Failure of a Throttle-Arm Assembly Because of Thread-Root Cracks in the HAZ
A throttle arm of an aircraft engine fractured and caused loss of engine control. The broken part consisted of a 6.4-mm (1/4-in.) diam medium-carbon steel rod with a thread to fit a knurled brass nut that was inserted into the throttle knob. The threaded rod had been welded to the throttle-linkage bar by an assembly-weld deposit made on the rod adjacent to the threaded portion. The fracture surface exhibited a coarse-grain brittle texture with an initiating crack at a thread root. The throttle-arm failed by brittle fracture because of the presence of cracks at the thread roots that were within the HAZ of the adjacent weld deposit. The heat of welding had generated a coarse-grain structure with a weak grain-boundary network of ferrite that had not been corrected by postweld heat treatment. The combination of the cracks and this unfavorable microstructure provided a weakened condition that resulted in catastrophic, brittle fracture under normal applied loads. The design was altered to eliminate the weld adjacent to the threaded portion of the rod.