DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Aviation Administration
14 CFR Part 39
[Docket No. FAA-2020-0572; Product Identifier 2017-SW-056-AD; Amendment
39-21358; AD 2020-26-03]
Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH
AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: The FAA is superseding Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2007-26-51
which applied to certain Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH Model
EC135 helicopters. AD 2007-26-51 required inspecting the tail rotor
control rod (control rod) and ball pivot and, depending on findings,
replacing those parts. This new AD requires inspecting certain ball
pivots, applying corrosion preventative compound on the ball pivot, and
corrective action, as applicable. This AD also requires replacing the
control rod with a newly developed control rod. This AD was prompted by
the manufacturer's development of a new control rod, which the FAA has
determined must be installed in order to address the identified unsafe
condition. The actions of this AD are intended to address an unsafe
condition on these products.
DATES: This AD is effective January 22, 2021.
The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by
reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of January 22,
ADDRESSES: 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
may view this 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 https://www.
regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2020-0572.
Examining the AD Docket
You may examine the AD docket on the internet at https://www.regulations.
gov in Docket No. FAA-2020-0572; 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 AD, the European Aviation
Safety Agency (now European Union Aviation Safety Agency) (EASA) AD,
any service information that is incorporated by reference, any comments
received, and other information. The street 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, Aircraft Systems Section, Technical Innovation Policy Branch,
FAA, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Fort Worth, TX 76177; telephone 817-222-
5116; email David.Hatfield@faa.gov.
The FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14
CFR part 39 to remove AD 2007-26-51, Amendment 39-15357 (73 FR 6008,
February 1, 2008) (AD 2007-26-51), and add a new AD. AD 2007-26-51
applied to certain Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH (type
certificate previously held by Eurocopter Deutschland GmbH) Model EC135
helicopters, serial number (S/N) 0005 up to and including S/N 0444,
except S/N 0028, and with control rod part number (P/N) L672M2005207,
installed. The NPRM was published in the Federal Register on June 18,
2020 (85 FR 36816). The NPRM proposed to require inspecting certain
ball pivots for damage and freedom of movement, applying corrosion
preventative compound on the ball pivot, and corrective action, as
applicable. The NPRM also proposed to require replacing the control rod
with the newly developed control rod that the FAA determined was
necessary to address the unsafe condition.
The NPRM was prompted by EASA AD No. 2010-0227R1, dated April 7,
2017 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness
Information, or ``the MCAI''), issued by EASA, which is the Technical
Agent for the Member States of the European Union, to correct an unsafe
condition for all Model EC135 P1, EC135 P2, EC135 P2+, EC135 T1, EC 135
T2, and EC135 T2+ helicopters; and Model EC635 T1, EC635 P2+, and EC635
T2+ helicopters. EASA advises that in 2007 an accident occurred on an
EC135 helicopter in Japan. Preliminary investigation results indicated
that loss of control was due to failure of the control rod. EASA issued
EASA Emergency AD 2007-0301-E, dated December 13, 2007 (EASA AD 2007-
0301-E) to inspect the affected control rod P/N L672M2005207 and the
ball pivot (which correspond to the actions required by AD 2007-26-51).
EASA AD 2007-0301-E was subsequently superseded by EASA AD 2007-0313,
dated December 21, 2007, to require repetitive inspections and,
depending on findings, the replacement of the control rod and ball
pivot, only for helicopters not equipped with an automatic flight
control system (AFCS). After review of the inspection results, EASA
issued EASA AD 2008-0064, dated April 4, 2008, and later revised to
EASA AD 2008-0064 R1, dated April 15, 2008 (EASA AD 2008-0064 R1), to
apply the requirements to helicopters equipped with an AFCS.
EASA also advises that after EASA AD 2008-0064R1 was issued,
Eurocopter Deutschland GmbH developed a new control rod P/N
L672M2006101, installation of which constituted terminating action for
the repetitive inspections. Consequently, EASA issued EASA AD 2010-
0227, dated November 3, 2010, and corrected November 8, 2010, retaining
the requirements of EASA AD 2008-0064R1, and requiring the replacement
of control rod P/N L672M2005207 with the new control rod P/N
L672M2006101. The FAA has determined that this new control rod must be
installed in order to address the unsafe condition.
In addition, EASA advises that following a review of data and
feedback received from in-service helicopters, it
has been determined that the repetitive inspections of the ball pivot
are no longer required to address the unsafe condition. The repetitive
inspections of the ball pivot are now included in Chapter 05 of the
aircraft maintenance manual. Therefore, EASA issued EASA AD 2010-0227R1
to remove the requirement for repetitive inspections of the control rod
and of the ball pivot.
You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the internet at
https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No.
The FAA gave the public the opportunity to participate in
developing this final rule, but the FAA did not receive any comments on
the NPRM or on the determination of the cost to the public.
These helicopters have been approved by EASA and are approved for
operation in the United States. Pursuant to the FAA's bilateral
agreement with the European Union, EASA has notified the FAA of the
unsafe condition described in its AD. The FAA is issuing this AD after
evaluating all of the information provided by EASA and determining the
unsafe condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other
helicopters of the same type designs and that air safety and the public
interest require adopting the AD requirements as proposed.
Differences Between This AD and the MCAI or Service Information
The MCAI includes a compliance time of 50 flight hours for the
inspection of a certain ball pivot; 100 flight hours or 43 days for the
inspection of a certain other ball pivot; and 400 flight hours or 12
months for the replacement of the control rod. This AD requires all
actions be accomplished within 50 hours time-in-service.
The MCAI applies to Airbus Helicopters Deutschland GmbH Model EC635
T1, EC635 P2+, and EC635 T2+ helicopters. Model EC635 T1, EC635 P2+,
and EC635 T2+ helicopters are not certified by the FAA and are not
included on the U.S. type certificate data sheet except where the U.S.
type certificate data sheet explains that the Model EC635T2+ helicopter
having serial number 0858 was converted from Model EC635T2+ to Model
EC135T2+; this AD therefore does not include those Model EC 635
helicopters in the applicability.
Additionally, although the MCAI and service information specify to
contact the manufacturer, this AD does not include that requirement.
Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51
Airbus Helicopters has issued Alert Service Bulletin ASB EC135-67A-
017, Revision 4, dated April 3, 2017, including the Appendix
(watermarked as Appendix to SB EC135-67A-017 Revision 4). This service
information describes procedures for, among other actions, an
inspection of ball pivots, P/Ns 92-201-00 and 92-207-00, for freedom of
movement, and for damage (e.g., cracks, missing hardware, loose
bearing, or play), application of corrosion preventative compound, and
corrective actions. Corrective actions include replacing the ball pivot
and the control rod with serviceable parts, and applying corrosion
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.
Other Related Service Information
Eurocopter has issued Service Bulletin EC135-67-018, Revision 01,
dated May 15, 2008, which describes procedures for replacing the
control rod having P/N L672M2005207 with a control rod having P/N
Eurocopter has also issued Alert Service Bulletin EC135-67A-017,
Revision 03, dated July 26, 2010, which describes procedures for ball
pivot inspections and replacements.
Costs of Compliance
The FAA estimates that this AD affects 311 helicopters of U.S.
Registry. The FAA estimates that operators may incur the following
costs in order to comply with this AD. Labor costs are estimated at $85
Inspecting the ball pivot takes about 1 work-hour, for an estimated
cost of $85 per helicopter and $26,435 for the U.S. fleet. If
applicable, applying corrosion preventative compound takes a minimal
amount of additional time for a nominal cost.
Replacing the control rod takes about 3 work-hours, and parts cost
about $800 for an estimated cost of $1,055 per helicopter and $328,105
for the U.S. fleet.
Replacing the control rod and ball pivot takes up to about 6 work-
hours, and parts cost up to about $2,150 for an estimated cost of up to
$2,660 per helicopter.
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.
The FAA is 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 action.
The FAA has 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
(2) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska, and
(3) 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:
a. Removing Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2007-26-51, Amendment 39-
15357 (73 FR 6008, February 1, 2008), and
b. Adding the following new AD: