Airworthiness Directives; Boeing Model 757-200, 757-200PF, and 757-300 Series Airplanes

Summary:

We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Boeing Model 757-200, 757-200PF, and 757-300 series airplanes. This proposed AD would require, for certain airplanes, measuring the electrical bond resistance at certain stations and doing any applicable repair; installing support brackets for the hot short protector and new support clamps for the wire bundles; installing the equipment of the hot short protector; and modifying an existing wire bundle and installing a new wire bundle. This proposed AD would also require, for certain other airplanes, measuring the electrical bond resistance at certain stations, measuring the electrical bonding resistance between the hot short protector and rear spar web, and doing any applicable repair. This proposed AD also would require revising the Airworthiness Limitations section of the Instructions for Continued Airworthiness. This proposed AD results from fuel system reviews conducted by the manufacturer. We are proposing this AD to prevent the center fuel tank densitometer from overheating and becoming a potential ignition source inside the fuel tank, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in a center fuel tank explosion and consequent loss of the airplane.

Table of Contents

Table of Figures

Addresses:

You may send comments by any of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.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: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

For service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, P.O. Box 3707, Seattle, Washington 98124-2207.

Examining the AD Docket

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Office (telephone 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

For further information contact:

Jen Pei, Aerospace Engineer, Systems and Equipment Branch, ANM-130S, FAA, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone (425) 917-6409; fax (425) 917-6590.

Supplementary information:

Comments Invited

We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposed AD. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2008-0846; Directorate Identifier 2008-NM-045-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD because of those comments.

We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact we receive about this proposed AD.

Discussion

The FAA has examined the underlying safety issues involved in fuel tank explosions on several large transport airplanes, including the adequacy of existing regulations, the service history of airplanes subject to those regulations, and existing maintenance practices for fuel tank systems. As a result of those findings, we issued a regulation titled “Transport Airplane Fuel Tank System Design Review, Flammability Reduction and Maintenance and Inspection Requirements” (66 FR 23086, May 7, 2001). In addition to new airworthiness standards for transport airplanes and new maintenance requirements, this rule included Special Federal Aviation Regulation No. 88 (“SFAR 88,” Amendment 21-78, and subsequent Amendments 21-82 and 21-83).

Among other actions, SFAR 88 requires certain type design (i.e., type certificate (TC) and supplemental type certificate (STC)) holders to substantiate that their fuel tank systems can prevent ignition sources in the fuel tanks. This requirement applies to type design holders for large turbine-powered transport airplanes and for subsequent modifications to those airplanes. It requires them to perform design reviews and to develop design changes and maintenance procedures if their designs do not meet the new fuel tank safety standards. As explained in the preamble to the rule, we intended to adopt airworthiness directives to mandate any changes found necessary to address unsafe conditions identified as a result of these reviews.

In evaluating these design reviews, we have established four criteria intended to define the unsafe conditions associated with fuel tank systems that require corrective actions. The percentage of operating time during which fuel tanks are exposed to flammable conditions is one of these criteria. The other three criteria address the failure types under evaluation: single failures, single failures in combination with a latent condition(s), and in-service failure experience. For all four criteria, the evaluations included consideration of previous actions taken that may mitigate the need for further action.

We have determined that the actions identified in this AD are necessary to reduce the potential of ignition sources inside fuel tanks, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in fuel tank explosions and consequent loss of the airplane.

Boeing has found that no separation was provided for the fuel quantity indication system (FQIS) wires. A potential hot short of the FQIS lead wire could cause the densitometer in the center fuel tank to overheat. In situations where the fuel level in the center fuel tank is low, the overheated densitometer could ignite flammable fuel vapors inside the center fuel tank. This condition, if not corrected, could result in a center fuel tank explosion and consequent loss of the airplane.

Other Related Rulemaking

On April 29, 2008, we issued AD 2008-10-11, amendment 39-15517 (73 FR 25974, May 8, 2008), applicable to all Boeing Model 757 airplanes. That AD requires revising the Airworthiness Limitations (AWLs) section of the Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA) by incorporating new limitations for fuel tank systems to satisfy SFAR 88 requirements. That AD also requires the initial inspection of certain repetitive AWL inspections to phase in those inspections, and repair if necessary. That AD resulted from a design review of the fuel tank systems. We issued that AD to prevent the potential for ignition sources inside fuel tanks caused by latent failures, alterations, repairs, or maintenance actions, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in a fuel tank explosion and consequent loss of the airplane. Incorporating AWL No. 28-AWL-22 into the AWLs section of the ICA in accordance with paragraph (g)(3) of AD 2008-10-11 would terminate the action in paragraph (h) of this proposed AD.

Relevant Service Information

We have reviewed Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 757-28A0085, Revision 2, dated December 11, 2007. The service bulletin describes the following procedures:

• For certain airplanes: Measuring the electrical bonding resistance between the stiffeners located at inboard rear spar station (IRSS) 164.9 and IRSS 179.2 and the rear spar web, and doing any applicable repair; installing the support brackets of the hot short protector (HSP) and the new support clamps of the wire bundles; installing the equipment of the HSP; and modifying the existing wire bundle and installing a new wire bundle (includes re-routing).

• For certain other airplanes: Measuring the electrical bonding resistance between the stiffeners located at IRSS 164.9 and IRSS 179.2 and the rear spar web, measuring the electrical bonding resistance between the HSP and the rear spar web, and doing any applicable repair.

We have also reviewed section 9, Revision November 2007, of the Boeing 757 Maintenance Planning Data (MPD) Document, D622N001-9 (hereafter referred to as “the MPD”). Subsection G “AIRWORTHINESS LIMITATIONS—FUEL SYSTEM AWLs” of the MPD describes AWLs for fuel tank systems and includes AWL No. 28-AWL-22, which is the critical design configuration control limitation to maintain the design features of the center fuel tank's HSP during its replacement.

FAA's Determination and Requirements of This Proposed AD

We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all relevant information and determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of the(se) same type design(s). This proposed AD would require accomplishing the actions specified in the service information described previously.

Costs of Compliance

We estimate that this proposed AD would affect 433 airplanes of U.S. registry. The following table provides the estimated costs for U.S. operators to comply with this proposed AD.

Estimated Costs
ActionWork hoursAverage labor rate per hourParts 1 Cost per product 1 Number of U.S.-registered airplanesFleet cost 1
1Depending on airplane configuration.
Groups 1-3; measurement, installations, and modification 8 $80 Between $14,110 and $14,215 Between $14,750 and $14,855 433 Between $6,386,750 and $6,432,215.
Group 4; measurements 2 80 None $160 433 $69,280.
AWL Revision 1 80 None $80 433 $34,640.

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.

We are 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.

Regulatory Findings

We 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 regulation:

1. Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866,

2. Is not a “significant rule” under the DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979), 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.

You can find our regulatory evaluation and the estimated costs of compliance in the AD Docket.

List of subjects in 14 cfr part 39

Air transportation, Aircraft, Aviation safety, Safety.

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.

§ 39.13

2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new AD:

Boeing: Docket No. FAA-2008-0846; Directorate Identifier 2008-NM-045-AD.

Comments Due Date

(a) We must receive comments by September 22, 2008.

Affected ADs

(b) None.

Applicability

(c) This AD applies to Boeing Model 757-200, 757-200PF, and 757-300 series airplanes, certificated in any category; as identified in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 757-28A0085, Revision 2, dated December 11, 2007.

This AD requires revisions to certain operator maintenance documents to include new inspections. Compliance with these inspections is required by 14 CFR 91.403(c). For airplanes that have been previously modified, altered, or repaired in the areas addressed by these inspections, the operator may not be able to accomplish the inspections described in the revisions. In this situation, to comply with 14 CFR 91.403(c), the operator must request approval for an alternative method of compliance (AMOC) according to paragraph (l) of this AD. The request should include a description of changes to the required inspections that will ensure the continued operational safety of the airplane.

Unsafe Condition

(d) This AD results from fuel system reviews conducted by the manufacturer. We are issuing this AD to prevent the center fuel tank densitometer from overheating and becoming a potential ignition source inside the fuel tank, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in a center fuel tank explosion and consequent loss of the airplane.

Compliance

(e) Comply with this AD within the compliance times specified, unless already done.

Measurement, Installation, Modifications, Replacement, and Repair

(f) For Groups 1 through 3 airplanes, as identified in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 757-28A0085, Revision 2, dated December 11, 2007: Within 60 months after the effective date of this AD, do the measurement, installations, modifications, replacement, and applicable repair by accomplishing all the applicable actions specified in the Accomplishment Instructions of the service bulletin. Do the applicable repair before further flight.

Measure and Repair

(g) For Group 4 airplanes, as identified in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 757-28A0085, Revision 2, dated December 11, 2007: Within 60 months after the effective date of this AD, do the measurements and applicable repair by accomplishing all the applicable actions specified in the Accomplishment Instructions of the service bulletin. Do the applicable repair before further flight.

Airworthiness Limitations (AWLs) Revision for AWL No. 28-AWL-22

(h) Concurrently with accomplishing the actions required by paragraphs (f) and (g) of this AD, revise the AWLs section of the Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA) by incorporating AWL No. 28-AWL-22 of Subsection G of section 9, Revision November 2007, Boeing 757 Maintenance Planning Data (MPD) Document, D622N001-9.

No Alternative Critical Design Configuration Control Limitations (CDCCLs)

(i) After accomplishing the action specified in paragraph (h) of this AD, no alternative CDCCLs may be used unless the CDCCLs are approved as an AMOC in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (k) of this AD.

Credit for Actions Done According to Previous Issue of the Service Bulletin

(j) Actions done before the effective date of this AD in accordance with Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 757-28A0085, Revision 1, dated April 16, 2007, are acceptable for compliance with the requirements of paragraphs (f) and (g) of this AD.

Terminating Action for AWLs Revision

(k) Incorporating AWL No. 28-AWL-22 into the AWLs section of the ICA in accordance with paragraph (g)(3) of AD 2008-10-11, amendment 39-15517, terminates the action in paragraph (h) of this AD.

Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

(l)(1) The Manager, Seattle ACO, FAA, ATTN: Jen Pei, Aerospace Engineer, Systems and Equipment Branch, ANM-130S, FAA, Seattle ACO, 1601 Lind Avenue, SW., Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone (425) 917-6409; fax (425) 917-6590; has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19.

(2) To request a different method of compliance or a different compliance time for this AD, follow the procedures in 14 CFR 39.19. Before using any approved AMOC on any airplane to which the AMOC applies, notify your appropriate principal inspector (PI) in the FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), or lacking a PI, your local FSDO.

Issued in Renton, Washington, on July 29, 2008. Ali Bahrami,

Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.

References

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