DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Aviation Administration
14 CFR Part 39
[Docket No. FAA-2021-0348; Project Identifier 2018-SW-076-AD; Amendment
39-21645; AD 2021-14-18]
Airworthiness Directives; Leonardo S.p.a. (Type Certificate
Previously Held by Agusta S.p.A.) Helicopters
AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: The FAA is superseding Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2011-18-52
for certain Agusta S.p.A. (now Leonardo S.p.a.) Model AB139 and AW139
helicopters. AD 2011-18-52 required revising the life limit for certain
part-numbered tail rotor (T/R) blades, updating the helicopter's
historical records, repetitively inspecting each T/R blade for a crack
or damage, and depending on the results, replacing the T/R blade. This
AD was prompted by the manufacturer developing improved T/R blades
using different materials and establishing life limits for each
improved blade. This AD retains certain requirements from AD 2011-18-
52, revises certain requirements from AD 2011-18-52, and expands the
applicability to include the newly-designed T/R blades. The FAA is
issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.
DATES: This AD is effective August 24, 2021.
The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by
reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of August 24,
ADDRESSES: For service information identified in this final 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 this service
information at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region,
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 at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and
locating Docket No. FAA-2021-0348.
Examining the AD Docket
You may examine the AD docket at https://www.regulations.gov by
searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2021-0348; 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 final rule, the
European Aviation Safety Agency (now European Union Aviation Safety
Agency) (EASA) AD, any comments received, and other information. The
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: Matt Fuller, AD Program Manager,
General Aviation & Rotorcraft Unit, Airworthiness Products Section,
Operational Safety Branch, FAA, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Fort Worth, TX
76177; telephone (817) 222-5110; email email@example.com.
The FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14
CFR part 39 to supersede AD 2011-18-52, Amendment 39-17020 (77 FR
23109, April 18, 2012) (AD 2011-18-52). AD 2011-18-52 applied to Agusta
S.p.A. (now Leonardo S.p.a.) Model AB139 and AW139 helicopters with a
T/R blade part number (P/N) 3G6410A00131 or P/N 4G6410A00131 installed.
The NPRM published in the Federal Register on May 10, 2021 (86 FR
24780). AD 2011-18-52 required, within 5 hours time-in-service (TIS),
establishing a life limit of 600 hours TIS or 1,500 takeoff and landing
cycles (cycles), whichever occurs first, on the affected T/R blades and
updating the helicopter's historical records. If a T/R blade's total
number of cycles was unknown, determining the T/R blade cycles by
multiplying the T/R blade's hours TIS by 4 was required. For a T/R
blade that, on the effective date of AD 2011-18-52, had already
exceeded 600 hours TIS or 1,500 cycles, the AD required replacing the
T/R blade with an airworthy T/R blade within 5 hours TIS.
AD 2011-18-52 also required, within 25 hours TIS, and thereafter at
intervals not to exceed 25 hours TIS, inspecting the T/R blade for a
crack or damage that exceeds the limits of the applicable maintenance
manual. The inspection was required to be accomplished using a mirror,
magnifying glass (5X or greater), and light source; or borescope. If
there was a crack, or if there was damage that exceeded the limits of
the applicable maintenance manual, AD 2011-18-52 required, before
further flight, replacing the T/R blade with an airworthy T/R blade.
AD 2011-18-52 was prompted by a fatal accident involving an Agusta
Model AW139 helicopter, which may have been caused by cracks in a T/R
blade. EASA, which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the
European Union, issued EASA Emergency AD 2011-0156-E, dated August 25,
2011 (EASA AD 2011-0156-E) to require repetitive inspections and
reducing the life limit of the T/R blades. According to EASA, this
condition, if not detected and corrected, could result in failure of a
T/R blade and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.
After the FAA issued AD 2011-18-52, EASA issued a series of ADs as
EASA AD 2012-0030, dated February 17, 2012 (EASA AD 2012-
0030), which superseded Emergency AD 2011-0156-E, advised that the
manufacturer developed improved, newly-designed T/R blades P/N
3G6410A00132 and P/N 4G6410A00132, established life limits for each
improved T/R blade, added repetitive inspections for the improved T/R
blades, and advised that each T/R blade P/N had its own individual life
EASA AD 2012-0076, dated May 2, 2012 (EASA AD 2012-0076),
which superseded EASA AD 2012-0030 and was issued after the
manufacturer developed another version of improved T/R blades P/N
3G6410A00133 and P/N 4G6410A00133 with different materials. AD 2012-
0076 required interim life limits for the new improved version of the
T/R blades while also retaining the inspection requirements of EASA AD
EASA AD 2012-0076R1, dated July 13, 2012 (EASA AD 2012-
0076R1), which revised EASA AD 2012-0076 after a modification was
developed to allow installation of certain part-numbered T/R blades
under certain conditions.
EASA AD 2012-0076R2, dated February 20, 2014 (EASA AD
2012-0076R2), which revised EASA AD 2012-0076R1, was issued after
another modification was developed. EASA AD 2012-0076R2 requires
removing the 25 hours TIS inspection of certain part-numbered T/R
blades, extending the life
limit of certain part-numbered T/R blades, retaining the repetitive
inspections of certain part-numbered T/R blades and depending on the
inspection results, performing certain applicable corrections.
Also, after AD 2011-18-52 was issued, the FAA issued an NPRM (78 FR
54596), which published in the Federal Register on September 5, 2013.
The NPRM proposed to require retaining the inspection requirements for
certain part-numbered blades and expand the applicability to include
the newly designed blades and establish life limits for those blades.
The NPRM also proposed to require replacing any cracked blade or any
blade that has reached its life limit. That NPRM was prompted by
improved modifications of the T/R blades. However, because the FAA
determined that the NPRM did not adequately address the identified
unsafe condition, the NPRM was withdrawn on February 25, 2021 (86 FR
Additional review also revealed necessary changes to address the
unsafe condition. Therefore, in the NPRM published in the Federal
Register on May 10, 2021 (86 FR 24780), the FAA proposed to clarify the
repetitive inspection for T/R blade P/Ns 3G6410A00131 and P/N
4G6410A00131 from, ``visually inspect the T/R blade for a crack or
damage'' to ``visually inspect the T/R blade for a crack and damage.''
The NPRM further proposed to revise that repetitive inspection from
``damage that exceeds the limits of the applicable maintenance manual''
to ``damage that exceeds allowable limits'' to meet current publishing
requirements. The NPRM also clarified the inspection area for that
repetitive inspection by proposing to require using a figure in the
related service information instead of using a figure in the body of
the AD action. The NPRM also proposed to revise the requirements of AD
2011-18-52 by removing unnecessary information, including the special
flight permits paragraph.
Discussion of Final Airworthiness Directive
The FAA received no comments on the NPRM or on the determination of
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 reviewed the relevant
data and determined that air safety requires adopting this AD as
proposed. Accordingly, the FAA is issuing this AD to address the unsafe
condition on these helicopters.
Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51
The FAA reviewed AgustaWestland Mandatory Bollettino Tecnico No.
139-265, Revision B, dated February 18, 2014. This service information
specifies a precautionary inspection for a crack, a life limit for the
affected T/R blades, and a quarantine of T/R blades that have exceeded
their life limit. This service information also provides instructions
for mixed usage of the affected T/R blades and sending certain data to
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.
Differences Between This AD and the EASA AD
The EASA AD does not list the T/R blade life limits and instead
references the Airworthiness Limitations Section of AW139 AMPI Chapter
4, while this AD includes the life limits in the AD. The EASA AD
requires reporting information to Product Support Engineering, whereas
this AD does not. The EASA AD requires contacting AgustaWestland if a
crack or damage is found during the inspection, whereas this AD
requires removing the T/R blade from service.
Costs of Compliance
The FAA estimates that this AD affects 130 helicopters of U.S.
Registry and that operators may incur the following costs in order to
comply with this AD. Labor costs are estimated at $85 per work-hour.
Inspecting one T/R blade for a crack will take about 1 work-hour
for an estimated cost of $85 per T/R blade per inspection cycle and up
to $44,200 for the U.S. fleet per inspection cycle.
Replacing one T/R blade will take about 8 work-hours and parts will
cost about $40,560 for an estimated cost of $41,240 per replacement.
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.
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
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) 2011-18-52, Amendment 39-17020
(77 FR 23109, April 18, 2012); and
b. Adding the following new AD: