April 2003

Engineering Case Histories

Case 14: Analyzing a crankshaft failure

Sometimes both metallurgical and mechanical analysis are required

Sofronas, A., Consulting Engineer

One great thing about engineering is that so many interesting problems can be modeled that can apply elsewhere. While this case is an aircraft crankshaft failure, it could have been a bearing seizure in a hydrocarbon processing compressor. The math is the same, but the experience is not quite as personal. A single-engine aircraft experienced a crankshaft failure in flight, at 9,000-feet altitude, at night, in the clouds. This is every pilot's worst nightmare. The propeller stayed attached to the aircraft and was rotating independently, in the first main bearing. The engine was ticking away merrily, with everything shakin

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