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Abstract

The aluminum alloy skin on the main rotor blade of a helicopter tore off in flight, and an investigation was subsequently conducted to find the cause. Visual examination and SEM fractography revealed that a fatigue crack originated on the underside of a rivet hole at the trailing edge of the blade. The crack then propagated through the outer skin toward the leading edge of the blade. Once the fatigue crack reached critical length, the sheet metal fractured catastrophically, tearing away from the blade.

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