You don’t see too many investigations by the NTSB into incidences involving aircraft that failed in the process of performing maintenance. But the recent investigation into the American Airlines 767 engine failure that happened during a maintenance run-up certainly justifies an investigation (see the photo slide show section of AMTonline.com). You have to ask yourself, if this turbine wheel came apart (which went clear through the fuselage and into an engine on the other side of the aircraft — by the way), what is the likelihood that other similar models could come apart with passengers on board or in flight? Was it a design defect? Was it a result of specific maintenance recently performed? The investigation and the results are a story for another day, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about what happened and why.
But that’s not the reason I am commenting on this. What I would like to comment on is how vigilant we need to be as aircraft mechanics when we are doing engine run-ups! Fortunately, no one was hurt in this instance, but I can recall seeing many mechanics (including yours truly) standing near the side of an engine many times during maintenance run-ups. What has always fascinated me is that we hide behind bullet-proof glass in an engine test cell — yet seem to lose fear of the engine as soon as it is on the aircraft. I know it doesn’t happen often, but it should remind us to stand clear of rotating components, including props and turbine engines, during a maintenance run. It’s only one of the many hazards that surround an operating engine. Be vigilant!
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Want more? AMTSociety and AMT magazine have now partnered with Aerospace Testing Expo 2006 North America in Anaheim, CA, Nov. 14, 15, and 16. AMTSociety members will be allowed free entry!
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