An accidental overspeed condition during wind tunnel testing resulted in the destruction of a propeller rotor The occurrence was initially attributed to malfunction in the collective pitch control system. All fractured parts in the system were inspected. Highly suspect parts, including the pitch control thrust bearing set, head bolts, hub fork, and actuator rod end, were examined in more detail The thrust bearing set (52100 steel) was identified as the probable source of the uncommanded pitch angle change. A complete failure analysis of the bearing indicated that failure was precipitated by excessive heating, causing cage disintegration, plastic flow of the races and balls, and eventual separation of inner and outer races. It was recommended that the bearing set be resized to accommodate the large thrust as and that a thermocouple be added to monitor the condition of the bearing during testing.
Tina L. Panontin, Thrust Bearing Failure Leading to the Destruction of a Propeller Rotor, Handbook of Case Histories in Failure Analysis, Vol 2, Edited By Khlefa A. Esaklul, ASM International, 1993, p 311–319, https://doi.org/10.31399/asm.fach.v02.c9001363
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