A new United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness directive (AD) for Airbus Helicopter parts has been designed to prevent the failure of parts that could lead to loss of control of helicopters in the air.
In a nutshell, the AD is intended to reduce the “life limits” of specific Airbus Helicopter parts and will require that these are removed from the aircraft once it has reached its life limit.
All six of these helicopters are approved by Germany’s aviation authority, and are approved for operation in the US. However the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued an AD in August 2013 that was aimed to “correct an unsafe condition” for these and another three models, EC635T1, EC635P2+ and EC635T2+.
The new US AD does not apply to the EC635 models because these aren’t type certificated in the USA.
Published in the Federal Register on June 6, 2016, the US directive will become effective from July 11.
Background to the New FAA AD
The FAA first published its intention to amend the regulations in November 2014. The stated intention was to improve the safety of Airbus Helicopters in flight.
Only three people commented on the intention of the FAA to issue the AD. All believed the directive was unnecessary because all operators must in any case use the most current revision of the master servicing manual for Airbus Helicopter maintenance. The FAA disagreed based on information provided by EASA, believing that it was both in the public interest and interest of air safety that steps be taken to ensure that “unsafe conditions” be prevented by mandatory Airbus Helicopter maintenance – more specifically by replacing certain Airbus Helicopter parts when they reach their “life limit.”
According to the FAA there are 267 Airbus Helicopters on the US registry that are affected.
The New AD Regarding Airbus Helicopter Parts
The new AD defines an unsafe condition as “failure of a critical part” that could “result in loss of control of the helicopter.”
Actions required before any further flights are made are listed in the AD. They include updating revised life limits on component history cards or records for specific swashplate parts, including various rings and bolts, and for mixing lever gear unit parts. The original life limit as well as the new reduced life limit is given for each part, together with its part number.
Any of these Airbus Helicopter parts that have reached or exceeded the newly revised life limit have to be removed.
If a helicopter operator is not able to do this immediately, and needs to get the aircraft to a maintenance facility to replace the part, they may apply for a special one-time flight permit.
Airbus Helicopter Parts from Prime Industries
Whether your Airbus Helicopter parts are included in the new FAA AD or not, Prime Industries can help. You can check or current inventory online or contact us directly for assistance.