[Federal Register Volume 63, Number 231 (Wednesday, December 2, 1998)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 66418-66420]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 98-31858]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 39

[Docket No. 98-SW-41-AD; Amendment 39-10921; AD 98-24-35]
RIN 2120-AA64


Airworthiness Directives; Eurocopter France Model AS-350B, B1, 
B2, BA, C, D, D1, and AS 355E, F, F1, F2, and N Helicopters

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration, DOT.


[[Page 66419]]


ACTION: Final rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This amendment adopts a new airworthiness directive (AD) that 
is applicable to Eurocopter France Model AS-350B, B1, B2, BA, C, D, D1, 
and AS 355E, F, F1, F2, and N helicopters. This action requires 
measuring the tail rotor pitch change control rod (control rod) 
outboard spherical bearing for radial and axial play. If the play 
exceeds 0.008-inch, replacing the control rod with an airworthy control 
rod is required. This amendment is prompted by one accident and one 
incident. Investigations revealed a broken control rod on the 
helicopter involved in the accident and a severely worn control rod on 
the helicopter involved in the incident. This condition, if not 
corrected, could result in separation of the outboard spherical bearing 
ball from its outer race, rubbing of the body of the control rod 
against the tail rotor blade pitch horn clevis, failure of the control 
rod, and loss of control of the helicopter.

DATES: Effective December 17, 1998.
    Comments for inclusion in the Rules Docket must be received on or 
before February 1, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments in triplicate to the Federal Aviation 
Administration (FAA), Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 
Attention: Rules Docket No. 98-SW-41-AD, 2601 Meacham Blvd., Room 663, 
Fort Worth, Texas 76137.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Shep Blackman, Aerospace Engineer, 
FAA, Rotorcraft Directorate, Rotorcraft Standards Staff, 2601 Meacham 
Blvd., Fort Worth, Texas 76137, telephone (817) 222-5296, fax (817) 
222-5961.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This amendment was prompted by an accident, 
which occurred in November 1996, and an incident, which occurred in 
August 1997, involving Model AS-350B2 helicopters offshore over the 
Gulf of Mexico. The DGAC, although notified by the FAA of both the 
accident and incident, has not issued an AD on this subject. There were 
two other unconfirmed incidents cited by the National Transportation 
Safety Board (based on manufacturer's reports) involving the same 
control rod, part number (P/N) 350A33-2145-01.
    These helicopter models are manufactured in France and are 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. The FAA has 
determined that AD action is necessary for products of this type design 
certified for operation in the United States.
    Since an unsafe condition has been identified that is likely to 
exist or develop on other Eurocopter France Model AS-350B, B1, B2, BA, 
C, D, D1, and AS 355E, F, F1, F2, and N helicopters of the same type 
design registered in the United States, this AD is being issued to 
prevent separation of the outboard spherical bearing ball from its 
outer race, rubbing of the body of the control rod against the tail 
rotor blade pitch horn clevis, failure of the control rod, and loss of 
control of the helicopter. The short compliance time involved is 
required because the previously described critical unsafe condition can 
adversely affect the controllability of the helicopter. Therefore, 
measuring the control rod outboard spherical bearing radial and axial 
play is required within 50 hours time-in-service, and this AD must be 
issued immediately.
    Since a situation exists that requires the immediate adoption of 
this regulation, it is found that notice and opportunity for prior 
public comment hereon are impracticable, and that good cause exists for 
making this amendment effective in less than 30 days.

Cost Impact

    The FAA estimates that 507 helicopters will be affected by this AD, 
that it will take approximately 1 work hour, and that the average labor 
rate is $60 per work hour. Required parts will cost approximately 
$2,376 per helicopter. Based on these figures, the total cost impact of 
this AD on U.S. operators is estimated to be $1,235,052 to perform the 
measurement and to replace both control rods on each helicopter in the 
fleet.

Comments Invited

    Although this action is in the form of a final rule that involves 
requirements affecting flight safety and, thus, was not preceded by 
notice and an opportunity for public comment, comments are invited on 
this rule. Interested persons are invited to comment on this 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 under the caption ADDRESSES. All 
communications received on or before the closing date for comments will 
be considered, and this rule may be amended in light of the comments 
received. Factual information that supports the commenter's ideas and 
suggestions is extremely helpful in evaluating the effectiveness of the 
AD action and determining whether additional rulemaking action would be 
needed.
    Comments are specifically invited on the overall regulatory, 
economic, environmental, and energy aspects of the rule that might 
suggest a need to modify the 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 
AD will be filed in the Rules Docket.
    Commenters wishing the FAA to acknowledge receipt of their comments 
submitted in response to this rule must submit a self-addressed, 
stamped postcard on which the following statement is made: ``Comments 
to Docket No. 98-SW-41-AD.'' The postcard will be date stamped and 
returned to the commenter.

Regulatory Impact

    The regulations adopted herein will 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 final 
rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the 
preparation of a Federalism Assessment.
    The FAA has determined that this regulation is an emergency 
regulation that must be issued immediately to correct an unsafe 
condition in aircraft, and that it is not a ``significant regulatory 
action'' under Executive Order 12866. It has been determined further 
that this action involves an emergency regulation under DOT Regulatory 
Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979). If it is 
determined that this emergency regulation otherwise would be 
significant under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures, a final 
regulatory evaluation will be prepared and placed in the Rules Docket. 
A copy of it, if filed, may be obtained from 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.

Adoption of the Amendment

    Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the 
Administrator, the Federal Aviation Administration amends part 39 of 
the

[[Page 66420]]

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 
to read as follows:

AD 98-24-35  Eurocopter France: Amendment 39-10921. Docket No. 98-
SW-41-AD.

    Applicability: Eurocopter France Model AS-350B, B1, B2, BA, C, 
D, D1, and AS 355E, F, F1, F2, and N helicopters, with tail rotor 
pitch change control rod (control rod), part number (P/N) 350A33-
2145-01, installed, certificated in any category.

    Note 1: This AD applies to each helicopter 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 helicopters that have been modified, 
altered, or repaired so that the performance of the requirements of 
this AD is affected, the owner/operator must use the authority 
provided in paragraph (b) to request approval from the FAA. This 
approval may address either no action, if the current configuration 
eliminates the unsafe condition, or different actions necessary to 
address the unsafe condition described in this AD. Such a request 
should include an assessment of the effect of the changed 
configuration on the unsafe condition addressed by this AD. In no 
case does the presence of any modification, alteration, or repair 
remove any helicopter from the applicability of this AD.

    Compliance: Required within 50 hours time-in-service (TIS) after 
the effective date of this AD, unless accomplished previously, and 
thereafter at intervals not to exceed 50 hours TIS.
    To prevent separation of the outboard spherical bearing ball 
from its outer race, rubbing of the body of the control rod against 
the tail rotor blade pitch horn clevis, failure of the control rod, 
and loss of control of the helicopter, accomplish the following:
    (a) Using a dial indicator, measure the axial and radial play of 
the outboard spherical bearing on the control rod. If the play 
exceeds 0.008-inch, replace the control rod with an airworthy 
control rod.
    (b) An alternative method of compliance or adjustment of the 
compliance time that provides an acceptable level of safety may be 
used when approved by the Manager, Rotorcraft Standards Staff, 
Rotorcraft Directorate, FAA. Operators shall submit their requests 
through an FAA Principal Maintenance Inspector, who may concur or 
comment and then send it to the Manager, Rotorcraft Standards Staff.

    Note 2: Information concerning the existence of approved 
alternative methods of compliance with this AD, if any, may be 
obtained from the Rotorcraft Standards Staff.

    (c) Special flight permits may be issued in accordance with 
sections 21.197 and 21.199 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 
CFR 21.197 and 21.199) to operate the helicopter to a location where 
the requirements of this AD can be accomplished.
    (d) This amendment becomes effective on December 17, 1998.

    Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on November 19, 1998.
Eric Bries,
Acting Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 98-31858 Filed 12-1-98; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-U