[Federal Register Volume 61, Number 220 (Wednesday, November 13, 1996)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 58145-58147]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 96-28945]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 39

[Docket No. 92-CE-25-AD]
RIN 2120-AA64


Airworthiness Directives; Avions Pierre Robin Model R2160 
Airplanes

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration, DOT.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

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SUMMARY: This document proposes to adopt a new airworthiness directive 
(AD) that would apply to Avions Pierre Robin Model R2160 airplanes. The 
proposed action would require repetitively inspecting the weld area 
between the strut and the lower plate of the nose landing gear leg for 
cracks, and replacing the strut when cracks are found. The proposed AD 
is the result of several reports of cracks in the weld securing the 
nose wheel steering bottom bracket to the nose landing gear leg on the 
affected airplanes. The actions specified by the proposed AD are 
intended to prevent nose landing gear failure caused by cracks in the 
weld area between the strut and the lower plate of the nose landing 
gear leg, which could result in loss of control of the airplane during 
landing operations.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before January 31, 1997.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments in triplicate to the Federal Aviation 
Administration (FAA), Central Region, Office of the Assistant Chief 
Counsel, Attention: Rules Docket No. 92-CE-25-AD, Room 1558, 601 E. 
12th Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64106. Comments may be inspected at 
this location between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
holidays excepted.
    Service information that applies to the proposed AD may be obtained 
from Avions Pierre Robin, 1, Route de Troyes, 21121 Darois France; 
telephone: 80 35 61 01; facsimile: 80 35 60 80. This information also 
may be examined at the Rules Docket at the address below.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Greg Holt, Program Manager, 
Brussels Aircraft Certification Division, FAA, Europe, Africa, and 
Middle East Office, c/o American Embassy, B-1000 Brussels, Belgium; 
telephone (32 2) 513.2692; facsimile (32 2) 230.6899; or Mr. Roman T. 
Gabrys, Project Officer, Small Airplane Directorate, Aircraft 
Certification Office, FAA, 1201 Walnut, suite 900, Kansas City, 
Missouri 64106; telephone (816) 426-6934; facsimile (816) 426-2169.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Comments Invited

    Interested persons are invited to participate in the making of the 
proposed rule by submitting such written data, views, or arguments as 
they may desire. Communications should identify the Rules Docket number 
and be submitted in triplicate to the address specified above. All 
communications received on or before the closing date for comments, 
specified above, will be considered before taking action on the 
proposed rule. The proposals contained in this notice may be changed in 
light of the comments received.
    Comments are specifically invited on the overall regulatory, 
economic, environmental, and energy aspects of the proposed rule. All 
comments submitted will be available, both before and after the closing 
date for comments, in the Rules Docket for examination by interested 
persons. A report that summarizes each FAA-public contact concerned 
with the substance of this proposal will be filed in the Rules Docket.
    Commenters wishing the FAA to acknowledge receipt of their comments 
submitted in response to this notice must submit a self-addressed, 
stamped postcard on which the following statement is made: ``Comments 
to Docket No. 92-CE-25-AD.'' The postcard will be date stamped and 
returned to the commenter.

Availability of NPRMs

    Any person may obtain a copy of this NPRM by submitting a request 
to the FAA, Central Region, Office of the Assistant Chief Counsel, 
Attention: Rules Docket No. 92-CE-25-AD, Room 1558, 601 E. 12th Street, 
Kansas City, Missouri 64106.

Discussion

    The Direction Generale de L'Aviation Civile (DGAC), which is the 
airworthiness authority for France, recently notified the FAA that an 
unsafe condition may exist on Avions Pierre Robin Model R2160 
airplanes. The DGAC reports that cracks in the weld securing the nose 
wheel steering bottom bracket to the nose landing gear leg have been 
found on several of the affected airplanes. This condition, if not 
detected and corrected, could lead to nose landing gear failure, which 
could result in loss of control of the airplane during landing 
operations.

[[Page 58146]]

Applicable Service Information

    Avions Pierre Robin Service Bulletin (SB) No. 101, Revision 3, 
dated March 5, 1992, specifies a dye penetrant inspection of the 
welding area between the strut and lower plate of the bottom bracket of 
the nose landing gear leg. This SB also includes a figure that depicts 
the inspection area, and includes crack limitations for when the strut 
needs repairs.
    The DGAC classified this service bulletin as mandatory and issued 
DGAC AD 83-206(A)R3, dated March 18, 1992, in order to assure the 
continued airworthiness of these airplanes in France.

The FAA's Determination

    This airplane model is manufactured in France and is type 
certificated for operation in the United States under the provisions of 
section 21.29 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR 21.29) and 
the applicable bilateral airworthiness agreement. Pursuant to this 
bilateral airworthiness agreement, the DGAC has kept the FAA informed 
of the situation described above. The FAA has examined the findings of 
the DGAC; reviewed all available information, including the service 
information referenced above; and determined that AD action is 
necessary for products of this type design that are certificated for 
operation in the United States.

Explanation of the Provisions of the Proposed AD

    Since an unsafe condition has been identified that is likely to 
exist or develop on other Avions Pierre Robin Model R2160 airplanes of 
the same type design registered in the United States, the proposed AD 
would require repetitively inspecting the weld area between the strut 
and the lower plate of the nose landing gear leg for cracks, and 
replacing the strut when cracks are found.

Differences Between the Proposed AD, Service Bulletin, and DGAC AD

    Both Avions Pierre Robin SB No. 101, Revision 3, dated March 5, 
1992, and DGAC AD 83-206(A)R3, dated March 18, 1992, specify repetitive 
inspection intervals of 25 hours time-in-service if a crack in the weld 
area is found that is within a certain limit. The limit is ``if the 
crack runs along the circumference and is less than 15 mm long max. or/
and radial crack is less than 8 mm max.'' The proposed AD, if adopted, 
would not allow continued flight if any crack is found. FAA policy is 
to disallow airplane operation when known cracks exist in primary 
structure (the nose landing gear leg is considered primary structure).

Cost Impact

    The FAA estimates that 10 airplanes in the U.S. registry would be 
affected by the proposed AD, that it would take approximately 1 
workhour per airplane to accomplish the proposed initial inspection, 
and that the average labor rate is approximately $60 an hour. Based on 
these figures, the total cost impact of the proposed AD on U.S. 
operators is estimated to be $600. This figure does not take into 
account the number of repetitive inspections each airplane owner/
operator would incur over the life of the airplane, or the number of 
airplanes that would have cracked weld areas and would need the strut 
replaced. The FAA has no way of determining the number of repetitive 
inspections each owner/operator would incur over the life of the 
airplane or the number of nose landing gear leg struts that would need 
to be replaced because of cracks in the weld area.

Regulatory Impact

    The regulations proposed herein would not have substantial direct 
effects 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. Therefore, in 
accordance with Executive Order 12612, it is determined that this 
proposal would not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant 
the preparation of a Federalism Assessment.
    For the reasons discussed above, I certify that this action (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); and (3) if promulgated, 
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. A copy of the draft regulatory evaluation 
prepared for this action has been placed in the Rules Docket. A copy of 
it may be obtained by contacting the Rules Docket at the location 
provided under the caption ADDRESSES.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

    Air transportation, Aircraft, Aviation safety, Safety.

The Proposed Amendment

    Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the 
Administrator, the Federal Aviation Administration proposes to amend 
part 39 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR part 39) as 
follows:

PART 39--AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES

    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]

    2. Section 39.13 is amended by adding a new airworthiness directive 
(AD) to read as follows:

Avions Pierre Robin: Docket No. 92-CE-25-AD.

    Applicability: Model R2160 airplanes (all serial numbers), 
certificated in any category.

    Note 1: This AD applies to each airplane identified in the 
preceding applicability provision, regardless of whether it has been 
modified, altered, or repaired in the area subject to the 
requirements of this AD. For airplanes that have been modified, 
altered, or repaired so that the performance of the requirements of 
this AD is affected, the owner/operator must request approval for an 
alternative method of compliance in accordance with paragraph (d) of 
this AD. The request should include an assessment of the effect of 
the modification, alteration, or repair on the unsafe condition 
addressed by this AD; and, if the unsafe condition has not been 
eliminated, the request should include specific proposed actions to 
address it.
    Compliance: Required initially within the next 100 hours time-
in-service (TIS) after the effective date of this AD, unless already 
accomplished, and thereafter as follows, as applicable:
    1. If the width of the lower plate of the bottom bracket of the 
nose landing gear leg is 84 millimeters: at intervals not to exceed 
500 hours TIS; or
    2. If the width of the lower plate of the bottom bracket of the 
nose landing gear leg is less than 84 millimeters: at intervals not 
to exceed 100 hours TIS.
    To prevent nose landing gear failure caused by cracks in the 
weld area between the strut and the lower plate of the nose landing 
gear leg, which could result in loss of control of the airplane 
during landing operations, accomplish the following:
    (a) Inspect, using dye penetrant methods, the weld area between 
the strut and the lower plate of the nose landing gear leg for 
cracks. Use the figure in Avions Pierre Robin Service Bulletin (SB) 
No. 101, Revision 3, dated March 5, 1992, as a guide in 
accomplishing this inspection.
    (b) If any crack is found during any inspection required by this 
AD, prior to further flight, replace the strut with a new or 
serviceable strut.
    (1) If the replacement strut is not new, prior to further flight 
after installing it, accomplish the inspection specified in 
paragraph (a) of this AD.
    (2) Replacing the strut with a new or serviceable strut does not 
eliminate the repetitive inspection requirement of this AD.
    (c) Special flight permits may be issued in accordance with 
sections 21.197 and 21.199

[[Page 58147]]

of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR 21.197 and 21.199) to 
operate the airplane to a location where the requirements of this AD 
can be accomplished.
    (d) An alternative method of compliance or adjustment of the 
compliance time that provides an equivalent level of safety may be 
approved by the Manager, Brussels Aircraft Certification Division, 
FAA, Europe, Africa, and Middle East Office, c/o American Embassy, 
B-1000 Brussels, Belgium. The request shall be forwarded through an 
appropriate FAA Maintenance Inspector, who may add comments and then 
send it to the Manager, Brussels Aircraft Certification Division.

    Note 2: Information concerning the existence of approved 
alternative methods of compliance with this AD, if any, may be 
obtained from the Brussels Aircraft Certification Division.

    (e) All persons affected by this directive may obtain copies of 
the document referred to herein upon request to Avions Pierre Robin, 
1, Route de Troyes, 21121 Darois France; or may examine this 
document at the FAA, Central Region, Office of the Assistant Chief 
Counsel, Room 1558, 601 E. 12th Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64106.

    Issued in Kansas City, Missouri, on November 5, 1996.
Michael Gallagher,
Manager, Small Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 96-28945 Filed 11-12-96; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-U