Aluminum Alloy 7178-T6 Aircraft Deck Plate That Failed in Service by Fatigue Cracking
Two cracks were discovered in a deck plate of an aircraft during overhaul and repair after 659 h of service. The cracks were on opposite sides of the deck plate in the flange joggles. The plate had been formed from 7178-T6 aluminum alloy sheet. Analysis (visual inspection, 0.2x/2x/2.3x electron microscope fractographs, hardness testing, and electrical conductivity testing) supported the conclusions that the failure was caused by fatigue cracks originating on the inside curved surface of the flanges. The cracks had initiated in surface defects caused by either corrosion pitting or forming notches, acting in combination with lateral forces evidenced by the moderate distortion of the fastener holes. Recommendations included eliminating the surface defects by revised cleaning and/or forming procedures. Revised design and installation should also alleviate the lateral forces.