Turbine Engine Components
Cartridge-pneumatic starter systems are used on military aircraft. In the cartridge mode used for alert starts, the starter turbine is driven by hot gases produced through the controlled burning of a solid propellant cartridge within a closed chamber (the breech chamber/cartridge chamber assembly). Premature failures of steel breech chambers have been prevalent enough to cause serious concern. The breech chamber is fabricated from a 4340 Ni-Cr-Mo steel forging heat treated to a hardness in the range HRC 40 to 45. The failures have taken several forms, including fracture and unzipping of the chamber dome, burn-through of the dome, and shearing of bayonet locking lugs. Factors identified as significant in the failures are the pressure developed in the chamber and internal corrosion of the chamber in an environment that can produce stress-corrosion cracking. The interior configuration of the chamber and the stress distribution also have a bearing upon the failure modes. Several failures are reviewed to illustrate the problems.