[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 59 (Tuesday, March 27, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 18099-18102]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-7280]



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Rules and Regulations
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Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 59 / Tuesday, March 27, 2012 / Rules 
and Regulations

[[Page 18099]]



DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 25

[Docket No. FAA-2012-0344; Special Conditions No. 25-461-SC]


Special Conditions: Dassault Aviation, Model Falcon 7X Airplanes; 
Seats With Inflatable Shoulder Straps

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 Dassault Aviation 
Model Falcon 7X airplane. This airplane will have a novel or unusual 
design feature associated with seats with inflatable shoulder straps. 
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 19, 
2012. We must receive your comments by May 11, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2012-0344 
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 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: Dan Jacquet, FAA, Airframe and Cabin 
Safety Branch, ANM-115, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft 
Certification Service, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, Washington 98057-
3356; telephone 425-227-2676; facsimile 425-227-1149.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The FAA has determined that notice of, and 
opportunity for prior public comment on, these special conditions are 
impracticable because these procedures would significantly delay 
issuance of the design approval and thus delivery of the affected 
aircraft. In addition, the substance of these special conditions has 
been subject to the public comment process in several prior instances 
with no substantive comments received. The FAA therefore finds that 
good cause exists for making these special conditions effective upon 
issuance.

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 may change these special conditions based on the comments 
we receive.

Background

    On March 15, 2011, Dassault Aviation applied for a change to Type 
Certificate No. A59NM to install an inflatable restraint system on side 
facing divans in Dassault Aviation Model Falcon 7X airplanes (hereafter 
referred to as ``Falcon 7X''). The Falcon 7X is a 19-passenger, 
transport category airplane powered by three aft-mounted Pratt & 
Whitney PW307A high-bypass-ratio turbofan engines. Maximum takeoff 
weight is 69,000 pounds, and maximum certified altitude is 51,000 feet 
with a range of 5,700 nautical miles.
    The inflatable restraint system is designed to limit occupant 
forward excursion in the event of an accident. This will reduce the 
potential for head injury, thereby reducing the Head Injury Criteria 
(HIC) measurement. The inflatable restraint system behaves similarly to 
an automotive inflatable airbag, but in this case the airbag is 
integrated into the shoulder strap and inflates away from the seated 
occupant. While inflatable airbags are now standard in the automotive 
industry, the use of an inflatable shoulder strap is novel for 
commercial aviation.
    Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) 25.785 requires that 
occupants be protected from head injury by either the elimination of 
any injurious object within the striking radius of the head, or by 
padding. Traditionally, this has required a setback of 35 inches from 
any bulkhead or other rigid interior feature or, where not practical, 
specified types of padding. The relative effectiveness of these means 
of injury protection was not quantified. With the adoption of Amendment 
25-64 to part 25, specifically Sec.  25.562, a new standard that 
quantifies required head injury protection was created.
    Section 25.562 specifies that each seat type design approved for 
crew or passenger occupancy during takeoff and landing must 
successfully complete dynamic tests or be shown to be compliant by 
rational analysis based on dynamic tests of a similar type seat. In 
particular, the regulations require that

[[Page 18100]]

persons not suffer serious head injury under the conditions specified 
in the tests, and that protection must be provided or the seat be 
designed so that the head impact does not exceed a HIC of 1000 units. 
While the test conditions described for HIC are detailed and specific, 
it is the intent of the requirement that an adequate level of head 
injury protection be provided for passengers in a severe crash.
    Because Sec. Sec.  25.562 and 25.785 and associated guidance do not 
adequately address seats with inflatable shoulder straps, the FAA 
recognizes that appropriate pass/fail criteria need to be developed 
that do fully address the safety concerns specific to occupants of 
these seats.

Type Certification Basis

    Under the provisions of 14 CFR 21.101, Dassault Aviation must show 
that the Falcon 7X, as changed, continues to meet the applicable 
provisions of the regulations incorporated by reference in Type 
Certificate No. A59NM or the applicable regulations in effect on the 
date of application for the change. The regulations incorporated by 
reference in the type certificate are commonly referred to as the 
``original type certification basis.'' The regulations incorporated by 
reference in Type Certificate No. A59NM are as follows: 14 CFR part 25, 
effective February 1, 1965, including Amendments 25-1 through 25-111 in 
entirety, and in accordance with 14 CFR part 11, Special Conditions No. 
25-346-SC: High Intensity Radiated Fields (HIRF) Protection.
    The U.S. type certification basis for the Falcon 7X is established 
in accordance with 14 CFR 21.29 and 21.17 and the type certification 
application date. The U.S. type certification basis is listed in Type 
Certification Data Sheet No. A59NM.
    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 Falcon 7X because of a novel or 
unusual design feature, special conditions are prescribed under the 
provisions of Sec.  21.16.
    Special conditions are initially applicable to the model for which 
they are issued. Should the type certificate for that model be amended 
later to include any other model that incorporates the same novel or 
unusual design feature, the special conditions would also apply to the 
other model.
    In addition to the applicable airworthiness regulations and special 
conditions, the Falcon 7X must comply with the fuel vent and exhaust 
emission requirements of 14 CFR part 34 and the noise certification 
requirements of 14 CFR part 36.
    The FAA issues special conditions, as defined in 14 CFR 11.19, in 
accordance with Sec.  11.38, and they become part of the type 
certification basis under Sec.  21.101.

Novel or Unusual Design Features

    The Falcon 7X will incorporate the following novel or unusual 
design feature: Dassault Aviation is proposing to install inflatable 
shoulder straps on side facing divans to reduce the potential for head 
injury in the event of an accident. The inflatable shoulder strap works 
similarly to an automotive airbag, except that the airbag is integrated 
with the shoulder strap of the restraint system.
    Part 25 states the performance criteria for head injury protection 
in objective terms. However, none of these criteria are adequate to 
address the specific issues raised concerning seats with inflatable 
shoulder straps. The FAA has therefore determined that, in addition to 
the requirements of part 25, special conditions are needed to address 
requirements particular to installation of seats with inflatable 
shoulder straps.
    Accordingly, in addition to the passenger injury criteria specified 
in Sec.  25.785, these special conditions are adopted for Falcon 7X 
airplanes equipped with inflatable shoulder straps. Other conditions 
may be developed, as needed, based on further FAA review and 
discussions with the manufacturer and civil aviation authorities.

Discussion

    From the standpoint of a passenger safety system, the inflatable 
shoulder strap is unique in that it is both an active and entirely 
autonomous device. While the automotive industry has good experience 
with airbags, the conditions of use and reliance on the inflatable 
shoulder strap as the sole means of injury protection are quite 
different. In automobile installations, the airbag is a supplemental 
system and works in conjunction with an upper torso restraint. In 
addition, the crash event is more definable and of typically shorter 
duration, which can simplify the activation logic. The airplane 
operating environment is also quite different from automobiles and 
includes the potential for greater wear and tear and unanticipated 
abuse conditions (due to galley loading, passenger baggage, etc.). 
Airplanes also operate where exposure to high intensity electromagnetic 
fields could affect the activation system.
    The inflatable shoulder strap has two potential advantages over 
other means of head impact protection. First, it can provide 
significantly greater protection than would be expected with energy-
absorbing pads; and second, it can provide essentially equivalent 
protection for occupants of all stature. These are significant 
advantages from a safety standpoint, since such devices will likely 
provide a level of safety that exceeds the minimum standards of the 
federal aviation regulations. Conversely, inflatable shoulder straps in 
general are active systems and must be relied upon to activate properly 
when needed, as opposed to an energy-absorbing pad or upper torso 
restraint that is passive and always available. Therefore, the 
potential advantages must be balanced against this and other potential 
disadvantages in order to develop standards for this design feature.
    The FAA has considered the installation of inflatable shoulder 
straps to have two primary safety concerns: First, that they perform 
properly under foreseeable operating conditions, and second, that they 
do not perform in a manner or at such times as would constitute a 
hazard to the airplane or occupants. This latter point has the 
potential to be the more rigorous of the requirements, owing to the 
active nature of the system.
    The inflatable shoulder strap will rely on electronic sensors for 
signaling and a stored gas canister for inflation. These same devices 
could be susceptible to inadvertent activation, causing deployment in a 
potentially unsafe manner. The consequences of inadvertent deployment, 
as well as failure to deploy, must be considered in establishing the 
reliability of the system. Dassault Aviation must substantiate that the 
effects of an inadvertent deployment in flight either would not cause 
injuries to occupants or that such deployment(s) meet the requirement 
of Sec.  25.1309(b). The effect of an inadvertent deployment on a 
passenger or crewmember that might be positioned close to the 
inflatable shoulder strap should also be considered. The person could 
be either standing or sitting. A minimum reliability level will have to 
be established for this case, depending upon the consequences, even if 
the effect on the airplane is negligible.
    The potential for an inadvertent deployment could be increased as a 
result of conditions in service. The installation must take into 
account wear and tear so that the likelihood of an inadvertent 
deployment is not increased to an unacceptable level. In this context, 
an appropriate inspection interval and self-test capability are 
considered

[[Page 18101]]

necessary. Other outside influences are lightning and high intensity 
radiated fields (HIRF). Existing HIRF special conditions for the 
Dassault Aviation Model Falcon 7X airplanes, Special Conditions No. 25-
346-SC, are applicable. Finally, the inflatable shoulder strap 
installation should be protected from the effects of fire, so that an 
additional hazard is not created by, for example, a rupture of the 
pyrotechnic squib.
    In order to be an effective safety system, the inflatable shoulder 
strap must function properly and must not introduce any additional 
hazards to occupants as a result of its functioning. There are several 
areas where the inflatable shoulder strap differs from traditional 
occupant protection systems, and requires special conditions to ensure 
adequate performance.
    Because the inflatable shoulder strap is essentially a single use 
device, there is the potential that it could deploy under crash 
conditions that are not sufficiently severe as to require head injury 
protection from the inflatable shoulder strap. Since an actual crash is 
frequently composed of a series of impacts before the airplane comes to 
rest, this could render the inflatable shoulder strap useless if a 
larger impact follows the initial impact. This situation does not exist 
with energy absorbing pads or upper torso restraints, which tend to 
provide continuous protection regardless of severity or number of 
impacts in a crash event. Therefore, the inflatable shoulder strap 
installation should provide protection, when it is required, by not 
expending its protection during a less severe impact. Also, it is 
possible to have several large impact events during the course of a 
crash, but there is no requirement for the inflatable shoulder strap to 
provide protection for multiple impacts.
    Since each occupant's restraint system provides protection for that 
occupant only, the installation must address seats that are unoccupied. 
It will be necessary to show that the required protection is provided 
for each occupant regardless of the number of occupied seats, and 
considering that unoccupied seats may have shoulder straps that are 
active.
    The inflatable shoulder straps should be effective for a wide range 
of occupants. The FAA has historically considered the range from the 
fifth percentile female to the ninety-fifth percentile male as the 
range of occupants that must be taken into account. In this case, the 
FAA is proposing consideration of a broader range of occupants, due to 
the nature of the shoulder straps installation and its close proximity 
to the occupant. In a similar vein, these persons could have assumed 
the brace position, for those accidents where an impact is anticipated. 
Test data indicate that occupants in the brace position do not require 
supplemental protection, and so it would not be necessary to show that 
the inflatable shoulder straps will enhance the brace position. 
However, the inflatable shoulder straps must not introduce a hazard in 
the case of deploying into the seated, braced occupant.
    Another area of concern is the use of seats, so equipped, by 
children whether lap-held, in approved child safety seats, or occupying 
the seat directly. Similarly, if the seat is occupied by a pregnant 
woman, the installation should address such usage, either by 
demonstrating that it will function properly, or by adding appropriate 
limitation on usage.
    Since the inflatable shoulder strap will be electrically powered, 
there is the possibility that the system could fail due to a separation 
in the fuselage. Since this system is intended as crash/post-crash 
protection means, failure to deploy due to fuselage separation is not 
acceptable. As with emergency lighting, the system should function 
properly if such a separation occurs at any point in the fuselage.
    Since the inflatable shoulder strap is likely to have a large 
volume displacement, the inflated bag could potentially impede egress 
of passengers. Since the bag deflates to absorb energy, it is likely 
that an inflatable shoulder strap would be deflated at the time that 
persons would be trying to leave their seats. Nonetheless, it is 
considered appropriate to specify a time interval after which the 
inflatable shoulder strap may not impede rapid egress. Ten seconds has 
been chosen as a reasonable time, since this corresponds to the maximum 
time allowed for an exit to be openable (Sec.  25.809). In actuality, 
it is unlikely that an exit would be prepared by a flight attendant 
this quickly in an accident severe enough to warrant deployment of the 
inflatable shoulder strap, and the inflatable shoulder strap is 
expected to deflate much quicker than ten seconds.
    Part I of appendix F to part 25 specifies the flammability 
requirements for interior materials and components. There is no 
reference to inflatable restraint systems in appendix F, because such 
devices did not exist at the time the flammability requirements were 
written. The existing requirements are based on both material types, as 
well as use, and have been specified in light of the state-of-the-art 
of materials available to perform a given function. In the absence of a 
specific reference, the default requirement would be for the type of 
material used to construct the inflatable restraint, which is a fabric 
in this case. However, in writing special conditions, the FAA must also 
consider the use of the material, and whether the default requirement 
is appropriate. In this case, the specialized function of the 
inflatable shoulder strap means that highly specialized materials are 
needed. The standard normally applied to fabrics is a 12-second 
vertical ignition test. However, materials that meet this standard do 
not perform adequately as inflatable shoulder straps. Since the safety 
benefit of the inflatable shoulder strap is significant, the 
flammability standard appropriate for these devices should not screen 
out suitable materials, thereby effectively eliminating use of 
inflatable shoulder straps. The FAA will need to establish a balance 
between the safety benefit of the inflatable shoulder strap and its 
flammability performance. At this time, the 2.5-inch per minute 
horizontal test is considered to provide that balance. As the 
technology in materials progresses (which is expected), the FAA may 
change this standard in subsequent special conditions to account for 
improved materials.
    The following special conditions can be characterized as addressing 
either the safety performance of the system or the system's integrity 
against inadvertent activation. Because a crash requiring use of the 
inflatable shoulder strap is a relatively rare event, and because the 
consequences of an inadvertent activation are potentially quite severe, 
these latter requirements are probably the more rigorous from a design 
standpoint.
    Finally, it should be noted that these special conditions are 
applicable to the inflatable shoulder straps as installed. These 
special conditions are not an installation approval. Therefore, while 
these special conditions relate to each such system installed, the 
overall installation approval is a separate finding and must consider 
the combined effects of all such systems installed.

Applicability

    As discussed above, these special conditions are applicable to the 
Dassault Aviation Model Falcon 7X. Should Dassault Aviation apply at a 
later date 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.

[[Page 18102]]

Conclusion

    This action affects only certain novel or unusual design features 
on one model of airplanes. It is not a rule of general applicability.
    The substance of these special conditions has been subjected to the 
notice and comment period in several prior instances and has been 
derived without substantive change from those previously issued. It is 
unlikely that prior public comment would result in a significant change 
from the substance contained herein. Therefore, because a delay would 
significantly affect the certification of the airplane, which is 
imminent, the FAA has determined that prior public notice and comment 
are unnecessary and impracticable, and good cause exists for adopting 
these special conditions upon issuance. The FAA is requesting comments 
to allow interested persons to submit views that may not have been 
submitted in response to the prior opportunities for comment described 
above.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 25

    Aircraft, Aviation safety, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

    The authority citation for these special conditions is as follows:

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

The Special Conditions

    Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the 
Administrator, the following special conditions are issued as part of 
the type certification basis for Dassault Aviation Model Falcon 7X 
airplanes.
    1. Seats with Inflatable Shoulder Straps. It must be shown that the 
airbag system in the shoulder strap will deploy and provide protection 
under crash conditions where it is necessary to prevent serious injury. 
The means of protection must take into consideration a range of stature 
from a two-year-old child to a ninety-fifth percentile male. The airbag 
system in the shoulder strap must provide a consistent approach to 
energy absorption throughout that range of occupants. In addition, the 
following situations must be considered:
    a. The seat occupant is holding an infant.
    b. The seat occupant is a child in a child restraint device.
    c. The seat occupant is a child not using a child restraint device.
    d. The seat occupant is a pregnant woman.
    2. The airbag system in the shoulder strap must provide adequate 
protection for each occupant regardless of the number of occupants of 
the seat assembly, considering that unoccupied seats may have an active 
airbag system in the shoulder strap.
    3. The design must prevent the airbag system in the shoulder strap 
from being either incorrectly buckled or incorrectly installed, such 
that the airbag system in the shoulder strap would not properly deploy. 
Alternatively, it must be shown that such deployment is not hazardous 
to the occupant and will provide the required injury protection.
    4. It must be shown that the airbag system in the shoulder strap is 
not susceptible to inadvertent deployment as a result of wear and tear 
or inertial loads resulting from in-flight or ground maneuvers 
(including gusts and hard landings) and other operating and 
environmental conditions (vibrations, moisture, etc.) likely to be 
experienced in service.
    5. Deployment of the airbag system in the shoulder strap must not 
introduce injury mechanisms to the seated occupant or result in 
injuries that could impede rapid egress. This assessment should include 
an occupant whose belt is loosely fastened.
    6. It must be shown that inadvertent deployment of the airbag 
system in the shoulder strap, during the most critical part of the 
flight, will either meet the requirement of Sec.  25.1309(b) or not 
cause a hazard to the airplane or its occupants.
    7. It must be shown that the airbag system in the shoulder strap 
will not impede rapid egress of occupants 10 seconds after airbag 
deployment.
    8. The airbag system must be protected from lightning and HIRF. The 
threats to the airplane specified in existing regulations regarding 
lightning, Sec.  25.1316, and special conditions regarding HIRF, 
Special Condition No. 25-346-SC, are incorporated by reference for the 
purpose of measuring lightning and HIRF protection. For the purposes of 
complying with HIRF requirements, the airbag system in the shoulder 
strap is considered a ``critical system'' if its deployment could have 
a hazardous effect on the airplane; otherwise, it is considered an 
``essential'' system.
    9. The airbag system in the shoulder strap must function properly 
after loss of normal aircraft electrical power and after a transverse 
separation of the fuselage at the most critical location. A separation 
at the location of the airbag system in the shoulder strap does not 
have to be considered.
    10. It must be shown that the airbag system in the shoulder strap 
will not release hazardous quantities of gas or particulate matter into 
the cabin.
    11. The airbag system in the shoulder strap installation must be 
protected from the effects of fire such that no hazard to occupants 
will result.
    12. There must be a means for a crewmember to verify the integrity 
of the airbag system in the shoulder strap activation system prior to 
each flight, or it must be demonstrated to reliably operate between 
inspection intervals. The FAA considers the loss of the airbag-system 
deployment function alone (i.e., independent of the conditional event 
that requires the airbag system deployment) to be a major failure 
condition.
    13. With regard to Sec.  25.853, the inflatable material may not 
have an average burn rate of greater than 2.5 inches/minute when tested 
using the horizontal flammability test defined in part 25, appendix F, 
part I, paragraph (b)(5).
    14. The airbag system in the shoulder strap, once deployed, must 
not adversely affect the emergency-lighting system (i.e., block floor 
proximity lights to the extent that the lights no longer meet their 
intended function).

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on March 19, 2012.
Ali Bahrami,
Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-7280 Filed 3-26-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-P