Long Awaited R44 and R22 Main Rotor Blade AD
DECEMBER 5, 2014- The Federal Aviation Administration today issued Airworthiness Directive 2014-23-16 effecting Model R22, R22 Alpha, R22 Beta, and R22 Mariner helicopters with main rotor blade (blade), part number (P/N) A016-2 or A016-4; and Model R44 Astro, Raven I and R44 II helicopters with blade, P/N C016-2 or C-016-5. According the the FAA, this AD was created establish further corrective action relating to unsafe main rotor blade skin debonding, potentially resulting in main rotor failure and loss of control of the helicopter. This AD supersedes AD 2011-12-10, which called for a visual inspection of the main rotor blade and “tap testing” at prescribed intervals to detect potential skin separation. Final release AD 2014-23-16 comes after an extended rule making and public comment period with the Notice of Proposed Rule Making first issued in February 2013.
The new AD 2014-23-16 which is to become effective January 9th, 2015 stipulates continued prescribed inspection procedures, but includes a terminating action requiring replacement of effected main rotor blades within a 5 year period from the effective date of the Airworthiness Directive- no later than January 9th, 2020. Anticipating the negative financial impact of this AD on potential operators, on September 10, Robinson Helicopter Company issued Service Letter 63 for R22 helicopters and Service Letter 49 for R44 Helicopters. Together, these service letters provide for a fifty percent discount for qualifying blades to be replaced with newer A016-6 or c006-7 blades and thereby become subject to terminating action under this AD.