An aircraft engine in which an in-flight fire had occurred was dismantled and examined. A bracket assembly fabricated from 2024 aluminum, one of several failed components, was of prime interest because of apparent heat damage. Scanning electron microscopy was used to compare laboratory-induced fractures made at room and elevated temperatures with the bracket failure. The service failure exhibited grain separation and loss of delineation of the grain boundaries due to melting. SEM revealed deep voids between grains and tendrils that connected grains, which resulted from surface tension during melting. Microscopic examination of polished, etched section through the fractured surface verified intergranular separation and breakdown of grain facets. The absence of any reduction of thickness on the bracket assembly at the point of fracture, along with evidence of intense heat at this point, indicated that little stress had been applied to the part. Comparisons of the service failure and laboratory-induced failures in conjunction with macroscopic and metallographic observations showed that the bracket assembly failed because an intense, localized flame had melted the material.
B. K. Young, Jr., Solving an Aluminum Bracket Failure, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Failure Modes and Mechanisms, ASM International, 2019, https://doi.org/10.31399/asm.fach.modes.c9001734
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