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Abstract

Damage to a passenger aircraft that resulted from a midair explosion and subsequent emergency landing was investigated to determine the cause and location of the explosion. Extensive damage had occurred in the front toilet and cockpit areas and to the undercarriage and underside of the aircraft. Fractographic and surface examination of metal fragments (stainless steel and aluminum alloy) from damaged areas indicated that the accident was caused by an explosion in the front toilet. A reconstruction exercise confirmed this conclusion. Damage to the undercarriage and underside resulted from the emergency landing.

Abstract

Examination of several fighter aircraft main landing gear legs revealed unusual cracking in the hard chromium plating that covered the sliding section of the inner strut. The cracking was associated with cracks in the 35 NCD 16 steel beneath the plating. A detailed investigation revealed that the cracking was caused by the combination of incorrect grinding procedure, the presence of hydrogen, and fatigue. The grinding damage generated tensile stresses in the steel, which caused intergranular cracking during the plating cycle. The intergranular cracks were initiation sites for fatigue crack growth during service. It was recommended that the damaged undercarriage struts be withdrawn from service pending further analysis and development of a repair technique.

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Aircraft, Handbook of Case Histories in Failure Analysis, Vol 2, Edited By Khlefa A. Esaklul, ASM International, 1993

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