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Proposed Rule

Airworthiness Directives; Airbus SAS Airplanes

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Start Preamble Start Printed Page 21228

AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

SUMMARY:

The FAA proposes to supersede Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2017-12-13, which applies to certain Airbus SAS Model A320-212, -214, -232, and -233 airplanes. AD 2017-12-13 requires repetitive low frequency eddy current inspections or repetitive high frequency eddy current inspections of the pocket radius at certain areas of the fuselage frame, and repair if necessary. Since the FAA issued AD 2017-12-13, it was determined that cracks can initiate and develop between certain other fuselage frames of the pocket radii and additional airplanes are subject to the unsafe condition. This proposed AD would require new repetitive inspections at the left- (LH) and right-hand (RH) sides of the fuselage skin at certain frames for any cracking, and repair if necessary, as specified in a European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is proposed for incorporation 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 June 7, 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 will be incorporated by reference (IBR) in this AD, contact 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 IBR material on the EASA website at https://ad.easa.europa.eu. You may view this IBR material 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 in the AD docket at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2021-0334.

Examining the AD Docket

You may examine the AD docket at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2021-0334; 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.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Sanjay Ralhan, Aerospace Engineer, Large Aircraft Section, International Validation Branch, FAA, 2200 South 216th St., Des Moines, WA 98198; telephone and fax 206-231-3223; email Sanjay.Ralhan@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-2021-0334; Project Identifier MCAI-2020-01662-T” 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 the 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 proposed AD.

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 Sanjay Ralhan, Aerospace Engineer, Large Aircraft Section, International Validation Branch, FAA, 2200 South 216th St., Des Moines, WA 98198; telephone and fax 206-231-3223; email Sanjay.Ralhan@faa.gov. 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 issued AD 2017-12-13, Amendment 39-18928 (82 FR 27983, June 20, 2017) (AD 2017-12-13), which applies to certain Airbus SAS Model A320-212, -214, -232, and -233 airplanes. AD 2017-12-13 requires repetitive low frequency eddy current inspections or repetitive high frequency eddy current inspections at the pocket radius between fuselage frame (FR) 35 and FR40, and repair if necessary. The FAA issued AD 2017-12-13 to address cracking of the pocket radius, which could lead to in-flight decompression of Start Printed Page 21229the airplane and possible injury to the passengers.

Actions Since AD 2017-12-13 Was Issued

Since the FAA issued AD 2017-12-13, it was determined that cracks can initiate and develop between FR35 and FR47 of the pocket radii. Further investigation identified that additional airplanes are affected by the unsafe condition.

The EASA, which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA AD 2020-0280, dated December 14, 2020 (EASA AD 2020-0280) (also referred to as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or the MCAI), to correct an unsafe condition for certain Airbus SAS Model A318-111, -112 and -122 airplanes; Model A319-111, -112, -113, -114, -115, -131, -132, and -133 airplanes; and Model A320-211, -212, -214, -231, -232, and -233 airplanes. EASA AD 2020-0280 supersedes EASA AD 2014-0278, dated December 19, 2014 (which corresponds to FAA AD 2017-12-13).

This proposed AD was prompted by a report of a crack found during an inspection of the pocket radius of the fuselage frame, and a determination that similar cracks may develop in nearby areas of the fuselage frame and that additional airplanes are subject to the unsafe condition. The FAA is proposing this AD to address cracking of the pocket radius, which could lead to in-flight decompression of the airplane and possible injury to the passengers. See the MCAI for additional background information.

Explanation of Retained Requirements

Although this proposed AD does not explicitly restate the requirements of AD 2017-12-13, this proposed AD would retain certain requirements of AD 2017-12-13. Those requirements are referenced in EASA AD 2020-0280, which, in turn, is referenced in paragraph (g) of this proposed AD.

Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

EASA AD 2020-0280 describes procedures for doing repetitive external general visual inspections or special detailed inspections (i.e., phased array ultrasonic technology inspections of the external skin, or detailed inspections for primer/paint cracks and high frequency eddy current inspections of the internal skin) at the LH and RH sides of the fuselage skin, above stringer 6 from FR35 to FR47, for any cracking, and repair if necessary.

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 FAA's 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 pertinent information and determined an unsafe condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other products of the same type design.

Proposed AD Requirements

This proposed AD would require accomplishing the actions specified in EASA AD 2020-0280 described previously, as incorporated by reference, except for any differences identified as exceptions in the regulatory text of this 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 2020-0280 will be incorporated by reference in the FAA final rule. This proposed AD would, therefore, require compliance with EASA AD 2020-0280 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 2020-0280 that is required for compliance with EASA AD 2020-0280 will be available at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2021-0334 after the FAA final rule is published.

Costs of Compliance

The FAA estimates that this proposed AD affects 439 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
Retained actions from AD 2017-12-133 work-hours × $85 per hour = $255$0$255$111,945.
Repetitive inspections (new proposed actions)Up to 30 work-hours × $85 per hour = Up to $2,5500Up to $2,550Up to $1,119,450.

The FAA has received no definitive data on which to base the cost estimates for the repairs specified in this proposed 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. Start Printed Page 21230This 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) Would not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska, and

(3) Would 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:

End Amendment Part Start Amendment Part

a. Removing Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2017-12-13, Amendment 39-18928 ( 82 FR 27983, June 20, 2017); and

End Amendment Part Start Amendment Part

b. Adding the following new AD:

End Amendment Part

Airbus SAS: Docket No. FAA-2021-0334; Project Identifier MCAI-2020-01662-T.

(a) Comments Due Date

The FAA must receive comments on this airworthiness directive (AD) by June 7, 2021.

(b) Affected ADs

This AD replaces AD 2017-12-13, Amendment 39-18928 (82 FR 27983, June 20, 2017).

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to Airbus SAS airplanes specified in paragraphs (c)(1) through (3) of this AD, certificated in any category, as identified in European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AD 2020-0280, dated December 14, 2020 (EASA AD 2020-0280).

(1) Model A318-111, -112 and -122 airplanes.

(2) Model A319-111, -112, -113, -114, -115, -131, -132, and -133 airplanes.

(3) Model A320-211, -212, -214, -231, -232, and -233 airplanes.

(d) Subject

Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 53, Fuselage.

(e) Reason

This AD was prompted by a report of a crack found during an inspection of the pocket radius of the fuselage frame, and a determination that similar cracks may develop in nearby areas of the fuselage frame and that additional airplanes are subject to the unsafe condition. The FAA is issuing this AD to address cracking of the pocket radius, which could lead to in-flight decompression of the airplane and possible injury to the passengers.

(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 2020-0280.

(h) Exceptions to EASA AD 2020-0280

(1) Where EASA AD 2020-0280 refers to its effective date, this AD requires using the effective date of this AD.

(2) Where paragraph (9) of EASA AD 2020-0280 specifies if any crack is found during any inspection to “contact Airbus for approved repair instructions and accomplish those instructions accordingly,” this AD requires if any cracking is found, the cracking must be repaired before further flight using a method approved by the Manager, Large Aircraft Section, International Validation Branch, FAA; or EASA; or Airbus SAS's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA). If approved by the DOA, the approval must include the DOA-authorized signature.

(3) Where paragraph (10) of EASA AD 2020-0280 specifies credit for actions “in accordance with the instructions of an Airbus Repair Design Approval Sheet (RDAS), [and to] accomplish the next inspection of each repaired area in accordance with the instructions of, and within the compliance time as specified in, the applicable RDAS,” this AD requires using “in accordance with repair instructions approved, and within the compliance time specified in the repair approval, using a method approved by the Manager, Large Aircraft Section, International Validation Branch, FAA; or EASA; or Airbus SAS's EASA DOA. If approved by the DOA, the approval must include the DOA-authorized signature.”

(4) Where paragraph (11) of EASA AD 2020-0280 specifies terminating actions apply only if specified “in the Airbus RDAS instructions for a repaired aeroplane,” this AD requires using “in repair instructions approved using a method approved by the Manager, Large Aircraft Section, International Validation Branch, FAA; or EASA; or Airbus SAS's EASA DOA. If approved by the DOA, the approval must include the DOA-authorized signature.”

(5) The “Remarks” section of EASA AD 2020-0280 does not apply to this AD.

(i) No Reporting Requirement

Although the service information referenced in EASA AD 2020-0280 specifies to submit certain information to the manufacturer, this AD does not include that requirement.

(j) Other FAA AD Provisions

The following provisions also apply to this AD:

(1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, Large Aircraft Section, 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 responsible Flight Standards Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the Large Aircraft Section, International Validation Branch, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (k)(2) of this AD. Information may be emailed to: 9-AVS-AIR-730-AMOC@faa.gov. Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the responsible Flight Standards Office.

(2) Contacting the Manufacturer: For any requirement in this AD to obtain instructions from a manufacturer, the instructions must be accomplished using a method approved by the Manager, Large Aircraft Section, International Validation Branch, FAA; or EASA; or Airbus SAS's EASA DOA. If approved by the DOA, the approval must include the DOA-authorized signature.

(3) Required for Compliance (RC): For any service information referenced in EASA AD 2020-0280 that contains RC procedures and tests: Except as required by paragraph (j)(2) of this AD, RC procedures and tests must be done to comply with this AD; any procedures or tests that are not identified as RC are recommended. Those procedures and tests that are not identified as RC may be deviated from using accepted methods in accordance with the operator's maintenance or inspection program without obtaining approval of an AMOC, provided the procedures and tests identified as RC can be done and the airplane can be put back in an airworthy condition. Any substitutions or changes to procedures or tests identified as RC require approval of an AMOC.

(k) Related Information

(1) For information about EASA AD 2020-0280, contact 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, 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. This material may be found in the AD docket at Start Printed Page 21231 https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2021-0334.

(2) For more information about this AD, contact Sanjay Ralhan, Aerospace Engineer, Large Aircraft Section, International Validation Branch, FAA, 2200 South 216th St., Des Moines, WA 98198; telephone and fax 206-231-3223; email Sanjay.Ralhan@faa.gov.

Start Signature

Issued on April 15, 2021.

Lance T. Gant,

Director, Compliance & Airworthiness Division, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2021-08202 Filed 4-21-21; 8:45 am]

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