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Failure Analysis of a Fractured Control Pressure Tube from an Aircraft Engine

Authors: M. P. Valles-González, A. González Meije, A. Pastor Muro, M. García-Martínez, B. González Caballero


This paper studies a failure case of a fuel pressure supply tube from an aircraft engine. Multiple fracture cases of the fuel pressure control tube from aircraft engines have been reported. The studied set was composed by the mentioned tube, a welded connecting pipe, where the fracture has been produced, and a union nut. The fracture has been produced in one of the most critical zones of the tube, in a region next to the supporting body of the union nut to the connector. The tube material was X6CrNiTi18-10, an austenitic stainless steel. Chemical composition was determined using an X-Ray fluorescence spectrometer (XRF) and combustion equipment. Furthermore, the material was characterized mechanically, by a hardness test, and microstructurally using a stereo microscope and an optical microscope. The results confirmed that the material was within specifications. To determine the macrofractographic features, a visual examination and an observation using a stereo microscope of the tube fracture surface were carried out. The results revealed a tube plastic macrodeformation, surface damaged and signs of a possible corrosion process. Fracture surface was also inspected by scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM), equipped with an energy-dispersive X-ray microanalysis system (EDX), to determine the microfractographic features in order to find out the failure mechanism involved in the fracture. Fatigue striations, which are typical from a progressive fracture by a fatigue mechanism, were observed. The origin of the fracture was placed in defects located on the outer wall of the tube, leading to a final overload fracture.

Keywords: Aircraft Engine, microstructure, fatigue, FE-SEM, fractography, fracture, fuel tube, stainless steel.

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