DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Aviation Administration
14 CFR Part 39
[Docket No. FAA-2021-0096; Project Identifier MCAI-2021-00040-R;
Amendment 39-21440; AD 2021-04-18]
Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Helicopters
AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.
ACTION: Final rule; request for comments.
SUMMARY: The FAA is superseding Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2020-23-
02, which applied to all Airbus Helicopters Model EC225LP helicopters.
AD 2020-23-02 required repetitive inspections of the bearing in the
swashplate assembly of the main rotor mast assembly for discrepancies
(ceramic balls that have a hard point or sensitive axial play or both)
and, depending on the findings, replacement of an affected main rotor
mast assembly with a serviceable main rotor mast assembly. Since the
FAA issued AD 2020-23-02, the FAA has determined additional main rotor
mast assemblies are affected by the unsafe condition. This AD continues
to require the actions specified in AD 2020-23-02, and also includes
additional affected main rotor mast assemblies; as specified in a
European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AD, which is incorporated
by reference. The FAA is issuing this AD to address the unsafe
condition on these products.
DATES: This AD becomes effective March 25, 2021.
The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by
reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of March 25,
The FAA must receive comments on this AD by April 26, 2021.
ADDRESSES: You may send comments, using the procedures found in
11.43 and 11.45, by any of the following methods:
Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to https://www.regulations.gov. Follow
instructions for submitting comments.
Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket
Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New
Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590.
Hand Delivery: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket
Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New
Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.,
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
For material incorporated by reference (IBR) in this AD, contact
the EASA, Konrad-Adenauer-Ufer 3, 50668 Cologne, Germany; phone: +49
221 8999 000; email: ADs@easa.europa.eu; internet: www.easa.europa.eu.
You may find this material on the EASA website at https://ad.easa.europa.eu.
You may view this material at the FAA, Office of the
Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Room 6N-321,
Fort Worth, TX 76177. For information on the availability of this
material at the FAA, call 817-222-5110. It is also available in the AD
docket on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for
and locating Docket No. FAA-2021-0096.
Examining the AD Docket
You may examine the AD docket on the internet at https://www.regulations.
gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2021-
0096; 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, any comments received, and other information. The street
address for Docket Operations is listed above. Comments will be
available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kathleen Arrigotti, Aerospace
Engineer, Large Aircraft Section, International Validation Branch, FAA,
2200 South 216th St., Des Moines, WA 98198; phone and fax: 206-231-
3218; email: email@example.com.
The FAA issued AD 2020-23-02, Amendment 39-21318 (85 FR 73607,
November 19, 2020) (AD 2020-23-02), which applied to all Airbus
Helicopters Model EC225LP helicopters. AD 2020-23-02 required
repetitive inspections of the bearing in the swashplate assembly of the
main rotor mast assembly for discrepancies (ceramic balls that have a
hard point or sensitive axial play or both) and, depending on the
findings, replacement of an affected main rotor mast assembly with a
serviceable main rotor mast assembly. The FAA issued AD 2020-23-02 to
address defective ceramic balls in the bearing installed in the
swashplate assembly of the main rotor mast assembly, which could lead
to premature spalling of the ball itself and of the bearing, loss of
function of the bearing, and overload of the main rotor mast scissor,
resulting in reduced control of the helicopter.
Actions Since AD 2020-23-02 Was Issued
Since the FAA issued AD 2020-23-02, the FAA has determined that
additional main rotor mast assemblies are affected by the unsafe
The EASA, which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the
European Union, has issued EASA AD 2020-0264, dated December 2, 2020
(EASA AD 2020-0264) (also referred to as the Mandatory Continuing
Airworthiness Information, or the MCAI), to correct an unsafe condition
for all Airbus Helicopters Model EC225LP helicopters. EASA AD 2020-0264
supersedes EASA AD 2020-0079, dated April 1, 2020 (which corresponds to
FAA AD 2020-23-02).
This AD was prompted by a report of a manufacturing and control
issue regarding the ceramic balls in the bearing installed in the
swashplate assembly of the main rotor mast assembly. The FAA is issuing
this AD to address defective ceramic balls in the bearing installed in
the swashplate assembly of the main rotor mast assembly, which could
lead to premature spalling of the ball itself and of the bearing, loss
of function of the bearing, and overload of the main rotor mast
scissor, resulting in reduced control of the helicopter. See the MCAI
for additional background information.
Explanation of Retained Requirements
Although this AD does not explicitly restate the requirements of AD
2020-23-02, this AD retains all of the requirements of AD 2020-23-02.
requirements are referenced in EASA AD 2020-0264, which, in turn, is
referenced in paragraph (g) of this AD.
Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51
EASA AD 2020-0264 describes procedures for repetitive inspections
of the main rotor mast swashplate assembly for discrepancies (ceramic
balls that have a hard point or sensitive axial play or both), and
replacement of an affected main rotor mast assembly with a serviceable
main rotor mast assembly. This material 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 product has been approved by the aviation authority of another
country, and is approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant
to the FAA's bilateral agreement with the State of Design Authority,
the FAA has been notified of the unsafe condition described in the MCAI
referenced above. The FAA is issuing this AD because the FAA has
evaluated all pertinent information and determined the unsafe condition
exists and is likely to exist or develop on other products of products
of the same type design.
Requirements of This AD
This AD requires accomplishing the actions specified in EASA AD
2020-0264 described previously, as incorporated by reference, except
for any differences identified as exceptions in the regulatory text of
Explanation of Required Compliance Information
In the FAA's ongoing efforts to improve the efficiency of the AD
process, the FAA initially worked with Airbus and EASA to develop a
process to use certain EASA ADs as the primary source of information
for compliance with requirements for corresponding FAA ADs. The FAA has
since coordinated with other manufacturers and civil aviation
authorities (CAAs) to use this process. As a result, in EASA AD 2020-
0264 is incorporated by reference in this AD. This AD, therefore,
requires compliance with EASA AD 2020-0264 in its entirety, through
that incorporation, except for any differences identified as exceptions
in the regulatory text of this AD. Using common terms that are the same
as the heading of a particular section in the EASA AD does not mean
that operators need comply only with that section. For example, where
the AD requirement refers to ``all required actions and compliance
times,'' compliance with this AD requirement is not limited to the
section titled ``Required Action(s) and Compliance Time(s)'' in the
EASA AD. Service information specified in EASA AD 2020-0264 that is
required for compliance with EASA AD 2020-0264 is available on the
internet at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating
Docket No. FAA-2021-0096.
The FAA considers this AD interim action and further AD action may
FAA's Justification and Determination of the Effective Date
Section 553(b)(3)(B) of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C.)
authorizes agencies to dispense with notice and comment procedures for
rules when the agency, for ``good cause'' finds that those procedures
are ``impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.''
Under this section, an agency, upon finding good cause, may issue a
final rule without seeking comment prior to the rulemaking
An unsafe condition exists that requires the immediate adoption of
this AD without providing an opportunity for public comments prior to
adoption. The FAA has found that the risk to the flying public
justifies waiving notice and comment prior to adoption of this rule
because defective ceramic balls in the bearing installed in the
swashplate assembly of the main rotor mast assembly could lead to
premature spalling of the ball itself and of the bearing, loss of
function of the bearing, and overload of the main rotor mast scissor,
resulting in reduced control of the helicopter. This AD adds other
affected main rotor mast assemblies to those identified in AD 2020-23-
02. In addition, the compliance time for the initial instance of the
repetitive inspections is 50 hours time-in-service, a time period of
less than 2 months based on the average flight-hour utilization rate of
these helicopters. Accordingly, the compliance time for the required
action is shorter than the time necessary for the public to comment and
for publication of the final rule. Therefore, notice and opportunity
for prior public comment are impracticable and contrary to public
interest pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B). In addition, for the
reasons stated above, the FAA finds that good cause exists pursuant to
5 U.S.C. 553(d) for making this amendment effective in less than 30
The FAA invites you to send any written relevant data, views, or
arguments about this AD. Send your comments to an address listed under
ADDRESSES. Include ``Docket No. FAA-2021-0096; Project Identifier MCAI-
2021-00040-R'' at the beginning of your comments. The most helpful
comments reference a specific portion of the final rule, explain the
reason for any recommended change, and include supporting data. The FAA
will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend
this final rule because of those comments.
Except for Confidential Business Information (CBI) as described in
the following paragraph, and other information as described in 14 CFR
11.35, the FAA will post all comments received, without change, to
https://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you
provide. The agency will also post a report summarizing each
substantive verbal contact received about this final rule.
Confidential Business Information
CBI is commercial or financial information that is both customarily
and actually treated as private by its owner. Under the Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) (5 U.S.C. 552), CBI is exempt from public
disclosure. If your comments responsive to this AD contain commercial
or financial information that is customarily treated as private, that
you actually treat as private, and that is relevant or responsive to
this AD, it is important that you clearly designate the submitted
comments as CBI. Please mark each page of your submission containing
CBI as ``PROPIN.'' The FAA will treat such marked submissions as
confidential under the FOIA, and they will not be placed in the public
docket of this AD. Submissions containing CBI should be sent to
Kathleen Arrigotti, Aerospace Engineer, Large Aircraft Section,
International Validation Branch, FAA, 2200 South 216th St., Des Moines,
WA 98198; phone and fax: 206-231-3218; email:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Any commentary that the FAA receives which
is not specifically designated as CBI will be placed in the public
docket for this rulemaking.
Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)
The requirements of the RFA do not apply when an agency finds good
cause pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553 to adopt a rule without prior notice and
comment. Because the FAA has determined that it has good cause to adopt
this rule without notice and comment, RFA analysis is not required.
Costs of Compliance
The FAA estimates that this AD affects 30 helicopters of U.S.
registry. The FAA estimates the following costs to comply with this AD:
Estimated Costs for Required Actions
||Cost per product
||Cost on U.S. operators
|Retained actions from AD 2020-23-02
||4 work-hours x $85 per hour =
|| 4 work-hours x $85 per hour
The FAA estimates the following costs
to do any necessary on-
condition action that would be required based on the results of any
required action. The FAA has no way of determining the number of
helicopters that might need this on-condition action:
Estimated Costs of On-Condition Actions
|100 work-hours x $85 per hour
* Airbus Helicopters informed the
FAA that the parts cost will vary for
each aircraft, and be determined by several factors, including the
condition of the returned assembly. Airbus Helicopters provided
information indicating the cost may be as low as $270,000 per
aircraft. For the purposes of this AD, the FAA estimates the average
cost will be between $270,000 and $500,000 per aircraft.
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 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 12866, and
(2) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska.
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)
2020-23-02, Amendment 39-21318 (85 FR 73607, November 19, 2020), and
adding the following new AD: