Wear Failure of a Fuel-Pump Drive Shaft Caused by the Presence of Sand, Metallic Particles, and Vibration
Failure of a case hardened steel shaft incorporated fuel pump in a turbine-powered aircraft resulted in damage to the aircraft. The disassembled pump was found to be dry and free of any contamination. Damage was exhibited on the pressure side of each spline tooth in the impeller and the relatively smooth cavities and undercutting of the flank on this side indicated that the damage was caused by an erosion or abrasion mechanism. A relatively smooth worn area was formed at the center of each tooth due to an abrasive action and an undulating outline with undercutting was observed on the damaged side. Particles of sand, paint, or plastic, fibers from the cartridge, brass, and steel were viewed in the brown residue on the filter cartridge under a low power microscope and later confirmed by chemical analysis. Large amount of iron was identified by application of a magnet. It was concluded that the combined effect of vibration and abrasive wear by sand and metal particles removed from the splines damaged the shaft. Case hardened spline teeth surface was recommended to increase resistance to wear and abrasion.