[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 218 (Friday, November 9, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 67251-67254]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-27370]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 25

[Docket No. FAA-2012-1194; Special Conditions No. 25-472-SC]


Special Conditions: Boeing Model 757 Series Airplanes; Seats with 
Non-Traditional, Large, Non-Metallic Panels

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Final special condition; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: These special conditions are issued for the Boeing Model 757 
series airplanes. These airplanes as modified by Flight Structures, 
Inc. will have novel or unusual design features 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 November 5, 
2012. We must receive your comments by December 24, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Send comments identified by docket number [FAA-2012-1194] 
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

[[Page 67252]]

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: John Shelden, FAA, Airframe and Cabin 
Safety Branch, ANM-115, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft 
Certification Service, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, Washington 98057-
3356; telephone 425-227-2785; facsimile 425 227-1232; email 
John.Shelden@faa.gov.

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 April 5, 2012, Flight Structures, Inc. applied for a 
supplemental type certificate for installing seats that include non-
traditional, large, non-metallic panels in Boeing Model 757 series 
airplanes. The Boeing Model 757 series airplanes, currently approved 
under Type Certificate No. A2NM, are swept-wing, conventional tail, 
twin-engine, turbo-fan-powered, single aisle, medium-sized transport 
category airplanes.
    The applicable regulations to airplanes currently approved under 
Type Certificate No. A2NM 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 Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR), part 25, 
Appendix F, parts IV and V, heat release and smoke emission 
requirements.

Type Certification Basis

    Under the provisions of Sec.  21.101, Flight Structures, Inc. must 
show that the Boeing Model 757 series airplanes, as changed, continue 
to meet the applicable provisions of the regulations incorporated by 
reference in Type Certificate No. A2NM 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. A2NM are as follows:
    For Boeing Model 757-200 series airplanes--part 25, as amended by 
Amendment 25-1 through Amendment 25-45. In addition, an equivalent 
safety finding exists with respect to Sec.  25.853(c), Compartment 
interiors.
    For Boeing Model 757-300 series airplanes--part 25, as amended by 
Amendment 25-1 through Amendment 25-85 with the exception listed: 
Section 25.853(d)(3), Compartment interiors, at Amendment 25-72.
    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 Boeing Model 757 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 applicant apply for a supplemental type 
certificate to modify any other model included on the same type 
certificate to incorporate 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 Boeing Model 757 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 Boeing Model 757 series airplanes will incorporate the 
following novel or unusual design features: 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 25-66 in the certification basis, and were not considered 
when those airworthiness standards were established.
    The existing regulations do not provide adequate or appropriate 
safety

[[Page 67253]]

standards for seat designs that incorporate non-traditional, large, 
non-metallic panels in their designs. In order 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.  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 titled ``Compartment interiors'' as amended by 
Amendment 25-61 and Amendment 25-66) extend survival time by 
approximately two 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, 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. 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 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 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 Sec.  25.853(d) to seats with large, non-metallic 
panels in their design.

Applicability

    As discussed above, these special conditions are applicable to the 
Boeing Model 757 series airplanes. Should Flight Structures, Inc. apply 
at a later date for a supplemental type certificate to modify any other 
model included on Type Certificate No. A2NM to incorporate 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 the Boeing Model 757 series of airplanes. It is not a rule of 
general applicability and affects only the applicant who applied to the 
FAA for approval of these features on the airplane.
    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

[[Page 67254]]

Administrator, the following special conditions are issued as part of 
the type certification basis for Boeing Model 757 series airplanes 
modified by Flight Structures, Inc.

Seats With Non-Traditional, Large, Non-Metallic Panels

    1. Except as provided in paragraph 3 of these special conditions, 
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, non-metallic 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, non-metallic panel material per seat place that 
does not have to comply with special condition Number 1, above. 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 square foot, 
middle 1 square foot, and inboard 2.5 square feet).
    3. Seats do not have to 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 Sec.  25.853, Amendment 25-61 or 
later, in their certification basis and do not need to comply with the 
requirements of 14 CFR 121.312, and
    c. Airplanes exempted from Sec.  25.853, Amendment 25-61 or later.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on November, 5, 2012.
Ali Bahrami,
Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification 
Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-27370 Filed 11-8-12; 8:45 am]
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