DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Aviation Administration
14 CFR Part 39
[Docket No. FAA-2020-1182; Product Identifier 2018-SW-036-AD; Amendment
39-21518; AD 2021-09-05]
Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Helicopters
AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: The FAA is superseding Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2016-08-20
for certain Airbus Helicopters (previously Eurocopter France) EC130B4
and EC130T2 helicopters. AD 2016-08-20 required repetitively inspecting
the tail boom to Fenestron junction frame (junction frame) for a crack.
This new AD continues to require inspecting the junction frame with the
horizontal stabilizer removed, and expands the applicability, revises
the compliance time and the inspection procedures for inspecting the
junction frame, adds inspection procedures for certain helicopters,
allows repair of the junction frame, and requires modifying and then
repetitively inspecting the junction frame and reporting certain
information. This AD was prompted by additional cracks and the
availability of a design change that modifies the junction frame. The
actions of this AD are intended to address an unsafe condition on these
DATES: This AD is effective June 2, 2021.
The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by
reference of certain publications listed in this AD as of June 2, 2021.
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 https://www.airbus.com/helicopters/services/technical-support.html.
You may view this 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 https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating
Docket No. FAA-2020-1182.
Examining the AD Docket
You may examine the AD docket on the internet at https://www.regulations.
gov in Docket No. FAA-2020-1182; 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) 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: Kristi Bradley, Aerospace Engineer,
General Aviation & Rotorcraft Section, International Validation Branch,
Compliance & Airworthiness Division, FAA, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Fort
Worth, TX 76177; telephone (817) 222-5110; email
The FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14
CFR part 39 to remove AD 2016-08-20, Amendment 39-18497 (81 FR 26103,
May 2, 2016) (2016-08-20), and add a new AD. AD 2016-08-20 applied to
Airbus Helicopters Model EC130B4 and EC130T2 helicopters with a
junction frame that has 690 or more hours time-in-service (TIS)
installed. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on March 5, 2021
(86 FR 12857). The NPRM proposed to require, for all Airbus Helicopters
Model EC130B4 and EC130T2 helicopters with a junction frame:
For helicopters without MOD 074775, or MOD AH 350A087421
or SB EC130-53-029 installed, at a compliance time based on the hours
TIS accumulated on the junction frame, removing the horizontal
stabilizer, cleaning the junction frame, and visually inspecting the
junction frame area for a crack, paying particular attention to the
area around the 4 spars.
- Following the initial visual inspection, within 25 hours TIS
or 390 sling cycles, whichever comes first, and thereafter at intervals
not exceeding 25 hours TIS or 390 sling cycles, whichever comes first,
either repeating the initial visual inspection, or, if the surface area
is clean, borescope inspecting the junction frame area for a crack,
paying particular attention to the area around the 4 spars.
- Also following the initial visual inspection, within 150
hours TIS and thereafter at intervals not to exceed 150 hours TIS,
repeating the initial visual inspection.
For helicopters without MOD 074775 installed, but with MOD
AH 350A087421 or SB EC130-53-029 installed, before the junction frame
accumulates 350 hours TIS or within 10 hours TIS, whichever occurs
later, visually inspecting for a crack on the junction frame area in
each skin cut-out area.
- Following the initial visual inspection, within 10 hours TIS
or 250 sling cycles, whichever occurs first, and thereafter at
intervals not exceeding 10 hours TIS or 250 sling cycles, whichever
occurs first, repeating the initial visual inspection.
- Also following the initial visual inspection, within 660
hours TIS and thereafter at intervals not to exceed 660 hours TIS,
removing the horizontal stabilizer, cleaning the junction frame, and
dye-penetrant inspecting the junction frame area for a crack, paying
particular attention to the area around the 4 spars.
If there is a crack, replacing or repairing the junction
frame in accordance with an FAA approved repair procedure before
further flight. Repairing the junction frame would not constitute
terminating action for the requirements of this AD.
For helicopters without MOD 074775 installed, with or
without MOD AH 350A087421 or SB EC130-53-029 installed, without MOD
074609 or SB 53-024 installed, and on which the skin of the junction
frame area has never been repaired, installing MOD 074775 within 24
months as of the effective date
of this AD and reporting certain information to Airbus Helicopters
within 30 days after installing MOD 074775.
For helicopters without MOD 074775 installed, with MOD
074609 or SB 53-024 installed, or on which the skin of the junction
frame area has been previously repaired at any time, reinforcing the
junction frame by replacing the two lateral splices which join the
skins with four carbon patches (left-hand side, right-hand side, and
lower sides) within 24 months as of the effective date of this AD.
For helicopters with MOD 074775 installed or with the four
carbon patches reinforcements installed, but without MOD 074581 for
Model EC130T2 helicopters, within 600 hours TIS after the installation
of MOD 074775 or the reinforcement, and thereafter at intervals not
exceeding 600 hours TIS, visually inspect the junction frame area for
crack. If there is a crack, replacing or repairing the junction frame
in accordance with an FAA approved repair procedure before further
flight. Repairing the junction frame would not constitute terminating
action for the requirements of this AD.
The NPRM was prompted by a series of EASA ADs that have been issued
since the FAA issued AD 2016-08-20, the most recent being EASA AD 2018-
0104, dated May 4, 2018 (EASA AD 2018-0104), issued by EASA, which is
the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, to
correct an unsafe condition for Airbus Helicopters (formerly
Eurocopter, Eurocopter France) Model EC 130 B4 and EC 130 T2
helicopters, all serial numbers, except those with Airbus modification
(MOD) 074775 installed. EASA's initial AD was prompted by two incidents
of crack propagation through the junction frame that initiated in the
lower right-hand side between the web and the flange where the lower
spar of the tail boom is joined. EASA stated the cracks were of a
significant length and not visible from the outside of the helicopter.
EASA advised that this condition, if not detected, could lead to
structural failure, possibly resulting in Fenestron detachment and
consequent loss of control of the helicopter.
AD 2016-08-20 was prompted by EASA AD 2015-0033-E, dated February
24, 2015 (EASA AD 2015-0033-E). Following EASA AD 2015-0033-E, EASA
revised its AD to EASA AD 2015-0033R1, dated May 3, 2016 (EASA AD 2015-
0033R1), which was prompted by the determination that it was not
necessary to inspect junction frames that had accumulated less than
1,200 flight hours. Accordingly, EASA AD 2015-0033R1 extended the
inspection threshold from 700 flight hours to 1,200 flight hours.
Thereafter, EASA issued EASA AD 2016-0240, dated December 2, 2016 (EASA
AD 2016-0240) to supersede EASA AD 2015-0033R1. EASA AD 2016-0240 was
prompted by a third incident of cracking in the same area of the
junction frame as the first two incidents. Investigation determined
that detection of the crack was delayed because of insufficient
cleaning of the inspection area inside the junction frame. For that
reason, EASA AD 2016-0240 retained the requirements of EASA AD 2015-
0033R1 and added additional cleaning requirements before inspecting.
After EASA AD 2016-0240 was issued, a fourth incident of cracking in
the same area of the junction frame as the first three incidents was
reported. This fourth incident prompted EASA to issue EASA AD 2017-
0066-E, dated April 21, 2017 (EASA AD 2017-0066-E) to supersede EASA AD
2016-0240. This fourth incident occurred on a junction frame that had
accumulated significantly less flight hours than the first three
incidents. In light of this, EASA AD 2017-0066-E retained the
requirements of EASA AD 2016-0240 and reduced the inspection threshold.
Shortly after, EASA issued EASA AD 2017-0080, dated May 5, 2017 (EASA
AD 2017-0080) to supersede EASA AD 2017-0066-E. EASA AD 2017-0080 was
prompted by the determination that improved procedures to remove the
horizontal stabilizer before cleaning and inspecting were necessary for
certain helicopters. Accordingly, EASA AD 2017-0080 retained the
requirements of EASA AD 2017-0066-E and added the improved procedures.
Since EASA issued EASA AD 2017-0080, Airbus Helicopters developed MOD
074775, which consists of the installation of four carbon patches at
the junction frame. Installation of MOD 074775, either in production or
by retrofit, constitutes terminating action for the repetitive
inspections. Based on the latest information, EASA determined that
continued inspections may not adequately address the long-term risk and
requires modifying the affected helicopters, which also terminates the
repetitive inspections of the pre-modified configuration. Accordingly,
EASA issued EASA AD 2018-0104 to supersede EASA AD 2017-0080 to require
installation of MOD 074775.
Discussion of Final Airworthiness Directive
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 these same type designs and that air safety and the
public interest require adopting the AD requirements as proposed.
Except for a minor editorial change of ``25 hours'' to ``25 hours TIS''
in Figure 1 to paragraph (f)(1) of this AD, this AD is adopted as
proposed in the NPRM.
Differences Between This AD and the EASA AD
EASA AD 2018-0104 does not apply to helicopters with MOD 074775,
whereas this AD does. EASA AD 2018-0104 requires performing a local
non-destructive inspection if in doubt about if there is a crack,
whereas this AD does not. EASA AD 2018-0104 allows the pilot to
visually inspect the junction frame from outside the tail boom for a
crack, whereas this AD does not. EASA AD 2018-0104 requires contacting
Airbus Helicopters if any crack is detected, whereas this AD requires
replacing or repairing the junction frame in accordance with an FAA
approved repair procedure instead. This AD requires a repetitive
inspection for helicopters with MOD 074775 installed, whereas the EASA
AD does not.
Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51
The FAA reviewed Airbus Helicopters Emergency Alert Service
Bulletin No. 05A017, Revision 7, dated March 21, 2018, for Model EC130
B4 and T2 helicopters without MOD 074775 installed. This service
information specifies procedures for cleaning inside the junction
frame, inspecting the junction frame from the inside of the tail boom
with the horizontal stabilizer both removed and installed for a crack,
and inspecting the junction frame from the outside of the tail boom for
The FAA also reviewed Airbus Helicopters Service Bulletin No.
EC130-53-036, Revision 4, dated April, 28, 2020, for Model EC130 B4 and
T2 helicopters without MOD 074609 or 074775 installed and on which the
skin of the junction frame area has not been repaired. This service
information specifies procedures to reinforce the junction frame (MOD
074775) by replacing the two lateral splices which join the skins with
four carbon patches (left-hand side, right-hand side, and lower sides).
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
The FAA reviewed Airbus Helicopters Service Bulletin No. EC130-53-
029, Revision 1, dated January 27, 2016. This service information
specifies procedures to make a cut-out of the splice and skin at the
junction frame (MOD 350A087421).
The FAA reviewed Airbus EC 130 B4 Chapter 4, Airworthiness
Limitations Section, Revision 11, dated January 19, 2019, and EC 130 T2
Chapter 4, Airworthiness Limitations Section, Revision 9, dated
September 9, 2019, which specify visually checking the junction frame
for cracks at an interval of 600 flight hours with a margin of 60
The FAA also reviewed Airbus Helicopters Section 55-11-00, 6-4--
Horizontal Stabilizer--Inspection/Check, of Aircraft Maintenance Manual
EC130, dated November 9, 2017, which specifies procedures for cleaning
inside the junction frame and inspecting the junction frame from the
inside of the tail boom with the horizontal stabilizer removed.
Costs of Compliance
The FAA estimates that this AD affects 263 helicopters of U.S.
Registry. Labor rates are estimated at $85 per work-hour. Based on
these numbers, the FAA estimates that operators may incur the following
costs in order to comply with this AD.
Cleaning and inspecting the junction frame area with the horizontal
stabilizer removed takes about 1 work-hour for an estimated cost of $85
per helicopter and $22,355 for the U.S. fleet, per inspection cycle.
Internally borescope inspecting the junction frame area with the
horizontal stabilizer installed takes about 0.5 work-hour for an
estimated cost of $43 per helicopter and $11,309 for the U.S. fleet,
per inspection cycle.
If applicable, cleaning and inspecting the junction frame area in
each skin cut-out area takes about 1.25 work-hour for an estimated cost
of $106 per helicopter and $27,878 for the U.S. fleet, per inspection
Modifying the junction frame skin reinforcements takes about 90
work-hours and parts cost about $10,000 for an estimated cost of
$17,650 per helicopter and $4,641,950 for the U.S. fleet. Reporting
certain information takes about 1 work-hour for an estimated cost of
$85 per helicopter and $22,355 for the U.S. fleet. Inspecting the
modified junction frame area takes about 1 work-hour for an estimated
cost of $85 per helicopter and $22,355 for the U.S. fleet, per
If required, repairing or replacing the junction frame takes up to
50 work-hours and parts cost about $60,000 for an estimated cost of
$64,250 per helicopter.
According to Airbus Helicopters' service information, some of the
costs of this AD may be covered under warranty, thereby reducing the
cost impact on affected individuals. The FAA does not control warranty
coverage by Airbus Helicopters. Accordingly, all costs are included in
the cost estimate.
Paperwork Reduction Act
A federal agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not
required to respond to, nor shall a person be subject to a penalty for
failure to comply with a collection of information subject to the
requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act unless that collection of
information displays a currently valid OMB Control Number. The OMB
Control Number for this information collection is 2120-0056. Public
reporting for this collection of information is estimated to be
approximately 1 hour per response, including the time for reviewing
instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and
maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the
collection of information. All responses to this collection of
information are mandatory. Send comments regarding this burden estimate
or any other aspect of this collection of information, including
suggestions for reducing this burden to: Information Collection
Clearance Officer, Federal Aviation Administration, 10101 Hillwood
Parkway, Fort Worth, TX 76177-1524.
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 2016-08-20, Amendment 39-18497 (81
FR 26103, May 2, 2016); and
b. Adding the following new airworthiness directive: