DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Aviation Administration
14 CFR Part 39
[Docket No. FAA-2017-0933; Product Identifier 2017-SW-051-AD; Amendment
39-19106; AD 2017-24-02]
Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH
AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of
ACTION: Final rule; request for comments.
SUMMARY: We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for
Helicopters Deutschland GmbH (Airbus Helicopters) Model MBB-BK 117 D-2
helicopters. This AD requires amending the rotorcraft flight manual to
establish a minimum airspeed limitation for the autopilot cruise height
mode. This AD is prompted by two reports of uncommanded helicopter
climbs and descents. The actions of this AD are intended to address an
unsafe condition on these products.
DATES: This AD becomes effective December 13, 2017.
The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by
reference of certain documents listed in this AD as of December 13, 2017.
We must receive comments on this AD by January 29, 2018.
ADDRESSES: You may send comments by any of the following methods:
Federal eRulemaking Docket: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the
online instructions for sending your comments electronically.
Mail: Send comments to the U.S. Department of
Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor,
Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
Hand Delivery: Deliver to the ``Mail'' address between 9
a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
Examining the AD Docket
You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations
.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-0933;
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, the European Aviation Safety Agency AD, any
incorporated by reference service information, the economic evaluation,
any comments received, and other information. The street address for
the Docket Operations Office (telephone 800-647-5527) is in the
ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly
For service information identified in this final rule, contact
Airbus Helicopters, 2701 N. Forum Drive, Grand Prairie, TX 75052;
telephone (972) 641-0000 or (800) 232-0323; fax (972) 641-3775; or at
Support_73.html. You may review the referenced service information at
the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 10101
Hillwood Pkwy., Room 6N-321, Fort Worth, TX 76177. It is also available
on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and
locating Docket No. FAA-2017-0933.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: George Schwab, Aviation Safety
Engineer, Safety Management Section, Rotorcraft Standards Branch, FAA,
10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Fort Worth, TX 76177; telephone (817) 222-5110;
This AD is a final rule that involves requirements affecting flight
safety, and we did not provide you with notice and an opportunity to
provide your comments prior to it becoming effective. However, we
invite you to participate in this rulemaking by submitting written
comments, data, or views. We also invite comments relating to the
economic, environmental, energy, or federalism impacts that resulted
from adopting this AD. The most helpful comments reference a specific
portion of the AD, explain the reason for any recommended change, and
include supporting data. To ensure the docket does not contain
duplicate comments, commenters should send only one copy of written
comments, or if comments are filed electronically, commenters should
submit them only one time. We will file in the docket all comments that
we receive, as well as a report summarizing each substantive public
contact with FAA personnel concerning this rulemaking during the
comment period. We will consider all the comments we receive and may
conduct additional rulemaking based on those comments.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical
Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA AD
No. 2017-0146, dated August 10, 2017, to correct an unsafe condition
for Airbus Helicopters Model MBB-BK 117 D-2 helicopters. EASA advises
that two incidents of uncommanded helicopter climbs and descents have
been reported following activation of the autopilot cruise height
(CRHT) mode concurrently with the ground trajectory command in hover
mode (GTCH). EASA advises this condition, if not detected and
corrected, could lead to temporary loss of control of the helicopter or
injury to the helicopter's occupants. To address this unsafe condition,
EASA requires a minimum airspeed limitation of 40 knots for the
autopilot CRHT mode. Since the rotorcraft cannot enter GTCH mode at
speeds above 40 knots, under this limitation, CRHT mode will not be
engaged concurrently with GTCH mode. EASA considers its AD interim
action, pending an autopilot software upgrade to prevent further
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
Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51
We reviewed Airbus Helicopters BK117 D-2 Flight Manual Temporary
Revision No. 1, dated March 28, 2017, for Model BK117 D-2 helicopters,
and Airbus Helicopters BK117 D-2 (Helionix Step 2) Flight Manual
Temporary Revision No. 1, dated March 28, 2017, for Model BK117 D-2
helicopters with Helionix Step 2. These temporary revisions establish
minimum airspeed limitation of 40 knots for the autopilot CRHT mode.
This service information is reasonably available because the
interested parties have access to it through their normal course of
business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section.
This AD requires, within 10 hours time-in-service, revising the
Operating Limitations section of the rotorcraft flight manual by adding
a minimum airspeed limitation for the autopilot of 40 knots when CRHT
mode is engaged.
We consider this AD to be an interim action. The design approval
holder is currently developing a modification that will address the
unsafe condition identified in this AD. Once this modification is
developed, approved, and available, we might consider additional
Costs of Compliance
We estimate that this AD affects 16 helicopters of U.S. Registry
and that labor costs average $85 per work-hour. Based on these
estimates, we expect that making the required changes to the rotorcraft
flight manual will require 0.5 work-hour and no parts are needed for a
cost of $43 per helicopter and $688 for the U.S. fleet.
FAA's Justification and Determination of the Effective Date
Providing an opportunity for public comments prior to adopting
these AD requirements would delay implementing the safety actions
needed to correct this known unsafe condition. Therefore, we find that
the risk to the flying public justifies waiving notice and comment
prior to the adoption of this rule because the required corrective
actions must be accomplished within 10 hours time-in-service.
Since an unsafe condition exists that requires the immediate
adoption of this AD, we determined that notice and opportunity for
prior public comment before issuing this AD are impracticable and
contrary to the public interest and that good cause exists to make this
AD effective in less than 30 days.
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
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 products identified in this rulemaking
We determined that 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, I certify that this AD:
1. Is not a ``significant regulatory action'' under Executive Order
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
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
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. The FAA amends Sec. 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness