DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Aviation Administration
14 CFR Part 39
[Docket No. FAA-2023-1813; Project Identifier MCAI-2023-00980-R;
Amendment 39-22540; AD 2023-17-51]
Airworthiness Directives; Bell Textron Canada Limited Helicopters
AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.
ACTION: Final rule; request for comments.
SUMMARY: The FAA is adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD)
Bell Textron Canada Limited Model 407 helicopters. The FAA previously
sent this AD as an emergency AD to all known U.S. owners and operators
of these helicopters. This AD was prompted by a report of a disbonded
area in a tail rotor (T/R) blade. This AD requires determining if an
affected T/R blade is installed, inspecting each of those T/R blades
and, depending on the results, replacing the T/R blade as specified in
a Transport Canada emergency AD, which is incorporated by reference.
This AD also limits the installation of T/R blades to certain T/R
blades. The FAA is issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on
DATES: This AD is effective September 21, 2023. Emergency AD 2023-17-
51, issued on August 18, 2023, which contained the requirements of this
amendment, was effective with actual notice.
The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by
reference of a certain publication identified in this AD as of
September 21, 2023.
The FAA must receive comments on this AD by October 23, 2023.
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 regulations.gov. Follow
the instructions 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.
AD Docket: You may examine the AD docket at regulations.gov under
Docket No. FAA-2023-1813; 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 Transport Canada emergency AD, any
comments received, and other information. The street address for Docket
Operations is listed above.
Material Incorporated by Reference:
For Transport Canada material that is incorporated by
reference in this final rule, contact Transport Canada, Transport
Canada National Aircraft Certification, 159 Cleopatra Drive, Nepean,
Ontario, K1A 0N5, CANADA; phone 888-663-3639; email
internet tc.canada.ca/en/aviation. You may find the Transport Canada
material on the Transport Canada website at tc.canada.ca/en/aviation.
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 at
regulations.gov under Docket No. FAA-2023-1813.
Other Related Service Information: For Bell service information
identified in this final rule, contact Bell Textron Canada Limited,
12,800 Rue de l'Avenir, Mirabel, Quebec J7J 1R4, Canada; phone 1-450-
437-2862 or 1-800-363-8023; fax 1-450-433-0272; email
email@example.com; or at bellflight.com/support/contact-support.
You may also view this service information at the FAA contact
information under Material Incorporated by Reference above.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dan McCully, Aviation Safety Engineer,
FAA, 1600 Stewart Avenue, Suite 410, Westbury, NY 11590; phone (404)
474-5548; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FAA invites you to send any written data, views, or arguments
about this final rule. Send your comments to an address listed under
ADDRESSES. Include ``Docket No. FAA-2023-1813; Project Identifier MCAI-
2023-00980-R'' at the beginning of your comments. The most helpful
comments reference a specific portion of the final rule, 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 final rule 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
regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. The
agency will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal
contact received about this final rule.
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 AD 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 AD, 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 AD. Submissions containing CBI should be sent to Dan
McCully, Aviation Safety Engineer, FAA, 1600 Stewart Avenue, Suite 410,
Westbury, NY 11590; phone (404) 474-5548; email
email@example.com. Any commentary that the FAA receives which is
not specifically designated as CBI will be placed in the public docket
for this rulemaking.
The FAA issued Emergency AD 2023-17-51, dated August 18, 2023 (the
emergency AD), to address an unsafe condition on Bell Textron Canada
Limited Model 407 helicopters. The FAA sent the emergency AD to all
known U.S. owners and operators of these helicopters. The emergency AD
requires determining if certain serial-numbered T/R blade part number
406-016-100-119 is installed, tap inspecting each affected T/R blade
for skin to core voids and, depending on the results, replacing the T/R
blade. The emergency AD also limits the installation of T/R blades to
affected T/R blades that have passed its required inspection and
unaffected T/R blades.
The emergency AD was prompted by Transport Canada Emergency AD CF-
2023-63, dated August 17, 2023 (Transport Canada AD CF-2023-63), issued
by Transport Canada, which is the aviation authority for Canada, to
correct an unsafe condition on certain serial-numbered Bell Textron
Canada Limited Model 407 helicopters. Transport Canada AD CF-2023-63
states that an operator identified an abnormal sound in a T/R blade
while manually rotating it. A subsequent tap inspection revealed a
disbonded area that exceeds allowable limits. According to Transport
Canada, an investigation by Bell Textron Canada Limited identified 43
T/R blades that could have missing adhesive between the upper skin and
core that was caused during the manufacturing process. This condition,
if not addressed, could result in severe vibration, failure of the T/R
blade, and subsequent loss of T/R control. The FAA is issuing this AD
to address the unsafe condition on these products.
You may examine Transport Canada AD CF-2023-63 in the AD docket at
regulations.gov under Docket No. FAA-2023-1813.
Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51
The FAA reviewed Transport Canada AD CF-2023-63, which requires
determining if an affected T/R blade is installed, inspecting each of
those T/R blades and, depending on the results, replacing the T/R
blade. Transport Canada AD CF-2023-63 also limits installation of T/R
blades to serviceable T/R blades, as defined therein.
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 ADDRESSES.
Other Related Service Information
The FAA also reviewed Bell Alert Service Bulletin 407-23-132, dated
August 14, 2023, which identifies affected T/R blade part number 406-
016-100-119 serial numbers and specifies procedures for inspecting
affected T/R blades for skin to core voids. Depending on the results,
this service information specifies procedures for reporting information
to Bell Product Support Engineering, returning specified T/R blades to
Bell for investigation, and replacing a T/R blade.
These products have been approved by the aviation authority of
another country and are approved for operation in the United States.
Pursuant to the FAA's bilateral agreement with this State of Design
Authority, it has notified the FAA of the unsafe condition described in
its emergency AD referenced above. The FAA is issuing this AD after
determining that the unsafe condition described previously is likely to
exist or develop on other products of the same type design.
This AD requires accomplishing the actions specified in Transport
Canada AD CF-2023-63, described previously, as incorporated by
reference, except for any differences identified as exceptions in the
regulatory text of this AD and except as discussed under ``Differences
Between this AD and the Transport Canada Emergency 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, Transport Canada
AD CF-2023-63 is incorporated by reference in this FAA AD. This AD,
therefore, requires compliance with Transport Canada AD CF-2023-63 in
its entirety through that incorporation, except for any differences
identified as exceptions in the regulatory text of this AD. Using
common terms that are the same as the heading of a particular section
in Transport Canada AD CF-2023-63 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
``Corrective Actions'' in Transport Canada AD CF-2023-63.
Differences Between This AD and the Transport Canada Emergency AD
Transport Canada AD CF-2023-63 applies to certain serial-numbered
Bell Textron Canada Limited Model 407 helicopters, whereas this AD
applies to all Bell Textron Canada Limited Model 407 helicopters.
Transport Canada AD CF-2023-63 does not clearly specify how to inspect
affected T/R blades for skin to core voids, whereas this AD requires
tap inspecting each affected T/R blade for skin to core voids.
Justification for Immediate Adoption and Determination of the Effective
Section 553(b)(3)(B) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5
U.S.C. 551 et seq.) authorizes agencies to dispense with notice and
comment procedures for rules when the agency, for ``good cause,'' finds
that those procedures are ``impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to
the public interest.'' Under this section, an agency, upon finding good
cause, may issue a final rule without providing notice and seeking
comment prior to issuance. Further, section 553(d) of the APA
authorizes agencies to make rules effective in less than thirty days,
upon a finding of good cause.
An unsafe condition exists that required the immediate adoption of
Emergency AD 2023-17-51, issued on August 18, 2023, to all known U.S.
owners and operators of these helicopters. The FAA found that the risk
to the flying public justified waiving notice and comment prior to
adoption of this rule because each T/R blade is critical to the control
of a helicopter. Debonding of a T/R blade could lead to instantaneous
failure before detection. Additionally, affected T/R blades are
installed on high usage helicopters, which could increase the
likeliness of occurrence of a failure. In light of this, the initial
action required by this AD must be accomplished within 10 hours time-
in-service or 14 days, whichever occurs first. This compliance time is
shorter than the time necessary for the public to comment and for
publication of the final rule. These conditions still exist, therefore,
notice and opportunity for prior public comment are impracticable and
contrary to the public interest pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B).
In addition, the FAA finds that good cause exists pursuant to 5
U.S.C. 553(d) for making this amendment effective in less than 30 days,
for the same reasons the FAA found good cause to forego notice and
Regulatory Flexibility Act
The requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) do not
apply when an agency finds good cause pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553 to adopt
a rule without prior notice and comment. Because FAA has determined
that it has good cause to adopt this rule without prior notice and
comment, RFA analysis is not required.
Costs of Compliance
The FAA estimates that this AD affects up to 43 helicopters of U.S.
registry. Labor rates are estimated at $85 per work-hour. Based on
these numbers, the FAA estimates the following costs to comply with
Determining if an affected T/R blade is installed takes about 0.5
work-hour for an estimated cost of $43 per helicopter and up to $1,849
for the U.S. fleet. Tap inspecting an affected T/R blade takes about 1
work-hour for an estimated cost of $85 per T/R blade. If required,
replacing a T/R blade takes about 5 work-hours and parts cost about
$42,951 for an estimated cost of $43,376 per T/R blade.
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
Order 12866, and
(2) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska.
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