Analysis of Wing Main Spar Cracking
Following the crash of a Mirage III-0 aircraft (apparently caused by engine failure), a small crack was detected in a bolt hole in the wing main spar (AU4SG aluminum alloy). Because this area was considered to be critical to aircraft safety and similar cracking was found in other spars in service, the Royal Australian Air Force requested that the crack growth rate during service be determined. The loading history of the aircraft was made available in the form of flight by-flight records of the counts from the vertical accelerometer sensors fitted to the airframe and a series of “overstress” events recorded during the life of the aircraft. The bolt hole was examined by eddy current testing, visual examination, high-powered light microscope, and scanning electron microscope. Simulation tests were also conducted. The use of simulation specimens permitted actual crack growth rate data to be determined for the configuration of interest.