Main Rotor Yoke Cracking
The 4340 steel main rotor yoke of a helicopter failed during a hovering exercise. Visual examination of the yoke revealed no evidence of gross external damage. Visual fracture surface examination, macrofractography, scanning electron micrography, and metallography of a section cut from the yoke in the region of the cracking indicated that the failure was caused by fatigue-crack initiation and growth from severe corrosion damage to a pillow-block bolt hole. Corrosion occurred because of failure of the protection scheme. An upgraded corrosion protection scheme for the bolt holes was recommended, along with nondestructive inspection of the region at intervals determined by fractographic analysis of the fatigue crack growth.