[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 58 (Monday, March 26, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 17325-17327]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-7235]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 25

[Docket No. FAA-2012-0325; Notice No. 25-459-SC]


Special Conditions: Airbus, A350-900 Series Airplane; Passenger 
Seats With Non-Traditional, Large, Non-Metallic Panels

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Final special conditions, request for comments.

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SUMMARY: These special conditions are issued for the Airbus A350-900 
series airplane. These airplanes will have a novel or unusual design 
feature(s) associated with seats that include non-traditional, large, 
non-metallic panels that would affect survivability during a post-crash 
fire event. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain 
adequate or appropriate safety standards for this design feature. These 
special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the 
Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety 
equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

DATES: The effective date of these special conditions is March 14, 
2012. We must receive your comments by May 10, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Send comments identified by docket number [FAA-2012-0325] 
using any of the following methods:
     Federal eRegulations Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/and follow the online instructions for sending your 
comments electronically.
     Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M-30, U.S. 
Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room 
W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery or of Courier: Take comments to Docket 
Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 
New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC between 8 a.m., and 5 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at 202-493-2251.
    Privacy: The FAA will post all comments it receives, without 
change, to http://www.regulations.gov/, including any personal 
information the commenter provides. Using the search function of the 
docket Web site, anyone can find and read the electronic form of all 
comments received into any FAA docket, including the name of the 
individual sending the comment (or signing the comment for an 
association, business, labor union, etc.). DOT's complete Privacy Act 
Statement can be found in the Federal Register published on April 11, 
2000 (65 FR 19477-19478), as well as at http://DocketsInfo.dot.gov/.
    Docket: Background documents or comments received may be read at 
http://www.regulations.gov/at any time. Follow the online instructions 
for accessing the docket or go to the Docket Operations in Room @W12-
140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC, between 9 a.m., and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff Gardlin, FAA, Airframe/Cabin 
Safety, ANM-115, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification 
Service, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, Washington, 98057-3356; 
telephone (425) 227-2136; facsimile (425) 227-1320.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Comments Invited

    We invite interested people to take part in this rulemaking by 
sending written comments, data, or views. The most helpful comments 
reference a specific portion of the special conditions, explain the 
reason for any recommended change, and include supporting data.
    We will consider all comments we receive by the closing date for 
comments. We will consider comments filed late if it is possible to do 
so without incurring expense or delay. We may change these special 
conditions based on the comments we receive.

Background

    On August 25, 2008, Airbus applied for a type certificate for their 
new A350-900 series airplane. Later, Airbus requested and the FAA 
approved an extension to the application for FAA type certification to 
June 28, 2009. The A350-900 series has a conventional layout with twin 
wing-mounted Rolls Royce Trent engines. It features a twin aisle 9-
abreast economy class layout, and accommodates side-by-side placement 
of LD-3 containers in the cargo compartment. The basic A350-900 series 
configuration accommodates 315 passengers in a standard two-class 
arrangement. The design cruise speed is Mach 0.85 with a Maximum Take-
Off Weight of 591,000 lbs. Airbus proposes the A350-900 series to be 
certified for extended operations (ETOPS) beyond 180 minutes at entry 
into service for up to a 420-minute maximum diversion time.
    The applicable airplane regulations, Title 14, Code of Federal 
Regulations (14 CFR) part 25, do not require seats to meet the more-
stringent flammability standards required of large, non-metallic panels 
in the cabin interior. At the time the applicable rules were written, 
seats were designed with a metal frame covered by fabric, not with 
large, non-metallic panels. Seats also met the then-recently adopted 
standards for flammability of seat cushions. With the seat design being 
mostly fabric and metal, the contribution to a fire in the cabin had 
been minimized and was not considered a threat. For these reasons, 
seats did not need to be tested to heat-release and smoke-emission 
requirements.
    Seat designs have now evolved to occasionally include non-
traditional, large, non-metallic panels. Taken in total, the surface 
area of these panels is on the same order as the sidewall and overhead 
stowage bin interior panels. To provide the level of passenger 
protection intended by the airworthiness standards, these non-
traditional, large, non-metallic panels in the cabin must meet the 
standards of part 25, Appendix F, parts IV and V, heat-release and 
smoke-emission requirements.

Type Certification Basis

    Under Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) 21.17, Airbus 
must

[[Page 17326]]

show that the A350-900 series meets the applicable provisions of 14 CFR 
part 25, as amended by Amendments 25-1 through 25-128.
    The FAA has determined that Airbus A350-900 series airplanes must 
comply with the following sections: Sec.  25.853(a) and Sec.  
25.853(c), and Amendment 25-61 and Amendment 25-66.
    If the Administrator finds that the applicable airworthiness 
regulations (i.e., 14 CFR part 25) do not contain adequate or 
appropriate safety standards for the A350-900 series because of a novel 
or unusual design feature, special conditions are prescribed under 
Sec.  21.16.
    Special conditions are initially applicable to the model or series 
for which they are issued. Should the type certificate for that model 
be amended later to include any other model that incorporates the same 
or similar novel or unusual design feature, the special conditions 
would also apply to the other model under Sec.  21.101.
    In addition to the applicable airworthiness regulations and special 
conditions, the A350-900 series must comply with the fuel vent and 
exhaust emission requirements of 14 CFR part 34, the noise 
certification requirements of 14 CFR part 36, and the FAA must issue a 
finding of regulatory adequacy under Sec.  611 of Public Law 92-574, 
the ``Noise Control Act of 1972.''
    The FAA issues special conditions, as defined in Sec.  11.19, under 
Sec.  11.38, and they become part of the type-certification basis under 
Sec.  21.17(a)(2).

Novel or Unusual Design Features

    The A350-900 series will incorporate the following novel or unusual 
design features: Passenger seats that incorporate non-traditional, 
large, non-metallic panels in lieu of the traditional metal frame 
covered by fabric. The flammability properties of these panels have 
been shown to significantly affect the survivability of occupants of 
the cabin in the case of fire. These seats are considered a novel 
design for transport category airplanes that include Amendment 25-61 
and Amendment 25-66 in the certification basis, and were not considered 
when those airworthiness standards were established.
    The existing regulations do not provide adequate or appropriate 
safety standards for seat designs that incorporate non-traditional, 
large, non-metallic panels. In order to provide a level of safety that 
is equivalent to that provided by the balance of the cabin, additional 
airworthiness standards, in the form of special conditions, are 
necessary. These special conditions supplement Sec.  25.853. The 
requirements contained in these special conditions consist of applying 
the identical test conditions required of all other large panels in the 
cabin, to seats with non-traditional, large, non-metallic panels.

Definition of ``Non-Traditional, Large, Non-Metallic Panel''

    A non-traditional, large, non-metallic panel, in this case, is 
defined as a panel with exposed-surface areas greater than 1.5 square 
feet installed per seat place. The panel may consist of either a single 
component or multiple components in a concentrated area. Examples of 
parts of the seat where these non-traditional panels are installed 
include, but are not limited to: Seat backs, bottoms and leg/foot 
rests, kick panels, back shells, credenzas and associated furniture. 
Examples of traditional exempted parts of the seat include: Arm caps, 
armrest close-outs such as end bays and armrest-styled center consoles, 
food trays, video monitors and shrouds.

Clarification of ``Exposed''

    ``Exposed'' includes those panels directly exposed to the passenger 
cabin in the traditional sense, plus those panels enveloped such as by 
a dress cover. Traditional fabrics or leathers currently used on seats 
are excluded from these special conditions. These materials must still 
comply with Sec.  25.853(a) and Sec.  25.853(c) if used as a covering 
for a seat cushion, or Sec.  25.853(a) if installed elsewhere on the 
seat. Non-traditional, large, non-metallic panels covered with 
traditional fabrics or leathers will be tested without their coverings 
or covering attachments.

Discussion

    In the early 1980s the FAA conducted extensive research on the 
effects of post-crash flammability in the passenger cabin. As a result 
of this research and service experience, the FAA adopted new standards 
for interior surfaces associated with large surface area parts. 
Specifically, the rules require measurement of heat release and smoke 
emission (part 25, Appendix F, parts IV and V) for the affected parts. 
Heat release has been shown to have a direct correlation with post- 
crash fire survival time. Materials that comply with the standards 
(i.e., Sec. 25.853 entitled ``Compartment interiors'' as amended by 
Amendment 25-61 and Amendment 25-66) extend survival time by 
approximately 2 minutes over materials that do not comply.
    At the time these standards were written the potential application 
of the requirements of heat release and smoke emission to seats was 
explored. The seat frame itself was not a concern because it was 
primarily made of aluminum and there were only small amounts of non-
metallic materials. It was determined that the overall effect on 
survivability was negligible, whether or not the food trays met the 
heat release and smoke requirements. The requirements therefore did not 
address seats. The preambles to both the Notice of Proposed Rule Making 
(NPRM), Notice No. 85-10 (50 FR 15038, April 16, 1985) and the Final 
Rule at Amendment 25-61 (51 FR 26206, July 21, 1986), specifically note 
that seats were excluded ``because the recently-adopted standards for 
flammability of seat cushions will greatly inhibit involvement of the 
seats.''
    Subsequently, the Final Rule at Amendment 25-83 (60 FR 6615, March 
6, 1995) clarified the definition of minimum panel size: ``It is not 
possible to cite a specific size that will apply in all installations; 
however, as a general rule, components with exposed-surface areas of 
one square foot or less may be considered small enough that they do not 
have to meet the new standards. Components with exposed-surface areas 
greater than two square feet may be considered large enough that they 
do have to meet the new standards. Those with exposed-surface areas 
greater than one square foot, but less than two square feet, must be 
considered in conjunction with the areas of the cabin in which they are 
installed before a determination could be made.''
    In the late 1990s, the FAA issued Policy Memorandum 97-112-39, 
Guidance for Flammability Testing of Seat/Console Installations, 
October 17, 1997 (http://rgl.faa.gov). That memo was issued when it 
became clear that seat designs were evolving to include large, non-
metallic panels with surface areas that would impact survivability 
during a cabin fire event, comparable to partitions or galleys. The 
memo noted that large surface area panels must comply with heat release 
and smoke emission requirements, even if they were attached to a seat. 
If the FAA had not issued such policy, seat designs could have been 
viewed as a loophole to the airworthiness standards that would result 
in an unacceptable decrease in survivability during a cabin fire event.
    In October of 2004, an issue was raised regarding the appropriate 
flammability standards for passenger seats that incorporated non-
traditional, large, non-metallic panels in lieu of the traditional 
metal covered by fabric. The Seattle Aircraft Certification Office and 
Transport Standards Staff reviewed this design and determined that it 
represented the kind and quantity of

[[Page 17327]]

material that should be required to pass the heat release and smoke 
emissions requirements. We have determined that special conditions 
would be promulgated to apply the standards defined in 14 CFR 25.853(d) 
to seats with large, non-metallic panels in their design.

Applicability

    As discussed above, these special conditions apply to Airbus A350-
900 series airplanes. Should Airbus apply later for a change to the 
type certificate to include another model incorporating the same novel 
or unusual design feature, the special conditions would apply to that 
model as well.

Conclusion

    This action affects only certain novel or unusual design features 
on Airbus A350-900 series airplanes. It is not a rule of general 
applicability.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 25

    Aircraft, Aviation safety, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

0
The authority citation for these special conditions is as follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701, 44702, 44704.

The Special Conditions

    So, by the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the 
following special conditions are issued as part of the type 
certification basis for Airbus A350-900 series airplanes with passenger 
seats that have non-traditional, large, non-metallic panels.
    1. Compliance with 14 CFR part 25 Appendix F, parts IV and V, heat 
release and smoke emission, is required for seats that incorporate non-
traditional, large nonmetallic panels that may either be a single 
component or multiple components in a concentrated area in their 
design.
    2. The applicant may designate up to and including 1.5 square feet 
of non-traditional, nonmetallic panel material per seat place that does 
not have to comply with No. 1. A triple seat assembly may have a total 
of 4.5 square feet excluded on any portion of the assembly (e.g., 
outboard seat place 1 sq. ft., middle 1 sq. ft., and inboard 2.5 sq. 
ft.).
    3. Seats need not meet the test requirements of 14 CFR part 25 
Appendix F, parts IV and V when installed in compartments that are not 
otherwise required to meet these requirements. Examples include:
    a. Airplanes with passenger capacities of 19 or less,
    b. Airplanes exempted from smoke and heat release requirements.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on March 14, 2012.
John Piccola,
Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-7235 Filed 3-23-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-P