DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Aviation Administration
14 CFR Part 39
[Docket No. FAA-2021-0947; Project Identifier MCAI-2021-00195-R]
Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Helicopters
AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.
ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).
SUMMARY: The FAA proposes to adopt a new airworthiness directive
for all Airbus Helicopters Model AS350B, AS350BA, AS350B1, AS350B2,
AS350B3, AS350D, EC130B4, and EC130T2 helicopters; Model AS355E,
AS355F, AS355F1, AS355F2, AS355N, and AS355NP helicopters; and Model
SA-365C1, SA-365C2, SA-365N, SA-365N1, AS-365N2, and AS 365 N3
helicopters. This proposed AD was prompted by a report of increased
vibration during flight. This proposed AD would require the application
of alignment markings on, and repetitive inspections of, the main rotor
(MR) pitch rod upper links and, depending on findings, the
accomplishment of applicable corrective actions, as specified in a
European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AD, which is proposed for
incorporation by reference (IBR). The FAA is proposing this AD to
address the unsafe condition on these products.
DATES: The FAA must receive comments on this proposed AD by December
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
for submitting comments.
Fax: (202) 493-2251.
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: Deliver to Mail address above between 9
a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
For EASA material that is proposed for IBR in this AD, contact
EASA, Konrad-Adenauer-Ufer 3, 50668 Cologne, Germany; telephone +49 221
8999 000; email ADs@easa.europa.eu; internet www.easa.europa.eu. You
may find the EASA 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. The EASA material is also
available at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating
Docket No. FAA-2021-0947.
Examining the AD Docket
You may examine the AD docket at https://www.regulations.gov by
searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2021-0947; 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 EASA AD,
any comments received, and other information. The
street address for Docket Operations is listed above.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrea Jimenez, Aerospace Engineer,
COS Program Management Section, Operational Safety Branch, Compliance
Airworthiness Division, FAA, 1600 Stewart Ave., Suite 410, Westbury, NY
11590; telephone (516) 228-7330; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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-2021-0947; Project Identifier
MCAI-2021-00195-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
Andrea Jimenez, Aerospace Engineer, COS Program Management Section,
Operational Safety Branch, Compliance & Airworthiness Division, FAA,
1600 Stewart Ave., Suite 410, Westbury, NY 11590; telephone (516) 228-
7330; email email@example.com. Any commentary that the FAA
receives that 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, has issued EASA AD 2021-0048, dated February 16, 2021
(EASA AD 2021-0048), to correct an unsafe condition for Airbus
Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter, Eurocopter France,
A[eacute]rospatiale) Model AS 350 B, AS 350 BA, AS 350 BB, AS 350 B1,
AS 350 B2, AS 350 B3, AS 350 D, EC 130 B4, and EC 130 T2 helicopters;
Model AS 355 E, AS 355 F, AS 355 F1, AS 355 F2, AS 355 N, and AS 355 NP
helicopters; and Model SA 365 C1, SA 365 C2, SA 365 C3, SA 365 N, SA
365 N1, AS 365 N2, and AS 365 N3 helicopters; all serial numbers. Model
AS 350 BB and SA 365 C3 helicopters are not certificated by the FAA and
are not included on the U.S. type certificate data sheet; this proposed
AD therefore does not include those helicopters in the applicability.
This proposed AD was prompted by a report of increased vibration
during flight by the crew of an Airbus Helicopters Model AS 365
helicopter. Subsequent investigation found a total loss of tightening
torque of one screw connecting the MR pitch rod to the horn of its
upper link, which led to abnormal wear of the screw and consequently
increased the vibrations coming from the MR control chain to the
pilot's flight controls. The MR pitch rod upper link installation is
identical on Model AS 350, EC 130, AS 355, SA 365 and AS 365
helicopters, therefore, these models may be subject to the unsafe
condition revealed on the Model AS 365 helicopter. The FAA is proposing
this AD to address loss of tightening torque of the screws connecting
the MR pitch rods to the horns of the upper links. This condition, if
not addressed, could result in loss of one or more MR pitch rod upper
links, possibly resulting in loss of control of the helicopter. See
EASA AD 2021-0048 for additional background information.
Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51
EASA AD 2021-0048 requires the application of alignment markings on
the screw, washer, nut, and horn on both sides of each MR pitch rod
upper link, and repetitive visual inspections of the two alignment
markings to determine if the markings are aligned on both sides. If,
during any inspection the markings on one or both sides of a MR pitch
rod upper link are found misaligned, the additional actions and
corrective actions include the following.
Measuring the tightening torque value of the nut of the
pitch rod upper link and adjusting the nut if it does not meet the
Inspecting the pitch rod upper link to determine the
condition of the bush (bushing) and spherical bearing and to determine
if the cups are tight (paint mark in place), and measuring the play. If
there is seizing, carbide chips, or the cups are loose (paint mark not
in place), the corrective actions include replacing the spherical
bearing. If the play measurement is greater than the specified
measurement the corrective action is replacing the rod end fitting.
Additional actions include checking the bonding and condition of the
retaining ring and inspecting the pitch rod bodies for evidence of any
impact, scratch, strike, or corrosion.
Inspecting the pitch rods for chipped finish paint,
scratches, impacts, and cracking, and measuring the play. If paint is
chipped the corrective action is repair (sanding the affected area and
applying touch-up primer and paint). If there is any scratch, an impact
with a depth equal to or greater than the specified measurement, or any
crack, the corrective action is replacing the pitch rod. If the play
measurement is greater than 0.25 mm or there is cracking, the
corrective action is replacing the spherical bearing. An additional
action, if a helicopter was involved in an incident, is inspecting the
straightness of the rod body ``R'' and replacing the pitch rod if the
straightness of the rod body is greater than 0.5 mm.
Inspecting the pitch horn for any evidence of impact,
scratch, corrosion, chipped paint, cracking, and any elongated
attachment hole; and inspecting the bonding of the retaining ring and
measuring dimension ``X'' of the retaining ring. If there is any
evidence of impact, scratch, or corrosion, and the depth meets the
specified criteria, the corrective actions include touching up the
affected area with an abrasive cloth and applying a protective coating
and a coat of primer. If there is any cracking, elongated attachment
hole, or the impact, scratch, or corrosion depth exceeds the specified
criteria, the corrective action is replacing the pitch horn. If paint
is chipped the corrective actions include sanding the affected area and
applying touch-up primer and paint. If the retaining ring has debonded
the corrective action is to rebond the retaining ring. If dimension
``X'' of the retaining ring exceeds the specified
criteria, the corrective action is replacing the retaining ring.
Measuring the geometry of ``G'' of the pitch horn and
replacing the pitch horn if the dimension is not within the specified
Installing new split pins, nuts, washers, and a screw on
the pitch rod upper link.
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.
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
the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop
on other helicopters of these same type designs.
Proposed AD Requirements in This NPRM
This proposed AD would require accomplishing the actions specified
in EASA AD 2021-0048, described previously, as incorporated by
reference, except for any differences identified as exceptions in the
regulatory text of this proposed AD.
Explanation of Required Compliance Information
In the FAA's ongoing efforts to improve the efficiency of the AD
process, the FAA developed a process to use some civil aviation
authority (CAA) ADs as the primary source of information for compliance
with requirements for corresponding FAA ADs. The FAA has been
coordinating this process with manufacturers and CAAs. As a result, the
FAA proposes to incorporate EASA AD 2021-0048 by reference in the FAA
final rule. This proposed AD would, therefore, require compliance with
EASA AD 2021-0048 in its entirety through that incorporation, except
for any differences identified as exceptions in the regulatory text of
this proposed AD. Using common terms that are the same as the heading
of a particular section in EASA AD 2021-0048 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 EASA AD 2021-
0048. Service information required by EASA AD 2021-0048 for compliance
will be available at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and
locating Docket No. FAA-2021-0947 after the FAA final rule is
Costs of Compliance
The FAA estimates that this AD, if adopted as proposed, would
affect 1,266 helicopters of U.S. Registry. The FAA estimates the
following costs to comply with this proposed AD:
Estimated Costs *
||Cost per product
||Cost on U.S. operators
||0.50 work-hour x $85 per hour
= $42.50 per inspection cycle
||$42.50 per inspection
* The FAA has determined that application
of alignment markings would take
a minimal amount of time at a nominal cost.
The FAA estimates the following costs to do any necessary actions
that would be required based on the results of the proposed inspection.
The agency has no way of determining the number of aircraft that might
need these actions:
On-Condition Costs *
||Cost per product
|Screw, Washer, Nut, and Split
||1 work-hour x $85 per hour =
|Spherical Bearing Replacement
||4 work hours x $85 per hour =
|Pitch Rod Replacement
||4 work hours x $85 per hour =
|Pitch Horn Replacement
||16 work hours x $85 per hour
* The FAA has determined that ``repair''
of chipped paint would take a minimal
amount of time at a nominal cost.
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 above, I certify this proposed
(1) Is not a ``significant regulatory action'' under Executive
(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