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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes

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Start Preamble Start Printed Page 73430

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 The Boeing Company Model 777 airplanes. This proposed AD was prompted by reports that, during investigation of a fuel leak, fatigue cracking was found on the forward inboard side of the fuel tank access door cutouts on the left and right lower wing skin. The cause of the cracking is attributed to corrosion damage. This proposed AD would require repetitive inspections for any existing repair of the wing lower skin fuel tank and dry bay access door cutouts on the left and right lower wing skin, and applicable on-condition actions. 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 January 4, 2021.

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 service information identified in this NPRM, 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 referenced service information at the FAA, Airworthiness Products Section, Operational Safety 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-2020-0981.

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-2020-0981; 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:

Eric Lin, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Section, FAA, Seattle ACO Branch, 2200 South 216th St., Des Moines, WA 98198; phone and fax: 206-231-3523; email: eric.lin@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-2020-0981; Project Identifier AD-2020-00919-T” 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 the person identified in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. Any commentary that the FAA receives which is not specifically designated as CBI will be placed in the public docket for this rulemaking.

Discussion

The FAA has received reports that, during investigation of a fuel leak, 0.55-inch to 2.10-inch fatigue cracks were found at fuel tank access door cutouts 633AB and 533BB on the left and right lower wing skin. The cracks were located on the forward inboard side of the fuel tank access door cutout. Boeing analysis determined the root cause of the cracking is corrosion damage with high shear stress concentration around the edge of the lower wing skin fuel tank and dry bay access door cutout being higher than anticipated. This condition, if not addressed, could result in the inability of a principal structural Start Printed Page 73431element to sustain limit load, and consequent reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

The FAA reviewed Boeing Alert Requirements Bulletin 777-57A0118 RB, dated June 23, 2020. The service information describes procedures for doing repetitive general visual inspection for any existing repair of the fuel tank access door cutouts on the left and right lower wing skin, and applicable on-condition actions. On-condition actions include doing detailed and high frequency eddy current (HFEC) inspections for any corrosion, fretting or cracking, doing a blend out of corrosion or fretting that meets certain criteria, and 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.

FAA's Determination

The FAA is proposing this AD because the agency 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 accomplishment of the actions identified in Boeing Alert Requirements Bulletin 777-57A0118 RB, dated June 23, 2020, described previously, except for any differences identified as exceptions in the regulatory text of this proposed AD.

For information on the procedures and compliance times, see this service information at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2020-0981.

Explanation of Requirements Bulletin

The FAA worked in conjunction with industry, under the Airworthiness Directive Implementation Aviation Rulemaking Committee (AD ARC), to enhance the AD system. One enhancement is a process for annotating which steps in the service information are “required for compliance” (RC) with an AD. Boeing has implemented this RC concept into Boeing service bulletins.

In an effort to further improve the quality of ADs and AD-related Boeing service information, a joint process improvement initiative was worked between the FAA and Boeing. The initiative resulted in the development of a new process in which the service information more clearly identifies the actions needed to address the unsafe condition in the “Accomplishment Instructions.” The new process results in a Boeing Requirements Bulletin, which contains only the actions needed to address the unsafe condition (i.e., only the RC actions).

Costs of Compliance

The FAA estimates that this proposed AD affects 221 airplanes of U.S. registry. The FAA estimates the following costs to comply with this proposed AD:

Estimated Costs for Required Actions

ActionLabor costParts costCost per productCost on U.S. operators
General Visual InspectionUp to 34 work-hours × $85 per hour = Up to $2,890 per inspection cycle$0Up to $2,890 per inspection cycleUp to $638,690 per inspection cycle.

The FAA estimates the following costs to do any necessary on-condition actions that would be required. The FAA has no way of determining the number of aircraft that might need these on-condition actions:

Estimated Costs of On-Condition Actions *

ActionLabor costParts costCost per productCost on U.S. operators
Blend out of corrosion or fretting2 work-hours × $85 per hour = $170 per blend out$0$170 per blend out$170 per blend out.
Repair of crack less than or equal to 0.2 inch with no blend repair or keyway trim modification2 work-hours × $85 per hour = $170 per crack0$170 per crack$170 per crack.
Detailed and HFEC inspections2 work-hours × $85 per hour = $170 per access door cutout0$170 per access door cutout$170 per access door cutout.
* The FAA has received no definitive data on which to base the cost estimates for the on-condition repairs specified in this proposed AD that require obtaining an alternative method of compliance (AMOC).

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.Start Printed Page 73432

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 (AD):

End Amendment Part

The Boeing Company: Docket No. FAA-2020-0981; Project Identifier AD-2020-00919-T.

(a) Comments Due Date

The FAA must receive comments by January 4, 2021.

(b) Affected ADs

None.

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to The Boeing Company Model 777-200, -200LR, -300, -300ER, and 777F series airplanes, certificated in any category, as identified in Boeing Alert Requirements Bulletin 777-57A0118 RB, dated June 23, 2020.

(d) Subject

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

(e) Unsafe Condition

This AD was prompted by reports that, during investigation of a fuel leak, fatigue cracking was found on the forward inboard side of the fuel tank access door cutouts on the left and right lower wing skin. The cause of the cracking is attributed to corrosion damage. The FAA is issuing this AD to address such cracking, which could result in the inability of a principal structural element to sustain limit load, and consequent reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

(f) Compliance

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

(g) Required Actions

Except as specified by paragraph (h) of this AD: At the applicable times specified in the “Compliance” paragraph of Boeing Alert Requirements Bulletin 777-57A0118 RB, dated June 23, 2020, do all applicable actions identified in, and in accordance with, the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Requirements Bulletin 777-57A0118 RB, dated June 23, 2020.

Note 1 to paragraph (g):

Guidance for accomplishing the actions required by this AD can be found in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 777-57A0118, dated June 23, 2020, which is referred to in Boeing Alert Requirements Bulletin 777-57A0118 RB, dated June 23, 2020.

(h) Exceptions to Service Information Specifications

(1) Where Boeing Alert Requirements Bulletin 777-57A0118 RB, dated June 23, 2020, uses the phrase “the original issue date of Requirements Bulletin 777-57A0118 RB,” this AD requires using “the effective date of this AD”, except where Boeing Alert Requirements Bulletin 777-57A0118 RB, dated June 23, 2020, uses the phrase “the original issue date of Requirements Bulletin 777-57A0118 RB” in a note or flag note.

(2) Where Boeing Alert Requirements Bulletin 777-57A0118 RB, dated June 23, 2020, specifies contacting Boeing for repair instructions or for alternative inspections: This AD requires doing the repair, or doing the alternative inspections and applicable on-condition 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, Seattle 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 responsible Flight Standards 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)(1) of this AD. Information may be emailed to: 9-ANM-Seattle-ACO-AMOC-Requests@faa.gov.

(2) Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the responsible Flight Standards 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, Seattle 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.

(j) Related Information

(1) For more information about this AD, contact Eric Lin, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Section, FAA, Seattle ACO Branch, 2200 South 216th St., Des Moines, WA 98198; phone and fax: 206-231-3523; email: eric.lin@faa.gov.

(2) 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. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Airworthiness Products Section, Operational Safety Branch, 2200 South 216th St., Des Moines, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 206-231-3195.

Start Signature

Issued on October 29, 2020.

Lance T. Gant,

Director, Compliance & Airworthiness Division, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2020-25283 Filed 11-17-20; 8:45 am]

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