FAA Finalizes Rule to Prevent Fatigue on Aging Aircraft

In a continuing effort to address aging aircraft issues, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has finalized a rule designed to protect most of today’s commercial planes and those designed in the future from structural damage as they age.

The new rule seeks to prevent “widespread fatigue damage” (WFD) by requiring aircraft manufacturers and certification applicants to establish a number of flight cycles or hours a plane can operate and be free from WFD without additional inspections for fatigue. Manufacturers have between 18 and 60 months to comply depending on the particular aircraft type.

Once manufacturers establish these limits, operators of affected aircraft must incorporate them into their maintenance programs within 30 to 72 months, depending on the model of aircraft. After the limit is in the maintenance program, operators cannot fly the aircraft beyond that point unless FAA approves an extension of the limit.

“Safety is our highest priority. This rule provides a comprehensive approach to the problem of widespread fatigue in aging aircraft,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Requiring carriers to regularly inspect their aircraft for possible fatigue is essential to ensuring the highest levels of safety.”

“We’ve addressed the problem of aging aircraft with numerous targeted regulations and 100 airworthiness directives over the years,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “This rule is a comprehensive solution to ensure the structural safety of today’s airliners and the airplanes of tomorrow.”

An airplane’s metallic structures are stressed and can develop cracks when they experience repeated loads such as the pressurization and depressurization that happens on every flight. While airlines regularly inspect aircraft for cracks exceeding a certain size, WFD involves aircraft developing numerous tiny cracks, none of which would have raised concerns individually but which together run the risk of joining up and impairing the structural integrity of the plane.

The new regulation applies to airliners with a takeoff weight of 75,000 pounds and heavier. It also applies to all transport designs certificated in the future.

The affected models, totaling 4,198 U.S.-registered airplanes, are listed in the rule.

FAA is working closely with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and other national authorities to harmonize this rule with their regulations as much as possible. EASA is now developing rulemaking to address WFD, and the FAA participates in that process.

The final rule is on display at the Federal Register: http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2010-28363_PI.pdf. The published version is available at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Easy to Use Safety Incident App

    Record incidents on the go with IndustrySafe’s mobile app. Collect data for multiple types of incidents including including near misses, vehicle and environmental incidents, and employee and non-employee injuries; at job sites and remote locations—with or without web access.

  • Complete Online Safety Training Courses

    Deliver state-of-the art, online safety training courses to your organization with IndustrySafe Training Management Software. Generate reports to track training compliance and automatically notify learners of upcoming or overdue classes.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Track Key Safety Performance Indicators

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations to easily track safety KPIs and metrics. Gain increased visibility into your business’ operations and safety data.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus