[Federal Register Volume 66, Number 81 (Thursday, April 26, 2001)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 20952-20954]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 01-10343]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 39

[Docket No. 2000-NM-421-AD]
RIN 2120-AA64


Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Model A319, A320, and A321 
Series Airplanes

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration, DOT.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

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SUMMARY: This document proposes the adoption of a new airworthiness 
directive (AD) that is applicable to certain Airbus Model A319, A320, 
and

[[Page 20953]]

A321 series airplanes. This proposal would require performing a general 
visual inspection of the outer handle flap mechanisms of the passenger 
doors for the presence of corrosion inhibitor and for correct 
operation; cleaning, if necessary; and greasing. This action is 
necessary to prevent blockage of the outer handle flap in an 
intermediate pushed-in position, which may prevent a passenger door 
from opening from the inside of the airplane, thereby delaying an 
emergency evacuation. This action is intended to address the identified 
unsafe condition.

DATES: Comments must be received by May 29, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments in triplicate to the Federal Aviation 
Administration (FAA), Transport Airplane Directorate, ANM-114, 
Attention: Rules Docket No. 2000-NM-421-AD, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., 
Renton, Washington 98055-4056. Comments may be inspected at this 
location between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except 
Federal holidays. Comments may be submitted via fax to (425) 227-1232. 
Comments may also be sent via the Internet using the following address: 
9-anm-nprmcomment@faa.gov. Comments sent via fax or the Internet must 
contain ``Docket No. 2000-NM-421-AD'' in the subject line and need not 
be submitted in triplicate. Comments sent via the Internet as attached 
electronic files must be formatted in Microsoft Word 97 for Windows or 
ASCII text.
    The service information referenced in the proposed rule may be 
obtained from Airbus Industrie, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 
Blagnac Cedex, France. This information may be examined at the FAA, 
Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, 
Washington.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan Rodina, Aerospace Engineer, 
International Branch, ANM-116, FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 
1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98055-4056; telephone (425) 
227-2125; fax (425) 227-1149.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Comments Invited

    Interested persons are invited to participate in the making of the 
proposed rule by submitting such written data, views, or arguments as 
they may desire. Communications shall identify the Rules Docket number 
and be submitted in triplicate to the address specified above. All 
communications received on or before the closing date for comments, 
specified above, will be considered before taking action on the 
proposed rule. The proposals contained in this action may be changed in 
light of the comments received.
    Submit comments using the following format:
     Organize comments issue-by-issue. For example, discuss a 
request to change the compliance time and a request to change the 
service bulletin reference as two separate issues.
     For each issue, state what specific change to the proposed 
AD is being requested.
     Include justification (e.g., reasons or data) for each 
request.
    Comments are specifically invited on the overall regulatory, 
economic, environmental, and energy aspects of the proposed rule. All 
comments submitted will be available, both before and after the closing 
date for comments, in the Rules Docket for examination by interested 
persons. A report summarizing each FAA-public contact concerned with 
the substance of this proposal will be filed in the Rules Docket.
    Commenters wishing the FAA to acknowledge receipt of their comments 
submitted in response to this action must submit a self-addressed, 
stamped postcard on which the following statement is made: ``Comments 
to Docket Number 2000-NM-421-AD.'' The postcard will be date stamped 
and returned to the commenter.

Availability of NPRMs

    Any person may obtain a copy of this NPRM by submitting a request 
to the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, ANM-114, Attention: Rules 
Docket No. 2000-NM-421-AD, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 
98055-4056.

Discussion

    The Direction Generale de l'Aviation Civile (DGAC), which is the 
airworthiness authority for France, notified the FAA that an unsafe 
condition may exist on certain Airbus Model A319, A320, and A321 series 
airplanes. The DGAC advises that, on one Model A320 series airplane, 
one passenger door was found impossible to open from the inside of the 
airplane. From the outside of the airplane, the outer handle flap 
assembly was found in an intermediate pushed-in position, preventing 
the door from opening from the inside. No grease could be seen on the 
handle mechanism, indicating that the greasing operation had not been 
performed in production on that airplane, which was recently delivered. 
Greasing of the outer handle mechanism restored normal operation.
    Further investigation, performed in production, showed abnormal 
presence of corrosion inhibitor on the outer handle mechanism on some 
airplanes, although no corrosion inhibitor was found on the outer 
handle of the above affected airplane. The presence of corrosion 
inhibitor on the outer handle mechanism, while not expected to cause 
the blockage, is considered to be an additional contributing factor.
    The lack of proper greasing, if not corrected, could prevent a 
passenger door from opening from the inside of the airplane, thereby 
resulting in a delay in evacuation during emergency conditions.
    The subject area on certain Model A319 and A321 series airplanes is 
almost identical to that on the affected Model A320 series airplanes. 
Therefore, those Model A319 and A321 series airplanes may be subject to 
the same unsafe condition revealed on the Model A320 series airplane.

Explanation of Relevant Service Information

    Airbus has issued All Operators Telex (AOT) A320-52A1106, dated 
September 28, 2000, which describes procedures for performing a one-
time general visual inspection of the outer handle flap mechanisms of 
the passenger doors for the presence of corrosion inhibitor and for 
correct operation; cleaning, if necessary; and greasing of the four 
main passenger doors. Accomplishment of the actions specified in the 
AOT is intended to adequately address the identified unsafe condition. 
The DGAC classified this AOT as mandatory and issued French 
airworthiness directive 2000-519-158(B), dated December 13, 2000, in 
order to assure the continued airworthiness of these airplanes in 
France.

FAA's Conclusions

    These airplane models are manufactured in France and are type 
certificated for operation in the United States under the provisions of 
section 21.29 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR 21.29) and 
the applicable bilateral airworthiness agreement. Pursuant to this 
bilateral airworthiness agreement, the DGAC has kept the FAA informed 
of the situation described above. The FAA has examined the findings of 
the DGAC, reviewed all available information, and determined that AD 
action is necessary for products of this type design that are 
certificated for operation in the United States.

Explanation of Requirements of Proposed Rule

    Since an unsafe condition has been identified that is likely to 
exist or

[[Page 20954]]

develop on other airplanes of the same type design registered in the 
United States, the proposed AD would require accomplishment of the 
actions specified in the AOT described previously.

Differences Between Proposed Rule and Foreign AD

    The proposed AD would differ from the parallel French airworthiness 
directive in that it would not specify performance of Maintenance 
Review Board (MRB) Task 52-10-00, Item 3, as an alternative means of 
compliance with this proposed AD. The FAA has determined that the 
applicable AOT provides more precise and detailed procedures for 
performing the actions required to address the identified unsafe 
condition.

Cost Impact

    The FAA estimates that 63 airplanes of U.S. registry would be 
affected by this proposed AD, that it would take approximately 1 work 
hour per airplane to accomplish the proposed actions, and that the 
average labor rate is $60 per work hour. Based on these figures, the 
cost impact of the proposed AD on U.S. operators is estimated to be 
$3,780, or $60 per airplane.
    The cost impact figure discussed above is based on assumptions that 
no operator has yet accomplished any of the proposed requirements of 
this AD action, and that no operator would accomplish those actions in 
the future if this proposed AD were not adopted. The cost impact 
figures discussed in AD rulemaking actions represent only the time 
necessary to perform the specific actions actually required by the AD. 
These figures typically do not include incidental costs, such as the 
time required to gain access and close up, planning time, or time 
necessitated by other administrative actions.

Regulatory Impact

    The regulations proposed herein 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. Therefore, it 
is determined that this proposal would not have federalism implications 
under Executive Order 13132.
    For the reasons discussed above, I certify that this proposed 
regulation (1) is not a ``significant regulatory action'' under 
Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a ``significant rule'' under the DOT 
Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979); 
and (3) if promulgated, 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. A copy of the draft 
regulatory evaluation prepared for this action is contained in the 
Rules Docket. A copy of it may be obtained by contacting the Rules 
Docket at the location provided under the caption ADDRESSES.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

    Air transportation, Aircraft, Aviation safety, Safety.

The Proposed Amendment

    Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the 
Administrator, the Federal Aviation Administration proposes to amend 
part 39 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR part 39) as 
follows:

PART 39--AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES

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

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


Sec. 39.13  [Amended]

    2. Section 39.13 is amended by adding the following new 
airworthiness directive:

Airbus Industrie: Docket 2000-NM-421-AD.

    Applicability: Model A319, A320, and A321 series airplanes, up 
to and including manufacturer's serial number (MSN) 1261, 
certificated in any category.

    Note 1: This AD applies to each airplane identified in the 
preceding applicability provision, regardless of whether it has been 
modified, altered, or repaired in the area subject to the 
requirements of this AD. For airplanes that have been modified, 
altered, or repaired so that the performance of the requirements of 
this AD is affected, the owner/operator must request approval for an 
alternative method of compliance in accordance with paragraph (b) of 
this AD. The request should include an assessment of the effect of 
the modification, alteration, or repair on the unsafe condition 
addressed by this AD; and, if the unsafe condition has not been 
eliminated, the request should include specific proposed actions to 
address it.

    Compliance: Required as indicated, unless accomplished 
previously.
    To prevent blockage of the outer door handle flap in an 
intermediate pushed-in position, which may prevent a passenger door 
from opening from the inside of the airplane, accomplish the 
following:

Inspection and Corrective Action

    (a) Within 500 flight hours after the effective date of this AD, 
perform a one-time general visual inspection of the outer handle 
flap mechanisms of the passenger doors for the presence of corrosion 
inhibitor and for correct operation; remove any corrosion inhibitor, 
grease the doors, and check that the flap comes back correctly, 
flush with the door skin, when the handle is in the closed position; 
in accordance with Airbus All Operators Telex (AOT) A320-54A1106, 
dated September 28, 2000.

    Note 2: For the purposes of this AD, a general visual inspection 
is defined as: ``A visual examination of an interior or exterior 
area, installation, or assembly to detect obvious damage, failure, 
or irregularity. This level of inspection is made under normally 
available lighting conditions such as daylight, hangar lighting, 
flashlight, or drop-light, and may require removal or opening of 
access panels or doors. Stands, ladders, or platforms may be 
required to gain proximity to the area being checked.

Alternative Methods of Compliance

    (b) An alternative method of compliance or adjustment of the 
compliance time that provides an acceptable level of safety may be 
used if approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, 
Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA. Operators shall submit their 
requests through an appropriate FAA Principal Maintenance Inspector, 
who may add comments and then send it to the Manager, International 
Branch, ANM-116.

    Note 3: Information concerning the existence of other approved 
alternative methods of compliance with this AD, if any, may be 
obtained from the International Branch, ANM-116.

Special Flight Permits

    (c) Special flight permits may be issued in accordance with 
sections 21.197 and 21.199 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 
CFR 21.197 and 21.199) to operate the airplane to a location where 
the requirements of this AD can be accomplished.

    Note 4: The subject of this AD is addressed in French 
airworthiness directive 2000-519-158(B), dated December 13, 2000.


    Issued in Renton, Washington, on April 19, 2001.
Donald L. Riggin,
Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification 
Service.
[FR Doc. 01-10343 Filed 4-25-01; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-U