DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Aviation Administration
14 CFR Part 39
[Docket No. FAA-2021-0364; Project Identifier MCAI-2020-00274-R]
Airworthiness Directives; Leonardo S.p.a. Helicopters
AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.
ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).
SUMMARY: The FAA proposes to adopt a new airworthiness directive
for Leonardo S.p.a. (Leonardo) Model A109S and AW109SP helicopters with
a certain part-numbered vertical fin vibration absorber installation
installed. This proposed AD would require repetitive inspections of the
vertical fin vibration absorber installation and the surrounding
structure and depending on the inspection results, removing certain parts
from service. This proposed AD would also prohibit installing certain
part-numbered vertical fin vibration absorber installations. This proposed
AD was prompted by a report of cracks and damage detected on the vertical
fin absorber installation and surrounding structure during scheduled in-
spections. The actions of this proposed AD are intended to address an
safe condition on these products.
DATES: The FAA must receive comments on this proposed AD by June
ADDRESSES: You may send comments by any of the following methods:
Federal eRulemaking Docket: Go to https://www.regulations.gov. Follow
online instructions for sending your comments electronically.
Fax: (202) 493-2251.
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.
For service information identified in this proposed rule, contact
Leonardo S.p.a. Helicopters, Emanuele Bufano, Head of Airworthiness,
Viale G.Agusta 520, 21017 C.Costa di Samarate (Va) Italy; telephone
+39-0331-225074; fax +39-0331-229046; or at https://www.leonardocompany.
com/en/home. You may view 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 https://www.regulations.
gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2021-0364;
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 NPRM, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AD, any
comments received, and other information. The street address for Docket
Operations is listed above.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kristin Bradley, Aerospace Engineer,
General Aviation & Rotorcraft Section, International Validation Branch,
FAA, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Fort Worth, TX 76177; telephone (817) 222-
5110; email Kristin.Bradley@faa.gov.
The FAA invites you to send any written relevant data, views, or
arguments about this proposal. Send your comments to an address listed
under ADDRESSES. Include "Docket No. FAA-2021-0364; Project Identifier
MCAI-2020-00274-R" at the beginning of your comments. The most helpful
comments reference a specific portion of the proposal, 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 proposal 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 NPRM.
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 NPRM 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 NPRM, 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 NPRM. Submissions containing CBI should be sent to
Kristin Bradley, Aerospace Engineer, General Aviation & Rotorcraft
Section, International Validation Branch, FAA, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy.,
Fort Worth, TX 76177; telephone (817) 222-5110; email
Kristin.Bradley@faa.gov. Any commentary that the FAA receives which is
not specifically designated as CBI will be placed in the public docket
for this rulemaking.
EASA, which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the
European Union, issued EASA AD 2014-0150, dated June 18, 2014 (EASA AD
2014-0150), to correct an unsafe condition for certain AgustaWestland
S.p.A. (now Leonardo S.p.a. Helicopters) (formerly Agusta S.p.A.) Model
A109S and AW109SP helicopters, with absorber part number (P/N) 109-
B810-79-101installed. EASA advises that during a scheduled inspection
on Model A109S and AW109SP helicopters, cracks and damage were detected
on the vertical fin vibration absorber installation and the surrounding
structure. EASA states investigation results determined the cracks and
damage were likely related to the design of the vertical fin vibration
absorber installation and incorrect installation. Accordingly, EASA AD
2014-0150 required repetitive inspections and removal of the affected
After EASA AD 2014-0150 was issued, EASA determined certain
helicopters were not included in the applicability and may also be
subject to the unsafe condition. Accordingly, EASA issued EASA AD 2019-
0294, dated December 4, 2019 (EASA AD 2019-0294), which supersedes EASA
AD 2014-0150. EASA AD 2019-0294 retains the requirements of EASA AD
2014-0150, and expands the applicability, prohibits vertical fin
vibration absorber installation P/N 109-B810-79-101 from being
installed on any helicopter, and considers removal of the affected part
to constitute terminating action for the repetitive inspections. EASA
states this condition if not detected and corrected could affect the
structural integrity of the helicopter.
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 about the
unsafe condition described in its AD. The FAA is proposing this AD
after evaluating all known relevant information and determining that an
unsafe condition is likely to exist or develop on other helicopters of
the same type designs.
Related Service Information
The FAA reviewed AgustaWestland S.p.A. Bollettino Technico (BT) No.
109S-58 for Model A109S helicopters, and AgustaWestland S.p.A BT No.
109SP-074 for Model AW109SP helicopters, each dated May 7, 2014. This
service information specifies instructions for removing the vertical
fin vibration absorber installation, inspecting the rib assembly and
vertical fin vibration absorber installation and depending on the
inspection results, removing certain parts from service.
Proposed AD Requirements in This NPRM
This proposed AD would require within 30 hours time-in-service
(TIS) after the effective date of this AD, and thereafter every 100
hours TIS, removing the vertical fin vibration absorber installation P/N
109-B810-79-101, and using a mirror and light source, inspecting the
rib assembly and depending on the inspection results, removing certain
parts from service. This proposed AD would also require inspecting the
vertical fin vibration absorber installation P/N 109-B810-79-101 for
hole elongation; for fretting between the plate and the masses, and in-
between the masses; for fretting on the doubler; and the bolts for
scratches and corrosion. Depending on the inspection results, this
proposed AD would require removing the vertical fin vibration absorber
installation P/N 109-B810-79-101 from service. This proposed AD would
also require, within 12 months TIS after the effective date of this AD,
unless already accomplished, removing the vertical fin vibration
absorber installation P/N 109-B810-79-101 from service. This proposed
AD would also prohibit installing an affected part on any helicopter,
and would provide a terminating action for the 100 hour TIS repetitive
Differences Between This Proposed AD and the EASA AD
EASA AD 2019-0294 applies to certain serial-numbered Model A109S
and AW109SP helicopters, whereas this proposed AD would apply to all
serial-numbered Model A109S and AW109SP helicopters with a certain
part-numbered vertical fin vibration absorber installation installed.
Costs of Compliance
The FAA estimates that this proposed AD would affect 96 helicopters
of U.S. Registry. The FAA estimates that operators may incur the
following costs in order to comply with this proposed AD. Labor costs
are estimated at $85 per work-hour.
Removing and inspecting the vertical fin vibration absorber
installation and surrounding structure would take about 8 work-hours
for an estimated cost of $680 per helicopter per inspection cycle and
$65,280 for the U.S. fleet per inspection cycle.
Replacing the rib assembly, shim, doubler, and bracket would take
about 16 work-hours and parts would cost about $10,000 for an estimated
cost of $11,360 per helicopter.
According to Leonardo some of the costs of this proposed AD may be
covered under warranty, thereby reducing the cost impact on affected
individuals. The FAA does not control warranty coverage by Leonardo.
Accordingly, all costs are included in this 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.
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 proposed AD would not have federalism
implications under Executive Order 13132. This proposed AD would 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 this proposed regulation:
1. Is not a "significant regulatory action" under Executive Order
2. Would not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska, and
3. Would 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
The Proposed Amendment
Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the
Administrator, the FAA proposes to amend 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