[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 15 (Tuesday, January 24, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 3382-3384]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-366]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 39

[Docket No. FAA-2011-1454; Directorate Identifier 2011-SW-054-AD; 
Amendment 39-16910; AD 2011-27-08]
RIN 2120-AA64


Airworthiness Directives; Agusta S.p.A. Helicopters

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Final rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all 
Agusta S.p.A. (Agusta) model A109S and AW109SP helicopters. This AD is 
prompted by a fatigue crack found in the left elevator assembly along 
the riveting of the upper skin to the fourth rib on an Agusta A109S 
helicopter. These actions are intended to detect a crack, which could 
lead to a failure of the elevator, reduced maneuverability of the 
helicopter, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

DATES: This AD becomes effective February 8, 2012.
    The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by 
reference of certain documents listed in this AD as of February 8, 
2012.
    We must receive comments on this AD by March 26, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may send comments by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Docket: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for sending your 
comments electronically.
     Fax: (202) 493-2251.
     Mail: Send comments to the U.S. Department of 
Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery: Deliver to the ``Mail'' address between 9 
a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
    Examining the AD Docket: You may examine the AD docket on the 
Internet at http://www.regulations.gov or in person at the Docket 
Operations Office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the economic 
evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street 
address for the Docket Operations Office (telephone (800) 647-5527) is 
in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket 
shortly after receipt.
    For service information identified in this AD, contact Agusta 
Westland, Customer Support & Services, Via Per Tornavento 15, 21019 
Somma Lombardo (VA) Italy, ATTN: Giovanni Cecchelli; telephone 39-0331-
711133; fax 39 0331 711180; or at http://www.agustawestland.com/technical-bullettins. You may review copies of the referenced service 
information at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest 
Region, 2601 Meacham Blvd., Room 663, Fort Worth, Texas 76137.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Grigg, Manager, FAA, Rotorcraft 
Directorate, Safety Management Group, 2601 Meacham Blvd. Fort Worth TX 
76137, telephone (817) 222-5126, fax (817) 222-5961, email 
jim.grigg@faa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Comments Invited

    This AD is a final rule that involves requirements affecting flight 
safety, and we did not provide you with notice and an opportunity to 
provide your comments prior to it becoming effective. However, we 
invite you to participate in this rulemaking by submitting written 
comments, data, or views. We also invite comments relating to the 
economic, environmental, energy, or federalism impacts that resulted 
from adopting this AD. The most helpful comments reference a specific 
portion of the AD, explain the reason for any recommended change, and 
include supporting data. To ensure the docket does not contain 
duplicate comments, commenters should send only one copy of written 
comments, or if comments are filed electronically, commenters should 
submit them only one time.
    We will file in the docket all comments that we receive, as well as 
a report summarizing each substantive

[[Page 3383]]

public contact with FAA personnel concerning this rulemaking during the 
comment period. We will consider all the comments we receive and may 
conduct additional rulemaking based on those comments.

Discussion

    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical 
Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA AD 
2011-0150, dated August 9, 2011 (AD 2011-0150), to correct an unsafe 
condition for the Agusta A109S and AW109SP helicopters. EASA advises 
that a fracture of the left elevator assembly part number (P/N) 109-
0200-02-601, along the riveting of the upper skin to the fourth rib has 
recently occurred on an A109S helicopter. The elevator assembly, left 
and right, P/N 109-0200-02-601 or -801, and 109-0200-02-602 or -802, 
installed on an A109S helicopter are very similar to the elevator 
assembly, left and right, P/N 109-0200-02-803 and -804, installed on 
the AW109SP helicopter. The technical investigation conducted by Agusta 
revealed that the crack in the left elevator assembly was due to 
fatigue. The EASA AD requires, as an interim measure pending the 
development of a terminating action, repetitive inspections of the 
elevator upper skin in the area of the fourth rib, and if a crack is 
found, replacing the cracked elevator assembly with a serviceable unit 
or contacting Agusta for an approved repair.

FAA's Determination

    These helicopters have been approved by the aviation authority of 
Italy and are approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to 
our bilateral agreement with Italy, EASA, their technical 
representative, has notified us of the unsafe condition described in 
the EASA AD. We are issuing this AD because we evaluated all 
information provided by EASA and determined the unsafe condition exists 
and is likely to exist or develop on other helicopters of these same 
type designs.

Related Service Information

    We reviewed Agusta Mandatory Bollettino Tecnico (ABT) No. 109S-44 
and No 109SP-032, both dated August 5, 2011. The ABTs describe 
procedures for visually inspecting with a 5-10X magnifying glass to 
verify the presence of cracks on the upper skin of the left elevator 
assembly, P/N 109-0200-02-601 or -801, and right elevator assembly, P/N 
109-0200-02-602 or -802, on the A109S and P/N 109-0200-02-803 and -804 
on the AW109SP. The ABTs also provide instructions to carry out a dye 
penetrant inspection if there is any doubt as to the presence of a 
crack during the visual inspection. EASA classified this service 
information as mandatory and issued AD No. 2011-0150 to ensure the 
continued airworthiness of these helicopters.

AD Requirements

    This AD requires an inspection of the area depicted in figure 1 of 
the manufacturer's service bulletin.
     For elevator assemblies with less than 400 hours time-in-
service (TIS), upon or before reaching 400 hours TIS, and thereafter at 
intervals not to exceed 50 hours TIS, inspect with a 10X power 
magnifying glass an area of the left and right elevator upper skin for 
a crack along the 4th rib station rivet line.
     For elevator assemblies with 400 or more hours TIS, within 
30 hours TIS, and thereafter at intervals not to exceed 50 hours TIS, 
inspect with a 10X power magnifying glass an area of the left and right 
elevator upper skin for a crack along the 4th rib station rivet line.
     Replace any cracked elevator assembly with an airworthy 
elevator assembly before further flight.

Differences Between This AD and the EASA AD

    The EASA AD specifies a 5-10X power magnifying glass; this AD 
specifies a 10X power or higher magnifying glass.

Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this AD will affect 14 helicopters of U.S. 
Registry.
    We estimate that operators may incur the following costs in order 
to comply with this AD. Inspecting the elevator assemblies will require 
3 work-hours at an average labor rate of $85 per hour, for a cost of 
$255 per inspection cycle. To replace a cracked elevator assembly with 
an airworthy elevator assembly will require 10 work-hours at an average 
labor rate of $85 per hour, and parts will cost $19,921, for a cost per 
helicopter of $20,771.
    According to the PAHs service information some of the costs of this 
AD may be covered under warranty, thereby reducing the cost impact on 
affected individuals. We do not control warranty coverage by the PAH. 
Accordingly, we have included all costs in our cost estimate.

FAA's Justification and Determination of the Effective Date

    Providing an opportunity for public comments prior to adopting 
these AD requirements would delay implementing the safety actions 
needed to correct this known unsafe condition. Therefore, we find that 
the risk to the flying public justifies waiving notice and comment 
prior to the adoption of this rule because some of the required 
corrective actions must be accomplished within 30 hours time-in-
service, a very short time period based on the average flight-hour 
utilization rate of these helicopters.
    Since an unsafe condition exists that requires the immediate 
adoption of this AD, we determined that notice an opportunity for 
public comment before issuing this AD are impracticable and contrary to 
the public interest and that good cause exists for making this 
amendment effective in less than 30 days.

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.
    We are 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

    We determined that 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, I certify that this AD:
    1. Is not a ``significant regulatory action'' under Executive Order 
12866;
    2. Is not a ``significant rule'' under DOT Regulatory Policies and 
Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979);
    3. Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska to the extent that 
it justifies making a regulatory distinction; and
    4. Will not have a significant economic impact, positive or 
negative, on a substantial number of small entities

[[Page 3384]]

under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.
    We prepared an economic evaluation of the estimated costs to comply 
with this AD and placed it in the AD docket.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

    Air transportation, Aircraft, Aviation safety, Incorporation by 
Reference, Safety.

Adoption of the Amendment

    Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the 
Administrator, the FAA amends 14 CFR part 39 as follows:

PART 39--AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES

0
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]

0
2. The FAA amends Sec.  39.13 by adding the following new AD:

2011-27-08 Agusta S.p.A.: Amendment 39-16910; Docket No. FAA-2011-
1454; Directorate Identifier 2011-SW-054-AD.

(a) Applicability

    This AD applies to model A109S and AW109SP helicopters with 
elevator assemblies, part number (P/N) 109-0200-02-601, 109-0200-02-
801, 109-0200-02-602, 109-0200-02-802, 109-0200-02-803, or 109-0200-
02-804 installed, certificated in any category.

(b) Unsafe Condition

    This AD defines the unsafe condition as a fatigue crack on the 
elevator assembly. This condition could result in failure of the 
elevator, reduced maneuverability of the helicopter, and subsequent 
loss of control of the helicopter.

(c) Effective Date

    This airworthiness directive (AD) becomes effective February 8, 
2012.

(d) Compliance

    You are responsible for performing each action required by this 
AD within the specified compliance time unless it has already been 
accomplished prior to that time.

(e) Corrective Action

    (1) For elevator assemblies with less than 400 hours time-in-
service (TIS), upon or before reaching 400 hours TIS, and thereafter 
at intervals not to exceed 50 hours TIS, inspect the left and right 
elevator upper skin along the 4th rib station rivet line from the 
leading edge to 200 mm inboard with a 10X or higher magnifying glass 
for a crack in the area depicted in Figure 1 of Agusta Mandatory 
Bollettino Tecnico (ABT) No. 109S-44 or 109SP-032, both dated August 
5, 2011, for your model helicopter.
    (2) For elevator assemblies with 400 or more hours TIS, within 
the next 30 hours TIS, and thereafter at intervals not to exceed 50 
hours TIS, inspect the left and right elevator upper skin along the 
4th rib station rivet line from the leading edge to 200 mm inboard 
with a 10X or higher magnifying glass for a crack in the area 
depicted in Figure 1 of the ABT for your model helicopter.
    (3) If there is a crack, replace the cracked elevator assembly 
with an airworthy elevator assembly before further flight.

(f) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    (1) The Manager, Safety Management Group, FAA, may approve AMOCs 
for this AD. Send your proposal to: Jim Grigg, Manager, FAA, 
Rotorcraft Directorate, Safety Management Group, 2601 Meacham Blvd., 
Fort Worth, TX 76137, telephone (817) 222-5126, fax (817) 222-5961, 
email jim.grigg@faa.gov.
    (2) For operations conducted under a Part 119 operating 
certificate or under Part 91, Subpart K, we suggest that you notify 
your principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the 
manager of the local flight standards district office or certificate 
holding district office, before operating any aircraft complying 
with this AD through an AMOC.

(g) Additional Information

    The subject of this AD is addressed in European Aviation Safety 
Agency (EASA) AD No. 2011-0150, dated August 11, 2011.

 (h) Subject

    Joint Aircraft System Component (JASC) Code 5520: Elevator 
Structure.

(i) Material Incorporated by Reference

    You must use the specified portions of the service information 
specified in this AD to do the actions required. The Director of the 
Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of this 
service information under 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51.
    (1) Agusta Mandatory Bollettino Tecnico No. 109S-44, dated 
August 5, 2011, for model A109S helicopters; or
    (2) Agusta Mandatory Bollettino Tecnico No. 109SP-032, dated 
August 5, 2011, for model AW109SP helicopters.
    (3) For service information identified in this AD, contact 
Agusta Westland, Customer Support & Services, Via Per Tornavento 15, 
21019 Somma Lombardo (VA) Italy, ATTN: Giovanni Cecchelli; telephone 
39-0331-711133; fax 39 0331 711180; or at http://www.agustawestland.com/technical-bullettins.
    (4) You may review copies of the referenced service information 
at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 2601 
Meacham Blvd., Room 663, Fort Worth, Texas 76137 or at the National 
Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the 
availability of this material at NARA, call (202) 741-6030, or go 
to: http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal_regulations/ibr_locations.html

    Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on December 27, 2011.
M. Monica Merritt,
Acting Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-366 Filed 1-23-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-P