateral agreement with the State of Design Authority, the FAA has been notified of the unsafe condition described in the MCAI referenced above. The FAA is proposing this AD because the FAA 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 EASA AD 2018-0168, described previously, as incorporated by reference, except for any differences identified as exceptions in the regulatory text of this proposed AD.

Explanation of Required Compliance Information

In the FAA's ongoing efforts to improve the efficiency of the AD process, the FAA initially worked with Airbus and EASA to develop a process to use certain EASA ADs as the primary source of information for compliance with requirements for corresponding FAA ADs. The FAA has since coordinated with other manufacturers and civil aviation authorities (CAAs) to use this process. As a result, EASA AD 2018-0168 will be incorporated by reference in the FAA final rule. This proposed AD would, therefore, require compliance with EASA AD 2018-0168 in its entirety, through that Start Printed Page 71288incorporation, except for any differences identified as exceptions in the regulatory text of this proposed AD. Using common terms that are the same as the heading of a particular section in the EASA AD does not mean that operators need comply only with that section. For example, where the AD requirement refers to “all required actions and compliance times,” compliance with this AD requirement is not limited to the section titled “Required Action(s) and Compliance Time(s)” in the EASA AD. Service information specified in EASA AD 2018-0168 that is required for compliance with EASA AD 2018-0168 will be available on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2020-0985 after the FAA final rule is published.

Costs of Compliance

The FAA estimates that this proposed AD affects 345 helicopters of U.S. registry. The FAA estimates the following costs to comply with this proposed AD:

Estimated Costs for Required Actions

Labor costParts costCost per productCost on U.S. operators
1 work-hour × $85 per hour = $85$3,900$3,985$1,374,825

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.

Regulatory Findings

The FAA 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) 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

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:

End Amendment Part

Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH: Docket No. FAA-2020-0985; Product Identifier 2018-SW-064-AD.

(a) Comments Due Date

The FAA must receive comments by December 24, 2020.

(b) Affected Airworthiness Directives (ADs)

None.

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH Model EC135P1, EC135T1, EC135P2, EC135T2, EC135P2+, EC135T2+, EC135P3, and EC135T3 helicopters, certificated in any category, equipped with a tail rotor blade identified as an affected part in European Aviation Safety Agency (now European Union Aviation Safety Agency) (EASA) AD 2018-0168, dated July 27, 2018 (EASA AD 2018-0168).

(d) Subject

Joint Aircraft System Component (JASC) Code 6410, Tail Rotor Blades.

(e) Reason

This AD was prompted by a deviation from a new manufacturing process, which resulted in a reduced life limit (service life limit) for certain tail rotor blades. The FAA is issuing this AD to address a tail rotor blade remaining in service beyond its life limit, which could result in failure of that tail rotor blade and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

(f) Compliance

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

(g) Requirements

Except as specified in paragraph (h) of this AD: Comply with all required actions and compliance times specified in, and in accordance with, EASA AD 2018-0168.

(h) Exceptions to EASA AD 2018-0168

(1) Where EASA AD 2018-0168 refers to its effective date, this AD requires using the effective date of this AD.

(2) The “Remarks” section of EASA AD 2018-0168 does not apply to this AD.

(3) Where EASA AD 2018-0168 refers to flight hours (FH), this AD requires using hours time-in-service.

(i) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

The Manager, Rotorcraft Standards Branch, FAA, may approve AMOCs for this AD. Send your proposal to: Manager, Rotorcraft Standards Branch, FAA, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Fort Worth, TX 76177; telephone 817-222-5110; email 9-ASW-FTW-AMOC-Requests@faa.gov.

(j) Related Information

(1) For EASA AD 2018-0168, contact the EASA, Konrad-Adenauer-Ufer 3, 50668 Cologne, Germany; telephone +49 221 89990 6017; email ADs@easa.europa.eu; internet www.easa.europa.eu. You may find this EASA AD on the EASA website at https://ad.easa.europa.eu. You may view this material at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Room 6N-321, Fort Worth, TX 76177. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 817-222-5110. This material may be found in the AD docket on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2020-0985.Start Printed Page 71289

(2) For more information about this AD, contact Kristin Bradley, Aviation Safety Engineer, International Validation Branch, General Aviation & Rotorcraft Unit, FAA, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Fort Worth, TX 76177; telephone 817 222 5485; email Kristin.Bradley@faa.gov.

Start Signature

Issued on November 2, 2020.

Gaetano A. Sciortino,

Deputy Director for Strategic Initiatives, Compliance & Airworthiness Division, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2020-24766 Filed 11-6-20; 8:45 am]

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