DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Aviation Administration
14 CFR Part 39
[Docket No. FAA-2018-0722; Product Identifier 2017-SW-104-AD; Amendment
39-19651; AD 2019-11-05]
Airworthiness Directives; Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Limited
AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: We are superseding Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2015-22-02
certain Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Limited (Bell) Model 429
helicopters. AD 2015-22-02 required inspecting the tail rotor (TR)
pitch link assemblies. This AD retains the inspections of AD 2015-22-02
and requires replacing certain pitch link bearings. This AD was
prompted by a new design bearing introduced by Bell. We are issuing
this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.
DATES: This AD is effective July 12, 2019.
ADDRESSES: For service information identified in this final rule,
contact Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Limited, 12,800 Rue de l'Avenir,
Mirabel, Quebec J7J1R4; telephone (450) 437-2862 or (800) 363-8023; fax
(450) 433-0272; or at http://www.bellcustomer.com/files/. 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.
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-2018-
0722; or in person at Docket Operations between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.,
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains
this final rule, the Transport Canada AD, the regulatory evaluation,
any comments received, and other information. The address for Docket
Operations is U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-
30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue
SE, Washington, DC 20590.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Hatfield, Aviation Safety
Engineer, Safety Management Section, Rotorcraft Standards Branch, FAA,
10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Fort Worth, TX 76177; telephone (817) 222-5110;
We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR
part 39 to remove AD 2015-22-02, Amendment 39-18306 (80 FR 65618,
October 27, 2015) (``AD 2015-22-02'') and add a new AD. AD 2015-22-02
applied to Bell Model 429 helicopters with a TR pitch link assembly
part number (P/N) 429-112-101 or 429-112-103 installed.
The NPRM published in the Federal Register on August 8, 2018 (83 FR
39004). The NPRM was prompted by a new design bearing introduced by
Bell. The NPRM proposed to continue to require the inspections of AD
2015-22-02. The NPRM also proposed to require replacing certain pitch
link bearings. We are issuing this AD to address a worn pitch link.
This condition, if not corrected, could result in pitch link failure
and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.
Transport Canada, which is the aviation authority for Canada,
issued Canadian AD No. CF-2015-16R2, dated April 3, 2017 (Transport
Canada AD No. CF-2015-16R2), to correct an unsafe condition for certain
Bell Model 429 helicopters. Transport Canada advises that Bell has
reported that the TR pitch link assembly can be rotated during the 50-
hour inspections to extend the serviceability life of the bearings.
Transport Canada AD No. CF-2015-16R2 requires modified inspection
procedures for the spherical bearings and requires replacing the TR
pitch link bearings (or the TR pitch link assembly) with spherical
bearings manufactured after January 12, 2015. Transport Canada AD No.
CF-2015-16R2 also requires re-identifying TR pitch link assemblies with
a different part number after installing the new bearings.
We gave the public the opportunity to participate in developing
this final rule, but we did not receive any comments on the NPRM.
These helicopters have been approved by the aviation authority of
Canada and are approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to
bilateral agreement with Canada, Transport Canada, its technical
representative, has notified us of the unsafe condition described in
the Transport Canada AD. We are proposing this AD because we evaluated
all information provided by Transport Canada and determined the unsafe
condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other helicopters
of the same type design and that air safety and the public interest
require adopting the AD requirements as proposed except for a minor
editorial change. We have updated the estimated costs to reflect that
this AD affects 90 helicopters of U.S. Registry rather than 85
helicopters. This change is consistent with the intent of the proposals
in the NPRM and will not increase the economic burden on any operator
nor increase the scope of this AD.
Related Service Information
We reviewed Bell Alert Service Bulletin No. 429-15-16, Revision B,
dated June 15, 2016. This service information contains procedures for
repetitively inspecting the TR pitch link assembly until it is upgraded
by replacing the TR pitch link bearings.
Differences Between This AD and the Transport Canada AD
The Transport Canada AD requires the bearing inspection within 10
hours time-in-service (TIS) or before exceeding 60 hours TIS since new,
whichever occurs later. This AD requires the bearing inspection within
50 hours TIS. The Transport Canada AD also requires replacing certain
bearings within 200 hours TIS after the initial bearing inspection or
within 250 hours TIS since new, whichever occurs first. This AD
requires replacing the bearing within 200 hours of the initial
inspection or at the next 50 hours TIS inspection if the hours TIS of
pitch link assembly exceed 250 hours TIS or are unknown.
We consider this AD to be an interim action. If final action is
later identified, we might consider further rulemaking then.
Costs of Compliance
We estimate that this AD affects 90 helicopters of U.S. Registry.
We estimate that operators may incur the following costs in order to
comply with this AD.
At an average labor rate of $85 per hour, inspecting the TR pitch
link assemblies requires 2 work-hours for a cost of $170 per helicopter
and $15,300 for the U.S. fleet per inspection cycle. Replacing both
spherical bearings in each TR pitch link assembly requires 3 work-
hours, and required parts cost $3,088, for a cost of $3,343 per
helicopter and $300,870 for the U.S. fleet.
According to Bell's service information some of the costs of this
AD may be covered under warranty, thereby reducing the cost impact on
affected individuals. We do not control warranty coverage by Bell.
Accordingly, we have included all costs in our cost estimate.
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 products identified in this
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 above, I certify that this AD:
1. Is not a ``significant regulatory action'' under Executive Order
2. Is not a ``significant rule'' under the DOT Regulatory Policies
and Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979);
3. Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska; 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.
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 removing Airworthiness Directive (AD)
2015-22-02, Amendment 39-18306 (80 FR 65618, October 27, 2015), and
adding the following new AD: