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A 4340 steel piston engine crankshaft in a transport aircraft failed catastrophically during flight. The fracture occurred in the pin radius zone. Fractographic studies established the mode of failure as fatigue under a complex combination of bending and torsional stresses. SEM examination revealed that the fracture origin was a subsurface defect-a hard refractory (Al2O3) inclusion—in the zone close to the pin radius. Chemical analysis showed the crankshaft material to be of inferior quality. It was recommended that magnetic particle inspection using the dc method be used to cheek for cracks during periodic maintenance overhauls.

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