AVIATION / FAA “Airworthiness Directives” to correct “unsafe conditions” in aircraft and engines – Agusta S.p.A. helicopters, Agusta S.p.A. and Bell Helicopter Textron helicopters, The Boeing Company airplanes, Embraer S.A. airplanes, Reims Aviation S.A. airplanes, Robinson Helicopter Company helicopters, Rolls-Royce plc Turbofan engines, and Rolls-Royce (1971) Limited, Bristol Engine Division Turbojet engines.

The FAA has issued various final or proposed “airworthiness directives” (“AD’s”) for specified models of aircraft and engines. 

Who is affected? Any party who operates or holds a property interest (owner, lessee, or security party) in the specified aircraft or engines.

What is an AD? Per 14 CFR § 39.1 the FAA issues an AD where: (a) “An unsafe condition exists in a product [aircraft, engine, propeller, or appliance]; and (b) “that condition is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design”. “No person may operate a product to which an [AD] applies except in accordance with the requirements of that [AD].” 14 CFR § 39.3. 

Agusta S.p.A. (Agusta) Model AB412 and AB412 EP, and Bell Helicopter Textron (Bell) Model 412, 412CF, and 412EP helicopters with certain DART Aerospace Ltd. (Dart) high gear aft crosstubes (crosstube) installed. 

February 25, 2013, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

The FAA proposes to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for Agusta S.p.A. (Agusta) Model AB412 and AB412 EP, and Bell Helicopter Textron (Bell) Model 412, 412CF, and 412EP helicopters with certain DART Aerospace Ltd. (Dart) high gear aft crosstubes (crosstube) installed. This proposed AD would require adding a life limit of 10,000 landings to the crosstube and removing from service any crosstubes with more than 10,000 accumulated landings. This proposed AD is prompted by five separate reports of crosstube failures. The actions in this proposed AD are intended to prevent failure of the crosstube and subsequent collapse of the landing gear. 

Agusta S.p.A. (Agusta) Model A109E helicopters. 

February 25, 2013, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

The FAA proposes to supersede an existing airworthiness directive (AD) for Agusta S.p.A. (Agusta) Model A109E helicopters that requires reducing the tail rotor (T/R) blade life limit, modifying a T/R hub and grip assembly, re-identifying two T/R assemblies, clarifying the never-exceed speed (Vne) limitation and reducing the inspection interval. Since we issued that AD, the manufacturer has redesigned a T/R grip bushing (bushing) that reduces the loads, which caused the T/R cracking, on the T/R blades. This action would require installing the new bushing and re-identifying the T/R hub-and-grip and hub-and-blade assemblies and require a recurring inspection of each bushing. The proposed actions are intended to prevent fatigue failure of a T/R blade and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter. 

The Boeing Company Model 787-8 airplanes. 

February 22, 2013, Final Rule; Request for Comments. 

The FAA is adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all The Boeing Company Model 787-8 airplanes. This emergency AD was sent previously to all known U.S. owners and operators of these airplanes. This AD requires modification of the battery system, or other actions. This AD was prompted by recent incidents involving lithium ion battery failures that resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke. The FAA is issuing this AD to correct damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment. 

“On January 16, 2013, we issued Emergency AD 2013-02-51, which requires modification of the battery system, or other actions. This emergency AD was sent previously to all known U.S. owners and operators of these airplanes. This action was prompted by recent incidents involving lithium ion battery failures that resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke on two Model 787-8 airplanes. The cause of these failures is currently under investigation. These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment.

“We are issuing this AD because we evaluated all the relevant information and determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design.

“This AD requires modification of the battery system, or other actions, in accordance with a method approved by the Manager, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), FAA. 

We consider this AD interim action. As the investigation progresses, we might determine that additional action is necessary.” 

The Boeing Company Model 737-200, -200C, -300, -400, and -500 series airplanes. 

February 21, 2013, Final Rule.

The FAA is adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain The Boeing Company Model 737-200, -200C, -300, -400, and -500 series airplanes. This AD was prompted by reports of cracks in the skin and surrounding structure under the number 3 very high frequency (VHF) antenna on the lower external surface of the airplane at buttock line 0.0, aft of the main landing gear wheel well. This AD requires inspecting for cracking and corrosion under the number 3 VHF antenna, and corrective actions if necessary; and, for certain airplanes, replacing bonded skin panels with solid skin panels if not previously accomplished. This AD also provides an optional preventive modification (which would terminate the inspection requirements for certain airplanes). The FAA is issuing this AD to detect and correct cracks and corrosion of the skin and surrounding structure under the number 3 VHF antenna, which could result in separation of the antenna from the airplane, and rapid depressurization of the airplane. 

Certain Embraer S.A. Model ERJ 170 and ERJ 190 airplanes. 

February 22, 2013, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. 

The FAA proposes to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Embraer S.A. Model ERJ 170 and ERJ 190 airplanes. This proposed AD was prompted by reports of chafing between the auxiliary power unit (APU) electronic starter controller (ESC) power cables and the airplane tail cone firewall. This proposed AD would require a detailed inspection for damage to the insulation and inner conductors of the APU ESC power cables, installing new grommet support in the tail cone firewall, and corrective actions if necessary. The FAA is proposing this AD to detect and correct damage to the APU ESC power cable harness, which if not corrected, could result in reduced structural integrity of the fuselage and empennage in the event of fire penetration through the firewall.” 

Reims Aviation S.A. Model F406 airplanes. 

February 21, 2013, Final rule.

The FAA is adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for Reims Aviation S.A. Model F406 airplanes. This AD results from mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI) issued by an aviation authority of another country to identify and correct an unsafe condition on an aviation product. The MCAI describes the unsafe condition as improper material used in nose landing gear (NLG) attachment brackets could lead to failure of the NLG bracket with consequent damage to the airplane while landing. The FAA is issuing this AD to require actions to address the unsafe condition on these products.

Robinson Helicopter Company (Robinson) Model R22, R22 Alpha, R22 Beta, R22 Mariner, R44, and R44 II helicopters with certain main rotor blades (blade) installed.

February 25, 2013, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

The FAA proposes to supersede an existing airworthiness directive (AD) for Robinson Helicopter Company (Robinson) Model R22, R22 Alpha, R22 Beta, R22 Mariner, R44, and R44 II helicopters with certain main rotor blades (blade) installed. The existing AD currently requires inspecting each blade at the skin-to-spar line for debonding, corrosion, a separation, a gap, or a dent and replacing any damaged blade with an airworthy blade. Since we issued that AD, a terminating action for the inspection requirements of that AD has been developed. The proposed actions are intended to detect debonding of the blade skin, which could result in blade failure and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter, and to correct the unsafe condition by replacing the main rotor blades with new blades that do not require the AD inspection.

Rolls-Royce (1971) Limited, Bristol Engine Division (RR) Viper Mk. 601-22 turbojet engines.

February 22, 2013, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

The FAA proposes to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all Rolls-Royce (1971) Limited, Bristol Engine Division (RR) Viper Mk. 601-22 turbojet engines. This proposed AD was prompted by a review carried out by RR of the lives of certain critical parts. This proposed AD would require reducing the life of these parts. The FAA is proposing this AD to prevent life-limited part failure, damage to the engine, and damage to the airplane.

Rolls-Royce plc (RR) RB211-524 series turbofan engines.

February 21, 2013, Final Rule, Request for Comments.

The FAA is superseding an existing airworthiness directive (AD) for all Rolls-Royce plc (RR) RB211-524 series turbofan engines. That AD currently requires removal and repair of certain thrust reverser units (TRUs) prior to reinstallation. This AD requires the same actions for an expanded population of TRUs and extends the compliance time for repairing certain TRUs. This AD was prompted by additional engineering evaluation of TRUs, as a result of a translating cowl gearbox stubshaft failure and subsequent repair. The FAA is issuing this AD to prevent failure of the attachment rivets, which may result in release of the TRU from the engine.