Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Compliance Times Aligned
The operational rules for fuel tank safety remain firm, declared the FAA in a Federal Register announcement of July 7 (FR Doc E6-10596).
Operators are supposed to incorporate fuel tank maintenance and inspection instructions for transport category airplanes, and the instructions for continued airworthiness (ICA) originally were supposed to be aligned with those for electrical wiring interconnection systems (EWIS). However, given the time it is taking to consider all the comments received on fuel tank safety (for which the deadline was only February 3, 2006), the FAA believes "public safety would not be served by extending implementation of the fuel tank operational safety rules beyond the December 16, 2008 date."
The FAA notes that design approval holders have had enough time to develop the ICA and make them available to operators. "Industry should proceed with the necessary plans to meet this date," the FAA says.
Recall that under Special Federal Aviation Regulation 88 (SFAR 88) more than 80 airworthiness directives were issued to improve the design of fuel systems. This action deals with continuing maintenance.
Fuel System Safety Reviews
Inspections for discrepancies of electrical bundles, and corrective action as necessary, are needed for all Airbus A300, A300-600 and A310 airplanes, intones an FAA notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) posted June 30 in the Federal Register (FR Doc 06-5872). The NPRM is a product of the fuel system safety reviews conducted under SFAR 88.
The FAA said the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) advised of the potential for discrepancies, "including but not limited to chafing, of all electrical bundles in the leading and trailing edges of the wings of these airplanes."
"This condition, if not corrected, could result in an ignition source, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in a fuel tank explosion and consequent loss of the airplane," the FAA cautioned.
The action affects some 277 airplanes in U.S. registry, and the inspections are estimated to cost $800 per airplane.
It should be noted that Airbus has stated that inerting is not necessary on the A380, because conditions like this have been precluded through design.
Inspect Wing Attachments
"If the wing attach barrel nuts and bolts are not free of deformation and irregularities in the threads, or do not meet the minimum breakaway torque requirement, install new parts to the correct torque value," is part of the detailed instructions for the Mitsubishi MU-2 airplane contained in a final rule published June 29 by the FAA in the Federal Register (FR Doc 06-5653).
The action stems from a recent safety evaluation, and failure to correct cracked, corroded, fractured or over-torqued nuts could lead to separation of the outer wing from the center wing, the FAA cautions.
The action affects 399 MU-2s in U.S. registry. The FAA estimates that the cost of the inspections, and replacement of the eight barrel nuts on each airplane, will cost $1,440 per airplane. The airworthiness directive is effective August 11, and detailed guidance is contained in various Mitsubishi service bulletins.
To prevent chafing of power feeder cables against structure and fuel lines in the engine pylons, MD-11 operators are enjoined to inspect and correct chafing, which could include installation of new clamps for the power feeder cables, the FAA announced June 21 in the Federal Register (FR Doc E6-9718).
The latest airworthiness directive (AD) supersedes one dating back to 2004. The FAA explains the rationale for this latest action: "The manufacturer has notified us that certain airplanes with 4/0 size cables installed have clamps too small to install over the 4/0 size cables. Larger clamps are needed to prevent chafing."
There are about 195 MD-11 and MD-11F airplanes in worldwide service affected by the AD, of which 98 airplanes are in U.S. registry. The cost to inspect and fix the problem is estimated at $400 per airplane, which includes parts provided by the vendor at no charge installed in the airplane.
Of interest, a B747 experienced arcing damage between a power feeder cable and fuel line a couple years ago, and the operators' engineers designed a metal barrier between the power feeder cable and the fuel and hydraulic lines located in close proximity in the engine pylon. However, the metal barrier was never installed.
French regulatory authorities report the following on the Airbus A310-300 fuel system: "It was not possible to transfer fuel from auxiliary center tanks (ACTs) 1 and 2 during flight, and no electronic centralized aircraft monitor warnings were triggered."
"Investigation revealed a faulty static inverter and blown fuse, resulting in failure ... of the automatic ACT fuel transfer," the French report continued. "In addition, there are known problems with certain non-return valves (NRVs) used throughout the fuel system, which could result in intermittent failure of the NRV to close. If the NRV is open during flight, the fuel supply to the engines may be reduced during cross-feed operation to the extent that fuel starvation could occur and result in engine flameout."
That's it in a nutshell. The FAA proposed an AD on June 20 in the Federal Register to correct the problem (FR Doc E6-9631). Only 11 airplanes in U.S. registry are affected, at a cost of about $450 per airplane. What is significant, it seems to us, is that these problems were not uncovered in the SFAR 88-related fuel system safety review.
AAR's Gear Innovation
AAR has successfully completed its first overhaul of a B717 landing gear ship set for Hawaiian Airlines. To minimize downtime, AAR developed a new procedure with the gear manufacturer. Components that could be reused were identified early, and AAR obtained authorization to manufacture axle sleeves, among other innovations.
Boeing, FedEx, and RFID
Boeing and FedEx have jointly initiated an in-service evaluation of active radio frequency identification tags on some major airplane parts for a FedEx MD-10 freighter. The active tags, created by Identec Solutions, are battery powered and contain a microchip and transmitter that operate at 915 MHz. The read-range of these tags is 300 feet compared to the 10-foot read range of passive tags. They provide the ability to inventory an aircraft without opening the access panel doors.
AQS and Arger Separate
Aero Quality Sales (AQS) is now a totally independent, stand alone business having separated from Arger Enterprises. Mike Wilson is the new president of AQS.
Avemco Donates Aircraft
Students across America are gaining hands-on experience in the basics of airplane mechanics, avionics, and the physics of flight thanks in part to Avemco Insurance Company. Build a Plane, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation founded in 2003, promotes aviation education. Aircraft given to the schools have been deemed non-airworthy. Avemco recently donated 12 aircraft with saltwater damage from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. The planes will never fly again but are in exceptional condition for study. www.buildaplane.org, www.avemco.com
Avantair Chooses JSSI's Tip-to-Tail
Jet Support Services, Inc. (JSSI) recently announced that Avantair has chosen their Tip-to-Tail airframe maintenance cost guarantee program to cover their Avanti P.180 aircraft fleet. JSSI developed the comprehensive Tip-to-Tail airframe hourly cost maintenance program as a complement to its established engine programs. www.askjssi.com
Rolls-Royce and UPS Agreement
Rolls-Royce has signed a 15-year engine service agreement with United Parcel Service (UPS). The contract supports the engines for UPS's 40 RB211-535 powered Boeing 757 aircraft and covers work which would not be performed by UPS's own maintenance program. This agreement is a Rolls-Royce TotalCare contract.