Assembly and Installation Errors
The propeller from a small private airplane came off in flight. The head ends of all six attachment bolts remained in the propeller hub when it was found. Two threaded shanks with nuts remained with the engine, while the remaining four shank ends with their nuts were missing. Parts available for examination, in addition to the hub and attachment bolts, were the two propeller blades and the engine crankshaft. The purpose of this examination was to determine the nature and probable cause of failure in the six attachment bolts. Indications of fatigue failure and wear were the major findings in visual and low power microscopic examination. Fracture surfaces indicated failure was initiated in the threads in four bolts and in the shanks in two. The group of four bolts failed primarily due to tensile loads, while the other two bolts failed primarily due to bending loads. It was concluded that failure was due to improper installation torqueing of the bolts.