[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 236 (Friday, December 7, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 72913-72915]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-28044]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 39

[Docket No. FAA-2012-0500; Directorate Identifier 2010-SW-014-AD; 
Amendment 39-17263; AD 2012-23-07]
RIN 2120-AA64


Airworthiness Directives; Eurocopter Deutschland GmbH Helicopters

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all 
Eurocopter Deutschland GmbH (ECD) Model EC135 helicopters, except the 
EC 135 P2+ and T2+. This AD requires inspecting each upper and lower 
plain journal bearing (bearing) and replacing the swashplate assembly 
with an airworthy swashplate assembly if a bearing is not correctly 
positioned. This AD was prompted by two reports of the bearings moving 
in relation to the main rotor swashplate sliding sleeve (sliding 
sleeve). The actions of this AD are intended to detect shifting of the 
bearing, which could limit the movement of the collective control and 
result in subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

DATES: This AD is effective January 11, 2013.

ADDRESSES: For service information identified in this AD, contact 
American Eurocopter Corporation, 2701 Forum Drive, Grand Prairie, TX 
75053-4005, telephone (800) 232-0323, fax (972) 641-3710, or at http://www.eurocopter.com. You may review the referenced service information 
at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 2601 
Meacham Blvd., Room 663, Fort Worth, Texas 76137.

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, any incorporated-by-reference 
service information, the economic evaluation, any comments received, 
and other information. The street address for the Docket Operations 
Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is U.S. Department of Transportation, 
Docket Operations Office, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-
140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gary Roach, Aviation Safety Engineer, 
FAA, Rotorcraft Directorate, Regulations and Policy Group, 2601 Meacham 
Blvd., Fort Worth, Texas 76137, telephone (817) 222-5110, email 
gary.b.roach@faa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Discussion

    On May 11, 2012, at 77 FR 27661, the Federal Register published our 
notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), which proposed to amend 14 CFR 
part 39 to include an AD that would apply to all Eurocopter Deutschland 
GmbH (ECD) model EC135 helicopters, except the EC 135 P2+ and T2+. That 
NPRM proposed to require repetitively inspecting the

[[Page 72914]]

bearings and replacing the swashplate assembly if a bearing is not 
correctly positioned. The NPRM also provided that replacing the 
swashplate assembly terminated the proposed inspection requirements. 
The proposed requirements were intended to detect shifting of a 
bearing, which could limit the movement of the collective control and 
result in loss of control of the helicopter.
    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical 
Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued AD No. 
2009-0272, dated December 18, 2009 (AD 2009-0272), to correct an unsafe 
condition for Eurocopter Model EC 135 and EC 635 helicopters. EASA 
advises that during two separate pre-flight checks on Model EC 135 
helicopters in 2005, it was detected that one of the bearings of the 
sliding sleeve had moved to the outside of the sliding sleeve. EASA 
states that this condition, if not detected and corrected, could lead 
to a complete shift of the bearing to the inside or outside, creating 
the possibility of a limited movement of the collective, which could 
result in reduced control of the helicopter.

Comments

    We gave the public the opportunity to participate in developing 
this AD, but we received no comments on the NPRM (77 FR 27661, May 11, 
2012).

FAA's Determination

    These helicopters have been approved by the aviation authority of 
Germany and are approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant 
to our bilateral agreement with Germany, EASA, its 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 and that air safety and the public interest require 
adopting the AD requirements as proposed.

Differences Between This AD and the EASA AD

    This AD differs from the EASA AD as follows:
     This AD requires the visual inspection to be performed by 
a mechanic, and repeated every 5 hours TIS. The EASA AD allows the 
visual inspection to be accomplished by a pilot during a preflight 
inspection.
     This AD does not require contacting ECD customer service 
for corrective actions.
     This AD provides terminating action for the inspection 
requirements for the bearings by replacing the swashplate assembly with 
a later-design swashplate assembly, part number L623M2005103.
     The EASA AD applies to ECD model EC635 aircraft, and this 
AD does not because the EC635 does not have an FAA issued type-
certificate.

Related Service Information

    We reviewed Eurocopter Alert Service Bulletin (ASB) EC135-62A-021, 
dated June 23, 2005 (EC135-62A-021). EC135-62A-021 describes procedures 
for visually checking the bearings of the sliding sleeve during 
preflight. EASA classified this ASB as mandatory and issued AD 2009-
0272 to ensure the continued airworthiness of these helicopters.

Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this AD will affect 218 helicopters of U.S. 
registry and that operators will incur the following costs to comply 
with this AD:
     Inspecting the bearings requires about 15 minutes at an 
average labor rate of $85 per hour, for a cost per helicopter of about 
$22 and a total cost to the U.S. operator fleet of $4,796 per 
inspection cycle.
     If required, replacing the swashplate assembly will take 
about 8 work hours at an average labor rate of $85 per hour, and 
required parts will cost about $38,586, for a total cost per helicopter 
of $39,266.

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 helicopters identified in this 
rulemaking action.

Regulatory Findings

    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 above, 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 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 airworthiness 
directive (AD):

2012-23-07 Eurocopter Deutschland GmbH Helicopters: Amendment 39-
17263; Docket No. FAA-2012-0500; Directorate Identifier 2010-SW-014-
AD.

(a) Applicability

    This AD applies to all Eurocopter Deutschland GmbH (ECD) Model 
EC135 helicopters, except EC 135 P2+ and EC135 T2+, with a 
swashplate assembly, part number (P/N) L623M2006101, installed, 
certificated in any category.

(b) Unsafe Condition

    This AD defines the unsafe condition as movement of the plain 
journal bearings to the outside of the main rotor swashplate sliding 
sleeve (sliding sleeve). This condition could limit movement of the 
collective and result in subsequent loss of control of the 
helicopter.

[[Page 72915]]

(c) Effective Date

    This AD becomes effective January 11, 2013.

(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) Required Actions

    Within 5 hours time-in-service (TIS), and thereafter at 
intervals not to exceed 5 hours TIS:
    (1) Visually inspect the position of the upper plain journal 
bearing and determine if it is flush with the sliding sleeve.

    Note to paragraph (e)(1) of this AD: Figure 1 of Eurocopter 
Alert Service Bulletin EC135-62A-021, dated June 23, 2005, which is 
not incorporated by reference, contains additional information about 
the inspection.

    (2) Visually inspect the lower plain journal bearing and 
determine if it is recessed 2 millimeters from the sliding sleeve.
    (3) If the upper plain journal bearing is not flush with the 
sliding sleeve or the lower plain journal bearing is not recessed 2 
mm, before further flight, replace the swashplate assembly with an 
airworthy swashplate assembly.
    (4) Replacing the swashplate assembly, P/N L623M2006101, with a 
later designed swashplate assembly, P/N L623M2005103, constitutes a 
terminating action for the requirements of this AD.

(f) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    (1) The Manager, Safety Management Group, FAA, may approve AMOCs 
for this AD. Send your proposal to: Gary Roach, Aviation Safety 
Engineer, FAA, Rotorcraft Directorate, Regulations and Policy Group, 
2601 Meacham Blvd., Fort Worth, Texas 76137, telephone (817) 222-
5110, email gary.b.roach@faa.gov.
    (2) For operations conducted under a 14 CFR part 119 operating 
certificate or under 14 CFR 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

    (1) Eurocopter Alert Service Bulletin EC135-62A-021, dated June 
23, 2005, which is not incorporated by reference, contains 
additional information about the subject of this AD. For service 
information identified in this AD, contact American Eurocopter 
Corporation, 2701 Forum Drive, Grand Prairie, TX 75053-4005, 
telephone (800) 232-0323, fax (972) 641-3710, or at http://www.eurocopter.com. You may review a copy of the service information 
at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 2601 
Meacham Blvd., Room 663, Fort Worth, Texas 76137.
    (2) The subject of this AD is addressed in European Aviation 
Safety Agency AD 2009-0272, dated December 18, 2009.

(h) Subject

    Joint Aircraft Service Component (JASC) Code: 6230: Main Rotor 
Mast/Swashplate.

    Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on November 8, 2012.
Lance T. Gant,
Acting Directorate Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate, Aircraft 
Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-28044 Filed 12-6-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-P