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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH (AHD) Helicopters

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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 Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH (AHD) Model MBB-BK117 C-2 and MBB-BK117 D-2 helicopters. This proposed AD was prompted by a report of increased control force in the collective axis. This proposed AD would require repetitive visual inspections of the main rotor actuator (MRA), as specified in a European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AD, which is proposed for incorporation by reference (IBR). 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 May 24, 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 material that is proposed for IBR in this AD, contact the EASA, Konrad-Adenauer-Ufer 3, 50668 Cologne, Germany; telephone +49 221 8999 000; email ADs@easa.europa.eu; internet www.easa.europa.eu. You may find this material 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. It is also available in the AD docket on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2021-0265.

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-2021-0265; 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:

Katherine Venegas, Aviation Safety Engineer, Los Angeles ACO Branch, FAA, 3960 Paramount Blvd., Lakewood, California 90712; telephone (562) 627-5353; email katherine.venegas@faa.gov.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Comments Invited

The FAA invites you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposal. Send your comments to an address listed under ADDRESSES. Include “Docket No. FAA-2021-0265; Project Identifier MCAI-2020-01541-R” at the beginning of your comments. The most helpful comments reference a specific portion of the proposal, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include supporting data. The FAA will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposal because of those 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, to https://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. The agency will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact received about this proposal.

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 Start Printed Page 18222page 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 Katherine Venegas, Aviation Safety Engineer, Los Angeles ACO Branch, FAA, 3960 Paramount Blvd., Lakewood, California 90712; telephone (562) 627-5353; email katherine.venegas@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, which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA AD 2018-0283, dated December 20, 2018 (EASA AD 2018-0283), to correct an unsafe condition for AHD Model MBB-BK117 C-2 and MBB-BK117 D-2 helicopters. EASA later issued EASA AD 2020-0257, dated November 17, 2020 (EASA AD 2020-0257), to supersede EASA AD 2018-0283.

This proposed AD was prompted by a report of increased control force in the collective axis on an AHD Model EC135 helicopter. Subsequent inspections determined that a nut on a piston of the MRA had cracked and separated from the piston rod. Due to design similarity, Model MBB-BK117 C-2 and MBB-BK117 D-2 helicopters are also affected by this unsafe condition. The FAA is proposing this AD to prevent failure of the MRA and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter. See the EASA AD for additional background information.

Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

EASA AD 2020-0257 describes procedures for a repetitive visual inspection of the MRA and depending on the results, replacing the affected parts.

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

These products have been approved by the aviation authority of another country, and are 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 EASA AD referenced above. The FAA is proposing this AD after evaluating all the relevant information and determining the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of these same type designs.

Proposed AD Requirements

This proposed AD would require accomplishing the actions specified in EASA AD 2020-0257 described previously, as incorporated by reference, except for any differences identified as exceptions in the regulatory text of this proposed AD and except as discussed under “Differences Between this Proposed AD and the EASA 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 2020-0257 will be incorporated by reference in the FAA final rule. This proposed AD would, therefore, require compliance with EASA AD 2020-0257 in its entirety, through that incorporation, 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 2020-0257 that is required for compliance with EASA AD 2020-0257 will be available on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2021-0265 after the FAA final rule is published.

Differences Between This Proposed AD and the EASA AD

The EASA AD requires contacting Airbus Helicopters or replacing an affected part, whereas this proposed AD would require performing the corrective action in accordance with FAA-approved procedures or removing the affected parts from service instead. The service information referenced in the EASA AD refers to calendar time when specifying the compliance time for the inspections, whereas this proposed AD uses hours time-in-service. The EASA AD allows a tolerance to the compliance times, whereas this proposed AD would not. The EASA AD does not specify a compliance time for the reporting requirements; this proposed AD would require performing the reporting action within 30 days after the effective date of this AD.

Interim Action

The FAA considers this proposed AD interim action. If final action is later identified, the FAA might consider further rulemaking then.

Costs of Compliance

The FAA estimates that this AD affects 216 helicopters of U.S. Registry. Labor rates are estimated at $85 per work-hour. Based on these numbers, the FAA estimates that operators may incur the following costs in order to comply with this proposed AD.

Inspecting the nuts on the MRA pistons would take about 1 work-hour for an estimated cost of $85 per helicopter and $18,360 for the U.S. fleet, per inspection cycle.

Replacing the MRA would take about 7 work-hours and parts would cost $286,554 for an estimated cost of $287,149 per helicopter.

Repairing the MRA would take up to about 8 work hours and parts would cost about $110 for an estimated cost of up to $790 per MRA.

If required, reporting information would take about 1 work-hour for an estimated cost of $85 per instance.

Paperwork Reduction Act

A federal agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, nor shall a person be subject to penalty for failure to comply with a collection of information subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act unless that collection of information displays a current valid OMB control number. The control number for the collection of information required by this proposed AD is 2120-0056. The paperwork cost associated with this proposed AD has been detailed in the Costs of Compliance section of this document and includes time for reviewing instructions, as well as completing and reviewing the collection of information. Therefore, all reporting associated with this proposed AD is mandatory. Comments concerning the accuracy of this burden and suggestions for reducing the burden should be directed to Information Collection Clearance Officer, Federal Aviation Administration, 10101 Start Printed Page 18223Hillwood Parkway, Fort Worth, TX 76177-1524.

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

1. The authority citation for part 39 continues to read as follows:

Start Authority

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

End Authority
[Amended]

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

Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH (AHD): Docket No. FAA-2021-0265; Project Identifier MCAI-2020-01541-R.

(a) Comments Due Date

The FAA must receive comments by May 24, 2021.

(b) Affected Airworthiness Directives (ADs)

None.

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to all Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH (AHD) Model MBB-BK117 C-2 and MBB-BK117 D-2 helicopters, certificated in any category.

(d) Subject

Joint Aircraft System Component (JASC) Code: 6710, Main Rotor Control.

(e) Reason

This AD was prompted by a report of increased control force in the collective axis. The FAA is issuing this AD to prevent failure of the main rotor actuator 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, European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AD 2020-0257, dated November 17, 2020 (EASA AD 2020-0257).

(h) Exceptions to EASA AD 2020-0257

(1) Where EASA AD 2020-0257 refers to its effective date, this AD requires using the effective date of this AD.

(2) Where Note 1 of EASA AD 2020-0257 specifies a tolerance of 3 months may be applied to the initial threshold and to the repetitive inspection interval, this AD does not allow this tolerance.

(3) Where paragraph (2) of EASA AD 2020-0257 specifies contacting Airbus Helicopters, this AD requires performing the corrective action in accordance with FAA-approved procedures.

(4) Where paragraph (3) of EASA AD 2020-0257 specifies an alternative method to comply with the requirements of paragraph (2) of EASA AD 2020-0257 by replacing an affected part, this AD requires removing an affected part from service as an alternative method.

(5) Where paragraph (1) of EASA AD 2020-0257 specifies a compliance time for the initial inspection of “before an affected part exceeds 12 months since new, or since last overhaul, or within 3 months after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs later” and repetitive inspections at intervals not to exceed 12 months, this AD requires a compliance time for the initial inspection of before an affected part exceeds 319 total hours time-in-service (TIS), or within 319 hours TIS after the date of the last overhaul, or within 80 hours TIS after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs later, and repetitive inspections at intervals not to exceed 319 hours TIS.

(6) Although the service information referenced in EASA AD 2020-0257 does not specify a compliance time for the reporting requirement, this AD requires the reporting action to be performed within 30 days after the effective date of this AD.

(7) The “Remarks” section of EASA AD 2020-0257 does not apply to this AD.

(i) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

(1) The Manager, International Validation 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 International Validation Branch, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (j)(2) of this AD. Information may be emailed to: 9-AVS-AIR-730-AMOC@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.

(j) Related Information

(1) For EASA AD 2020-0257, contact the EASA, Konrad-Adenauer-Ufer 3, 50668 Cologne, Germany; telephone +49 221 8999 000; 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-2021-0265.

(2) For more information about this AD, contact Katherine Venegas, Aviation Safety Engineer, Los Angeles ACO Branch, FAA, 3960 Paramount Blvd., Lakewood, California 90712; telephone (562) 627-5353; email katherine.venegas@faa.gov.

Start Signature

Issued on April 1, 2021.

Lance T. Gant,

Director, Compliance & Airworthiness Division, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Part End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2021-07127 Filed 4-7-21; 8:45 am]

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