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Crack caused plane crash

An investigation into a fatal crash involving a firefighting aircraft has determined unapproved inspection methods failed to detect fatigue cracks that led to the plane’s wing separating.
Nanjing Night Net

On October 24,2013, the pilot of a modified PZL Mielec M18A Dromader aircraftwas conducting a firebombing mission about 37km west of Ulladulla. On approach to the target point, the left wing separated. The aircraft immediately rolled left and crashed. The aircraft was destroyed and the pilot was fatally injured.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau found the left wing separated because it had been weakened by a fatigue crack in the left wing lower attachment fitting. The fatigue crack originated at small corrosion pits in the attachment fitting. These pits formed stress concentrations that accelerated the initiation of fatigue cracks.

The ATSB also found that, although required to be removed by the aircraft manufacturer’s instructions, the corrosion pits were not completely removed during previous maintenance. During that maintenance, the wing fittings were inspected using an eddy current inspection method. This inspection method was not approved for that particular inspection and may not have been effective at detecting the crack.

Data from a series of previous flights indicated that the manner in which the aircraft was flown during its life probably accelerated the initiation and growth of the fatigue crack.

ATSB reportThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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