DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Aviation Administration
14 CFR Part 39
[Docket No. FAA-2024-0034; Project Identifier AD-2023-01154-Q;
Amendment 39-22662; AD 2024-01-11]
Airworthiness Directives; Various Helicopters
AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.
ACTION: Final rule; request for comments.
SUMMARY: The FAA is adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD)
helicopters with certain Pacific Scientific Company rotary buckle
assemblies (buckles) installed. This AD was prompted by a report of a
manufacturing defect in the screws used inside the buckle. This AD
requires inspecting the buckle screws and, depending on the results,
reidentifying the buckle, replacing the screws and reidentifying the
buckle, or replacing the buckle. This AD also prohibits installing
certain buckles. The FAA is issuing this AD to address the unsafe
condition on these products.
DATES: This AD is effective February 15, 2024.
The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by
reference of certain publications listed in this AD as of February 15,
The FAA must receive comments on this AD by March 18, 2024.
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.
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-2024-0034; 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, any comments received, and other
information. The street address for Docket Operations is listed above.
Material Incorporated by Reference:
For service information identified in this final rule,
contact Parker Meggitt Services, 1785 Voyager Avenue, Simi Valley, CA
93063; phone: 877-666-0712; email: TechnicalSupport@meggitt.com;
You may view this service information at the FAA, Office
of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 10101 Hillwood Parkway, 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-2024-0034.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Kim, Aviation Safety Engineer,
FAA, 3960 Paramount Boulevard, Lakewood, CA 90712; phone: (562) 627-
5274; 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-2024-0034; Project Identifier AD-
2023-01154-Q'' 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 David
Kim, Aviation Safety Engineer, FAA, 3960 Paramount Boulevard, Lakewood,
CA 90712; phone: (562) 627-5274; 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 has received a report of a manufacturing defect in the
screws used inside Pacific Scientific Company buckle part number (P/N)
1111475 (all dash numbers) and P/N 1111548-01. The screws used to
fasten the load plate to the body of the buckle were found to be
susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement due to improper baking
during the electroplating process. This condition leads the screwhead
to separate from the body of the screw when under load, which could
result in the buckle failing to restrain the occupant to the seat. This
issue was originally identified from a suspected lot of screws, Lot
348994-A. Since then, a buckle failed in an accident, calling into
question Lot 348601-A. Lots 348601-A and 348994-A were the first two
lots of screws received by Pacific Scientific Company from a new
supplier and are the only suspected lots. The suspected buckles were
manufactured between January 2012 and September 2012. The FAA is
issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.
The rotary buckle may be included as a component of a different
part-numbered restraint system assembly. Table 1 of Parker Meggitt
Service Bulletin (SB) 1111475-25-001-2023, Revision 001, dated December
1, 2023, and Parker Meggitt SB 1111548-25-001-2023, Revision 001, dated
December 1, 2023 (SB 1111475-25-001-2023 Rev 001 and SB 1111548-25-001-
2023 Rev 001), includes a list of these restraint system assembly P/Ns.
This AD applies to all helicopters with a Pacific Scientific
Company buckle P/N 1111475 (all dash numbers) or P/N 1111548-01
installed, if the buckle was manufactured between January 2012 and
September 2012, or if the date of manufacture of the buckle is unknown.
These same part-numbered buckles may also be installed in airplanes;
however, the FAA determined that a longer compliance time to accomplish
the required actions is allowable for buckles installed in airplanes.
Accordingly, the FAA plans to publish a separate notice of proposed
rulemaking to address all airplanes with a Pacific Scientific Company
buckle P/N 1111475 (all dash numbers) or P/N 1111548-01 installed.
The FAA is issuing this AD because the agency has determined the
unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop on
other helicopters with a restraint system with a buckle as part of
their type design.
Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51
The FAA reviewed SB 1111475-25-001-2023 Rev 001 for buckle P/N
1111475 and SB 1111548-25-001-2023 Rev 001 for buckle P/N 1111548-01.
This service information specifies procedures for inspecting the buckle
for any missing or loose screw heads and, depending on the results,
replacing the buckle and sending the removed buckle to Parker Meggitt
for repair or replacement. If after that first inspection, all of the
screw heads are intact, this service information specifies procedures
for inspecting the buckle for any Torx head screws (alloy steel) and,
depending on the results, allowing the buckle assembly to remain in-
service temporarily, replacing any Torx head screws (alloy steel) with
new hex head screws (stainless steel), and checking the functionality
of the buckle. This service information also specifies procedures for
removing a buckle from a restraint system, installing a buckle on a
restraint system, and returning buckles to Parker Meggitt. If the
buckle passes the specified inspections or is modified by replacing
Torx head screws (alloy steel) with new hex head screws (stainless
steel) screws, this service information specifies procedures for
reidentifying the back of the buckle. This service information also
identifies known affected restraint systems.
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 ADDRESSES.
This AD requires accomplishing the actions specified in the service
information already described, except as discussed under ``Differences
Between this AD and the Service Information.''
Differences Between This AD and the Service Information
The service information does not specify any compliance times,
whereas this AD requires accomplishing the required actions within
three months. This AD also prohibits installing an affected buckle on
any helicopter as of the effective date of this AD.
The service information specifies sending any damaged buckles to
Parker Meggitt for repair or replacement, and this AD does not.
Instead, this AD requires replacing the buckle with an airworthy
The service information allows buckles with a Torx head (alloy
steel) screw to remain in service temporarily and be replaced at a time
convenient to the operator, and this AD does not. If a buckle has any
number of Torx head (alloy steel) screws installed, this AD requires
replacing all four screws with hex head screws before further flight.
If a screw head breaks off during disassembly of a buckle or if
reassembly of a buckle is not possible, the service information
specifies returning the buckle to Parker Meggitt, whereas this AD does
not. If a screw head breaks off during disassembly, this AD requires
replacing the buckle with an airworthy buckle. If reassembly of a
buckle is not possible, then the buckle is not airworthy.
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 requires the immediate adoption of
this AD without providing an opportunity for public comments prior to
adoption. The FAA has found that the risk to the flying public
justifies forgoing notice and comment prior to adoption of this rule
because in an otherwise survivable accident, hard landing, or severe
turbulence, the buckle may fail to restrain the occupant. Based on the
rotorcraft accident rate, coupled with not knowing the propagation rate
of this unsafe condition into failure, the FAA determined that the
compliance time to inspect affected buckles installed in helicopters
must be within three months. Accordingly, 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 forgo 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 approximately 11,714 buckles
installed on restraint systems in aircraft worldwide. The FAA has no
way of knowing the number of helicopters of
U.S. Registry that may have a restraint system with an affected buckle
installed. The estimated costs on U.S. operators reflects the maximum
possible costs based on affected buckles installed on restraint systems
in aircraft worldwide. 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.
Inspecting a buckle will take approximately 0.1 work-hour for an
estimated cost of $9 per buckle and up to $105,426 for the U.S. fleet.
If required, replacing a set of screws (four) will take approximately
0.5 work-hour and parts will cost a nominal amount for an estimated
cost of $43 per buckle. Replacing a buckle will take approximately 0.5
work-hour and parts will cost approximately $740 for an estimated cost
of $783 per buckle. The FAA estimates a nominal cost for reidentifying
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, thereby reducing the cost impact on affected operators.
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