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Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH Helicopters

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The FAA is adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH Model EC135P1, EC135P2, EC135P2+, EC135P3, EC135T1, EC135T2, EC135T2+, and EC135T3 helicopters. This AD was prompted by a report that geometrical non-conformities were found in the root section of the tail rotor blade (TRB). This AD requires a one-time inspection (dimensional check) of the TRB for conformity and, depending on the findings, replacement of certain affected parts, as specified in a European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AD, which is incorporated by reference. This AD also prohibits rework, repair, or modification of affected parts in the affected area of the TRB assembly root. The FAA is issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.

DATES:

This AD is effective October 13, 2021.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of October 13, 2021.

ADDRESSES:

For material incorporated by reference (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 IBR 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-2021-0380.

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-2021-0380; 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 final rule, any comments received, and other information. The address for Docket Operations is U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590.

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Andrea Jimenez, Aerospace Engineer, COS Program Management Section, Operational Safety Branch, Compliance & Airworthiness Division, FAA, 1600 Stewart Ave., Mail Stop: Room 410, Westbury, NY 11590; telephone 516-228-7330; email andrea.jimenez@faa.gov.

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

The EASA, which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA AD 2020-0282, dated December 17, 2020 (EASA AD 2020-0282) (also referred to as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or the MCAI), to correct an unsafe condition for 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, all variants, all serial numbers. Model EC635 P2+, EC635 P3, EC635 T1, EC635 T2+, and EC635 T3 helicopters are 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 AD, therefore, does not include Model EC635 P2+, EC635 P3, EC635 T1, EC635 T2+, and EC635 T3 helicopters in the applicability.

Furthermore, although EASA AD 2020-0282 applies to all Model EC135 P1, EC135 P2, EC135 P2+, EC135 P3, EC135 T1, EC135 T2, EC135 T2+, and EC135 T3 helicopters, this AD applies to helicopters with an affected part installed instead.

The FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 by adding an AD that would apply to certain Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH Model EC135P1, EC135P2, EC135P2+, EC135P3, EC135T1, EC135T2, EC135T2+, and EC135T3 helicopters. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on June 1, 2021 (86 FR 29216). The NPRM was prompted by a report that during an investigation related to an accident on an Airbus Helicopters Model EC130B4 helicopter, geometrical non-conformities were observed in the TRB root section. EASA issued AD 2020-0187, dated August 21, 2020, to address this issue on Model EC130B4 and EC130T2 helicopters and the FAA issued corresponding AD 2021-10-25, Amendment 39-21558 (86 FR 29176, June 1, 2021). The Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH Model EC135P1, EC135P2, EC135P2+, EC135P3, EC135T1, EC135T2, EC135T2+, and EC135T3 helicopters have a similar design and production requirements to the affected Model EC130B4 helicopter, and an inspection of the affected parts detected geometrical non-conformities in some instances. The NPRM proposed to require a one-time inspection (dimensional check) of the TRB for conformity and, depending on the findings, replacement of certain affected parts, as specified in EASA AD 2020-0282. The NPRM also proposed to prohibit rework, repair, or modification of affected parts in the affected area of the TRB assembly root.

The FAA is issuing this AD to address geometrical non-conformities in the TRB root section, which could lead to crack initiation and consequent blade failure, resulting in loss of control of the helicopter. See the MCAI for additional background information.

Comments

The FAA gave the public the opportunity to participate in developing this final rule. The FAA received no comments on the NPRM or on the determination of the cost to the public.Start Printed Page 50243

Conclusion

The FAA reviewed the relevant data and determined that air safety and the public interest require adopting this final rule as proposed, except for minor editorial changes. The FAA has determined that these minor changes:

  • Are consistent with the intent that was proposed in the NPRM for addressing the unsafe condition; and
  • Do not add any additional burden upon the public than was already proposed in the NPRM.

Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

EASA AD 2020-0282 requires a one-time inspection (dimensional check) to verify TRB conformity, and, depending on findings, replacement of each affected part classified as Category B (non-compliant TRB assembly). EASA AD 2020-0282 also prohibits rework, repair, or modification of affected parts in the critical section (affected area of the TRB assembly root).

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.

Costs of Compliance

The FAA estimates that this AD affects 341 helicopters of U.S. registry. The FAA estimates the following costs to comply with this AD:

Estimated Costs for Required Actions

Labor costParts costCost per productCost on U.S. operators
4 work-hours × $85 per hour = $340$0$340$115,940

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

Estimated Costs of On-Condition Actions

Labor costParts costCost per product
10 work-hours × $85 per hour = $850$4,400$5,250

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

This AD will not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132. This AD will 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 that this AD:

(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

Adoption of the Amendment

Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the FAA amends 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

2021-16-10 Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH: Amendment 39-21672; Docket No. FAA-2021-0380; Project Identifier MCAI-2020-01683-R.

(a) Effective Date

This airworthiness directive (AD) is effective October 13, 2021.

(b) Affected ADs

None.

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH Model EC135P1, EC135P2, EC135P2+, EC135P3, EC135T1, EC135T2, EC135T2+, and EC135T3 helicopters, certificated in any category, with any of the tail rotor blade (TRB) part numbers specified in paragraphs (c)(1) through (5) of this AD installed.

(1) Part number (P/N) L642A2002101.

(2) P/N L642A2002103.

(3) P/N L642A2002104.

(4) P/N L642A2002111.

(5) P/N L642A2002112.

(d) Subject

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

(e) Unsafe Condition

This AD was prompted by a report that during an investigation related to an accident on an Airbus Helicopters Model EC130B4 helicopter, geometrical non-conformities were observed in the TRB root section. The FAA is issuing this AD to address geometrical non-conformities in the TRB root section, which could lead to crack initiation Start Printed Page 50244and consequent blade failure, resulting in 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 2020-0282, dated December 17, 2020 (EASA AD 2020-0282).

(h) Exceptions to EASA AD 2020-0282

(1) Where EASA AD 2020-0282 refers to its effective date, this AD requires using the effective date of this AD.

(2) The “Remarks” section of EASA AD 2020-0282 does not apply to this AD.

(3) Where the service information referred to in EASA AD 2020-0282 specifies to discard a certain part, this AD requires removing that part from service.

(4) Where EASA AD 2020-0282 refers to flight hours (FH), this AD requires using hours time-in-service.

(5) Where the service information referred to in EASA AD 2020-0282 specifies to measure using the Smartphone application or the PowerPoint method, those methods of measurement are not required by this AD.

(6) Where the service information referred to in EASA AD 2020-0282 specifies to contact Airbus Helicopters if the measurement results cannot be confirmed, this AD requires determining the specified measurements but does not require contacting Airbus Helicopters for confirmation.

(i) No Reporting Requirement

Although the service information referred to in EASA AD 2020-0282 specifies to submit certain information to the manufacturer, this AD does not include that requirement.

(j) 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 (k) 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.

(k) Related Information

For more information about this AD, contact Andrea Jimenez, Aerospace Engineer, COS Program Management Section, Operational Safety Branch, Compliance & Airworthiness Division, FAA, 1600 Stewart Ave., Mail Stop: Room 410, Westbury, NY 11590; telephone 516-228-7330; email andrea.jimenez@faa.gov.

(l) Material Incorporated by Reference

(1) The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference (IBR) of the service information listed in this paragraph under 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51.

(2) You must use this service information as applicable to do the actions required by this AD, unless this AD specifies otherwise.

(i) European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AD 2020-0282, dated December 17, 2020.

(ii) [Reserved]

(3) For EASA AD 2020-0282, 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.

(4) 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-2021-0380.

(5) You may view this material that is incorporated by reference at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, email fedreg.legal@nara.gov, or go to: https://www.archives.gov/​federal-register/​cfr/​ibr-locations.html.

Start Signature

Issued on July 27, 2021.

Lance T. Gant,

Director, Compliance & Airworthiness Division, Aircraft Certification Service.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2021-19250 Filed 9-7-21; 8:45 am]

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