[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 181 (Tuesday, September 18, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 57481-57484]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-22831]



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Rules and Regulations
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Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 181 / Tuesday, September 18, 2012 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 57481]]



DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 25

[Docket No. FAA-2012-0984; Special Conditions No. 25-468-SC]


Special Conditions: Embraer S.A., Models EMB-135 and EMB-145 
Series; Airplane 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 Embraer S.A. 
Models EMB-135 and EMB-145 series airplanes. These airplanes will have 
a novel or unusual design feature associated with the airplane seats 
that have 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 September 11, 
2012. We must receive your comments by November 2, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Send comments identified by docket number [FAA-2012-0984] 
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/ 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: Jayson Claar, FAA, Airframe and Cabin 
Safety Branch, ANM-115, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft 
Certification Service, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, Washington 98057-
3356; telephone 425-227-2194; facsimile 425-227-1232.

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.
    We anticipate that seats with non-traditional, large, non-metallic 
panels will be installed in other makes and models of airplanes. We 
have made the determination to require special conditions for all 
applications requesting the installation of seats with non-traditional, 
large, non-metallic panels until the airworthiness requirements can be 
revised to address this issue. Having the same standards across the 
range of airplane makes and models will ensure consistent ruling for 
the aviation industry.

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 April 17, 2012, Embraer S.A. applied for a change to Type 
Certificate No. T00011AT to offer a new passenger seat type that, 
according to the applicant, is lightweight, comfortable, and slim in 
profile, maximizing passenger space in the Models EMB-135 and EMB-145 
series airplanes. The Embraer S.A. Models EMB-135 and EMB-145 series 
airplanes are pressurized, low-wing, ``T'' tail, transport category 
airplanes with tricycle landing gear. They are powered by two Rolls 
Royce model AE3007A series engines, and carry a maximum of 50 
passengers.
    The applicable 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,

[[Page 57482]]

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 the provisions of 14 CFR 21.101, Embraer S.A. must show that 
the Model EMB-135 and EMB145 series airplanes, as changed, continue to 
meet the applicable provisions of the regulations incorporated by 
reference in Type Certificate No. T00011AT 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.'' 
Refer to Type Certificate No. T00011AT for the certification basis.
    Only airplanes associated with new seat certification programs 
approved after the effective date of these special conditions will be 
affected by the requirements in these special conditions. Previously 
certificated interiors on the existing airplane fleet and follow-on 
deliveries of airplanes with previously certificated interiors are not 
affected.
    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 Embraer S.A. Models EMB-135 and 
EMB-145 series airplanes 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, or should any other model already included on 
the same type certificate be modified to incorporate the same 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 Embraer S.A. Models EMB-135 and EMB-145 series 
airplanes 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 Embraer S.A. Models EMB-135 and EMB-145 series airplanes will 
incorporate the following novel or unusual design feature: These models 
offer interior arrangements that include 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 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 25-98 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 their designs. To provide a level of 
safety that is equivalent to that afforded to 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.
    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'' is considered to include panels that are directly 
exposed to the passenger cabin in the traditional sense, and panels 
that are 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. Sec.  25.853(a) 
and 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 extensively researched the effects of 
post-crash flammability in the passenger cabin. As a result of this 
research and service experience, the FAA adopted new rules 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. The materials that comply with the standards (i.e., Sec.  25.853 
titled ``Compartment interiors'' as amended by Amendments 25-61 and 25-
66) extend survival time by approximately two minutes over materials 
that do not comply.
    When Amendment 25-61 was written, the potential application of the 
requirement to seats was explored. The seat frame itself was not a 
concern because it was made primarily of aluminum, and there were only 
small amounts of non-metallic materials (e.g., a food tray table and 
armrest closeout, approximate total surface area of 1.5 square feet). 
The overall effect on survivability was negligible if these panels met 
the heat release and smoke requirements. Therefore the requirements did 
not address seats, and the preambles to both Notice of Proposed Rule 
Making (NPRM) 85-10 and the final rule (Amendment 25-61) specifically 
note that they were excluded because the recently-adopted standards for 
flammability of seat cushions will greatly inhibit involvement of the 
seats.
    In the late 1990s, when 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 FAA 
issued Policy Memorandum 97-112-39, ``Guidance for Flammability Testing 
of Seat/Console Installations,'' dated October 17, 1997. The memo noted 
that large surface area panels must comply with heat release and smoke 
emission

[[Page 57483]]

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.
    The following paragraphs are the pertinent regulatory information 
involving Sec.  25.853.
    NPRM 85-10 (50 FR 15038, April 16, 1985): ``Seats would not be 
tested [to heat release and smoke emission] because the recently-
adopted standards for flammability of seat cushions will greatly 
inhibit involvement of the seats.''
    Final Rule at Amendment 25-61 (51 FR 26206, August 20, 1986): ``The 
primary purpose of the new flammability standards [heat release and 
smoke emission] is to ensure that interior materials with large outer 
surface areas will not become involved rapidly and contribute to a fire 
when exposed to flames.''
    Final Rule at Amendment 25-66 (53 FR 32584, September 26, 1988): 
``Two commentors suggest editorial changes for clarity. One believes 
that a new [section] should be added to state that, `smaller items, 
such as windows, window shades, or curtains, as well as floor 
coverings, floor structure, seats, and service items, are not included 
and do not have to meet the requirements in (a-1) [heat release and 
smoke emission]. All of such materials have to meet the flammability 
requirements prescribed in paragraph (a) [Bunsen burner] of this part.' 
As discussed in the preamble to Notice 85-10, these would be correct 
statements. It does not appear, however, that clarity would be enhanced 
by their addition. These items are clearly not required to comply with 
the new standards [heat release and smoke emission] due to their 
absence in Sec. 25.853(a-1).''
    14 CFR 25.853, Compartment interiors, at Amendment 25-72 (55 FR 
29774, July 20, 1990):
    (c) For airplanes with passenger capacities of 20 or more, interior 
ceiling and wall panels (other than lighting lenses), partitions, and 
the outer surfaces of galleys, large cabinets and stowage compartments 
(other than under seat stowage compartments and compartments for 
stowing small items, such as magazines and maps) must also meet the 
test requirements of parts IV [heat release] and V [smoke emission] of 
Appendix F of this part, or other approved equivalent method, in 
addition to the flammability requirements prescribed in paragraph (a) 
[Bunsen burner] of this section.
    Final Rule at Amendment 25-83 (March 6, 1995):
    ``The distinction between parts with large surface areas, which 
must meet the new standards [heat release and smoke emission], and 
those with smaller surface areas is very difficult * * * 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.''
    The intent of the heat release and smoke emission standards is to 
include minimum panel sizes on the order of one to two square feet. 
This panel size sets the acceptable level of safety in the cabin. 
Traditional seat designs have approximately 1.5 square feet of 
nonmetallic panel material per seat place (a food tray table and 
armrest closeout) and previously have been excluded from the heat 
release and smoke standards. For example, for a traditional economy 
class triple place seat assembly, the exclusion is 4.5 square feet. The 
intent of the Special Conditions is to maintain this accepted level of 
safety and be consistent with the average minimum panel size in the 
balance of the cabin interior. Therefore, we are allowing up to 1.5 
square feet of nonmetallic panel material per seat place to be excluded 
from the heat release and smoke emission standards. However, this 
exclusion from heat release and smoke emission does not provide the 
material additional relief from the other standards such as 14 CFR part 
25 Appendix F, parts I and II. There are no changes to how those 
standards are applied.
    The FAA recognizes that different manufacturing techniques have 
associated cost differences and therefore are allowing the applicant to 
designate which nonmetallic panels comprise the 1.5 square foot 
exclusion. This determination will allow for flexibility in design and 
a manufacturing cost savings.

Applicability

    As discussed above, these special conditions are applicable to the 
Embraer S.A. Models EMB-135 and EMB-145 series airplanes. Should 
Embraer S.A. apply at a later date for a change to the type certificate 
to include another model on the same type certificate incorporating the 
same novel or unusual design feature, the special conditions would 
apply to that model as well.
    Under standard practice, the effective date of final special 
conditions would be 30 days after the date of publication in the 
Federal Register; however, as the certification date for the Embraer 
S.A. Models EMB-135 and EMB-145 series airplanes is imminent, the FAA 
finds that good cause exists to make these special conditions effective 
upon issuance.

Conclusion

    This action affects only certain novel or unusual design features 
on the Embraer S.A. Models EMB-135 and EMB-145 series of airplanes. It 
is not a rule of general applicability.

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 Embraer S.A. Models EMB-135 and EMB-
145 series airplanes.
    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 that do not have smoke and heat release in their 
certification

[[Page 57484]]

basis and do not need to comply with the requirements per 14 CFR 
121.312,
    c. Airplanes exempted from smoke and heat release requirements.
    Definition of ``non-traditional, large, nonmetallic panel''--A non-
traditional, large, nonmetallic 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 areas 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 areas are: arm caps, armrest close-outs such as 
end bays and armrest-styled center consoles, food trays, video monitors 
and shrouds.
    Clarification of ``exposed''--Exposed is considered to include 
panels that are 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. Sec.  25.853(a) and 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, nonmetallic panels covered with 
traditional fabrics or leathers will be tested without their coverings 
or covering attachments.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on September 11, 2012.
Ali Bahrami,
Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-22831 Filed 9-17-12; 8:45 am]
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