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FAA, EASA Issue Emergency AD’s for Helicopters

FAA Issues Emergency Airworthiness Directive For Airbus' AS, EC, and MBB Helicopters

Earlier this month, the FAA issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive, AD 2022-10-51 for specific models of the Airbus AS, EC, and MBB series of helicopters.

This AD is in response to a “supplier report of non-conformity during production”, in particular, the ‘Flexball’ flight control cables which, if not addressed, may result in those controls becoming jammed, and subsequently pilot loss of control. Similarly, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued an emergency AD 2022-0077-E on 29 April 2022 to correct that unsafe condition.

On the topic of cost, the FAA estimates the AD affects just over 1750 helicopters registered in the USA and, using an estimated labor rate of $85, they see a replacement time of 8 hours, with parts costing anywhere from $804 to $13,555 (depending on part number), with an eventual estimated cost of approximately $1500 to $14,000 per helicopter, or $438K to $4million for the US registered fleet. Last but not least, there is a half-hour reporting fee which adds about $43 per helo or $77k for the US registered fleet!

The FAA, in its Emergency AD outlined that the required compliance for US operations applies only to those helicopter models that have been FAA type-certificated and included in the Type Certificate Data Sheet (TCDS). The FAA stated that while the EASA AD specifies the part be removed and sent to the supplier, the FAA’s AD requires removing the affected part from service. Subsequently, while EASA permits a single ferry flight to the maintenance facility, the FAA is ok with a special flight permit or continuous authorization flight for a single flight provided there is no noticeable increase in friction in the flight controls. In both cases, passengers are not permitted on these flights.

FMI: https://faa.gov/aircraft/safety/alerts


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