DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Aviation Administration
14 CFR Part 39
[Docket No. FAA-2021-0606; Project Identifier 2019-SW-070-AD; Amendment
39-21832; AD 2021-24-11]
Airworthiness Directives; Leonardo S.p.a. Helicopters
AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: The FAA is adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD)
certain Leonardo S.p.a. Model A109E, A109S, and AW109SP helicopters.
This AD was prompted by reports of main landing gear (MLG) wheel
assembly failure. This AD requires repetitive inspections of each
affected MLG strut assembly and, depending on the findings, replacement
of an affected MLG strut assembly with a serviceable assembly, or
application of corrosion preventive compound, 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 is effective January 14, 2022.
The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by
reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of January 14,
ADDRESSES: For EASA material incorporated by reference (IBR) in
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. It is also available
in the AD docket at https://www.regulations.gov by searching for and
locating Docket No. FAA-2021-0606.
Examining the AD Docket
You may examine the AD docket at https://www.regulations.gov by
searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2021-0606; 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
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: Darren Gassetto, Aerospace Engineer,
COS Program Management Section, Operational Safety Branch, Compliance
Airworthiness Division, FAA, 1600 Stewart Ave., Suite 410, Westbury, NY
11590; telephone (516) 228-7323; email Darren.Gassetto@faa.gov.
EASA, which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the
European Union, has issued EASA AD 2019-0182, dated July 26, 2019 (EASA
AD 2019-0182), to correct an unsafe condition for Leonardo S.p.A.
Helicopters, formerly Finmeccanica S.p.A. Helicopter Division,
AgustaWestland S.p.A., Agusta S.p.A., Model A109E, A109LUH, A109S, and
AW109SP helicopters, all serial numbers. Model A109LUH helicopters are
not certificated by the FAA and are not included on the U.S. type
certificate data sheet; this AD therefore does not include those
helicopters in the applicability. Although EASA AD 2019-0182 applies to
Model A109E, A109S and AW109SP helicopters, all manufacturer serial
numbers, this AD applies to helicopters with an affected assembly
The FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14
CFR part 39 by adding an AD that would apply to Leonardo S.p.a. Model
A109E, A109S, and AW109SP helicopters, certificated in any category,
with an affected assembly as identified in EASA AD 2019-0182. The NPRM
published in the Federal Register on July 30, 2021 (86 FR 40964). The
NPRM was prompted by reports of MLG wheel assembly failure on Model
A109E helicopters. Subsequent investigations identified stress
corrosion and hydrogen embrittlement on the threaded end of the MLG
strut, where lack of cadmium plating was observed, and determined that
a certain batch of ``enhanced'' MLGs may be affected. Due to design
similarity Model A109S and AW109SP helicopters are also affected. The
NPRM proposed to require repetitive inspections of each affected MLG
strut assembly and, depending on the findings, replacement of an
affected MLG strut assembly with a serviceable assembly, or application
of corrosion preventive compound, as specified in EASA AD 2019-0182.
The FAA is issuing this AD to address stress corrosion and hydrogen
embrittlement on the threaded end of the MLG strut in the MLG wheel
assembly. This condition, if not addressed, could lead to cracks on the
affected MLG assembly, resulting in damage or failure of the MLG and
consequent damage to the helicopter and injury to occupants. See EASA
AD 2019-0182 for additional background information.
Discussion of Final Airworthiness Directive
The FAA received a comment from one commenter. The commenter was
Air Methods Corporation. The following presents the comment received on
the NPRM and the FAA's response to that comment.
Request To Allow Part Replacement
Air Methods Corporation requested that paragraph (h)(6) of the
proposed AD be revised to include an option so an operator can replace
a part or assembly that has an inspection finding of ``questionable/
intermediate'' at the operator's discretion, instead of having to
coordinate with the manufacturer. The commenter explained that the
instructions for replacing a part or assembly that has a determinate
inspection finding (for example, a crack) are already in the service
information referenced in EASA AD 2019-0182 and these same instructions
could be used for parts that have a ``questionable/intermediate''
The FAA partially agrees with the commenter's request and will
provide clarification regarding the requirement specified in paragraph
(h)(6) of this AD. The FAA identified an error in paragraph (h)(6) of
the proposed AD that could have caused an operator to misinterpret when
to contact the manufacturer for corrective action if there was an
inspection finding of ``some burr'' from the liquid penetrant
inspection specified in Annex A of the service information referenced
in EASA AD 2019-0182. In the proposed AD, paragraph (h)(6) stated
``Where Annex A of the service information referenced in EASA AD 2019-
0182 specifies to contact the manufacturer if there is any indication
of cracking due to `some burr' . . . .'' This language should not have
included ``of cracking'' because any burr indication finding requires
contacting the manufacturer. The FAA has revised paragraph (h)(6) of
this AD to remove the words ``of cracking.''
The FAA does not agree with the commenter's request to provide an
option for the removal and replacement of a part having an indication
of ``some burr'', or signs of arcing or burning, without contacting the
manufacturer. The FAA contacted EASA, the foreign authority that has
State of Design for these helicopter models, and discussed an option to
permit the replacement of a potentially discrepant component without
contacting the manufacturer. Based upon this discussion the FAA
concluded that the affected part is still under investigation and the
manufacturer needs to gather additional information from operators to
determine the extent of the identified conditions and if additional
corrective actions are needed. The FAA has not changed this AD
regarding this issue.
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, considered the comment received, and determined that air safety
requires adopting this AD as proposed. Except for minor editorial
changes, and any other changes described previously, this AD is adopted
as proposed in the NPRM. None of the changes will increase the economic
burden on any operator. Accordingly, the FAA is issuing this AD to
address the unsafe condition on these helicopters.
Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51
EASA AD 2019-0182 requires repetitive inspections of each affected
MLG assembly and, depending on the findings, replacement of an affected
MLG strut assembly with a serviceable assembly, or application of
corrosion preventive compound. EASA AD 2019-0182 allows the
installation of an affected MLG strut assembly on any helicopter,
provided it is a serviceable assembly, as defined in EASA AD 2019-0182.
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.
Costs of Compliance
The FAA estimates that this AD affects 99 helicopters of U.S.
Registry. The FAA estimates the following costs to comply with this AD:
||Cost per product
||Cost on U.S. operators
|Inspection and application of
corrosion protective compound
||2 work-hours x $85
per hour = $170 per inspection
||$17 per inspection cycle
||$187 per inspection
||$18,513 per inspection
The FAA estimates the following costs
to do any necessary
replacement actions that would be required based on the results of the
inspection. The agency has no way of determining the number of aircraft
that might need this replacement:
||Cost per product
|Replacement of damaged MLG strut
||3 work-hours x $85 per hour =
The FAA has included all known costs
in its cost estimate.
According to the manufacturer, however, some of the costs of this AD
may be covered under warranty, thereby reducing the cost impact on
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 adding the following new airworthiness