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Airbus A380 engine failure caused by lack of scientific knowledge
Air France’s Airbus A380 uncontained engine failure during the flight AF066 in September 2017 resulted from the lack of scientific understanding about the alloy used for the engine parts, the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) said in a full report on September 25, 2020.
Air France Airbus A380 engine explosion
On September 30, 2017, the Airbus A380 (registered F-HPJE) flight AF066 was en route from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The aircraft was carrying 497 passengers and 24 crew members when its engine No. 4 failed with an explosion five hours into the flight over southern Greenland.
A visual examination found that the first rotating fan assembly at the front of an engine and the air inlet and fan case had separated mid-flight and caused minor structural damage to the aircraft. The A380 landed two hours later at the Canadian Forces Base Goose Bay (YYR) without any injuries or further events.READ MORE: Engine part of Air France A380 found under Greenland ice
The wasteland search for the Airbus A380 engine parts
After the incident, the BEA conducted a three-phase search operation to gather the scattered engine parts. It took several visual scanning and aerial radar campaigns to detect the parts using synthetic aperture radars (SAR) and ground-penetrating radars (GPR) before finally retrieving the pieces.
Overall, it took the researchers 21 months to collect the missing parts before conducting the final analysis.READ MORE: BEA details AF66 A380 engine part search in Greenland
The A380 engine flaw science was not aware of
The GP7200 engine was built by Engine Alliance, a consortium of General Electric and Pratt & Whitney, using titanium alloy Ti-6-4.
The analysis released by the French authority on September 25, 2020, clearly emphasized that the incident was no fault of the engine manufacturer or Airbus. At the time, the scientific community was not aware of Ti-6-4 titanium alloy’s susceptibility to cold dwell fatigue.
Metal alloys that are used for aircraft engines are often expected to operate at over 300˚C (572˚F), according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). However, if the motor performs at a lower temperature than that, it becomes susceptible to ‘cold’ dwell fatigue, significantly reducing the expected engine cycles to failure. In the case of Air France A380, the engine failed after 3,544 flight cycles when the estimated minimum life of the titanium part was 15,000 cycles.
Scientists have known about the cold dwell fatigue phenomenon in other titanium alloys like IMI 685 or Ti-6242 for about 40 years. Nevertheless, the “Ti-6-4 was not considered sensitive to cold dwell fatigue (…) up until the failure of the (GP7270) engine No 4 fan hub,” the BEA report said.
The analysis concluded that both the European Union Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) should ensure that the design, sizing, and manufacturing criteria for Ti-6-4 alloy engine parts are revised. BEA also recommended both authorities to adopt a new in-service inspection program to detect possible indications of cold dwell fatigue in the same alloy engines.AirbusA380EASAFAAAir FranceincidentBEA
WRITTEN BY:PIJUS JAUNISKISFOLLOWThis great AeroTime author has not written anything about himself yet.ResponsesJP2020-10-02 18:31The A380 has been the safest aircraft ever, considering facts not opinions. However, the economy pushes the industry beyond its limits, and the latter do the same with science, and that can play a dangerous role in engine matters.CAPTNJOHN2020-09-30 17:49Nobody got hurt, science advanced, where is the problem?OLD-STRESS-GUY2020-09-25 20:47No, there is no perfectly safe aircraft – someone said the Piper Cub can only just barely kill you. By the way, science is never settled, especially with the exotic materials needed to make access to aviation as affordable as it is.We get things up to a 99% accuracy with a 99% confidence, and go with the high probability that things won’t break when subject to a load 1.5 times greater than anything we can imagine. You can only design against so much. To make an airplane perfectly safe requires making it so heavy and costly it never leaves the ground.The A380 was a magnificent accomplishment; like the Concorde its demise is due to business issues that were difficult to foresee during the design Not incompetent, rather unlucky.BOEINGLOVER692020-09-25 17:07Incompetence.SCAREBUS2020-09-25 17:05I’m glad that fat cow will soon be out of the skies foreverSee more discussionRespondhttps://eaa809db29fdcc7554e6bb5937785162.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlRelated StoriesCIVIL AVIATIONUnited expects 1st month of positive income, amidst massive 270 aircraft order
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