Failure of Aircraft Wing Leading Edge Panel
Cracks were found on the wing leading edge of a test aircraft made from AZ31B magnesium alloy. Crack lengths were approximately 230 mm (9 in.) long on the left side and approximately 130 mm (5 in.) long on the right side. The cracks ran parallel to the leading edge. The 230-mm (9-in.) crack was received for examination. Visual examination of the submitted panel revealed two cracks. One crack ran through six adjacent fastener holes. Sections of the beveled edges of the holes were missing and corrosion was evident. Visual examination of the fastener holes after separation of the crack showed that the fracture faces were corroded. Optical examination of either side of the middle group of fastener holes showed that the area of suspected crack initiation had suffered excessive corrosion. Examination of the holes on the end of the crack showed fracture characteristics typical of fatigue and/or corrosion fatigue. It was concluded that crack propagation of the fracture in the wing panel occurred by a combination of corrosion and high-cycle fatigue in the end fastener holes. It was recommended that future panels be manufactured of 2024 aluminum.