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Did Wings Ever Fail On An Airliner?  
User currently onlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3613 posts, RR: 29
Posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 2 days ago) and read 7404 times:

Fortunately, wings are one of the most expensive, best built, best engineered parts existing on airliners...

But I always find it very interesting that wings have to carry many tons of weight all over sudden after liftoff (before it is the gear), cope with turbulences, high and low temperatures, speeds between 0 and 1000 km/h, yet they (FORTUNATELY!) never fail...

So I have 2 questions: First, did wings ever fail (break) in flight? Needless to say, that would be catastrophic.

Second: Are wings changed, or does a DC-9 from NW (sorry, don't have a better example, don't flame me) still have the same wing as in 1968? How are wings maintained?

34 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineGrandTheftAero From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 254 posts, RR: 5
Reply 1, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 2 days ago) and read 7393 times:

Quoting TheSonntag (Thread starter):
Fortunately, wings are one of the most expensive, best built, best engineered parts existing on airliners...

The engine guys would have something to say about that. The little wings inside of a jet engine glow cherry red from the intense heat of combustion and have the equivalent load of a school bus being hung from their tips due to the high rate of rotation. The materials that make them up are a combination of exotic power-metal alloys and ceramic coatings. They operate at a temperature that would turn even the strongest of super-alloys into putty if it weren't for a complex network of cooling passages. But airplanes wings are cool too  Wink

Sorry... I digress... Anyone have a real answer for TheSonntag?


User currently offlineDougloid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 7385 times:

There's a nice video floating around of a C119 wing failure during a borate bomber run in California.

How about the recent Chalks' fiasco?


User currently onlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3613 posts, RR: 29
Reply 3, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 7371 times:

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 2):

You are right, I forgot about that terrible accident...


User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 29802 posts, RR: 58
Reply 4, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 7337 times:

Quoting TheSonntag (Thread starter):
First, did wings ever fail (break) in flight?

In the early 1970s Wien Air Alaska had a Fokker-27 break-up in mid-air over Illiamna due to a wing failure.

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 2):
There's a nice video floating around of a C119 wing failure during a borate bomber run in California.

I think you are thinking of that C-130 a couple years ago. They haven't used 119's or Borate for forest fires in years. But the 119 was retired because of wing issues.



OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
User currently offlineAR1300 From Argentina, joined Feb 2005, 1740 posts, RR: 3
Reply 5, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 7285 times:

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 2):
How about the recent Chalks' fiasco?

IRCC, that was due to the engine ripping, thus debris and the sudden drag ripped it off.
I thing he meant wings ripping during regular flight regime, due to, let's call it fatigue.I think.

Mike



They don't call us Continental for nothing.
User currently offlineBri2k1 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 988 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 7282 times:

I don't know about during normal, straight and level flight. But, I know in Colorado in the past few years, there have been a number of incidents where wings and other major structural failures have grounded fleets of firefighting tankers, moslty retired KC-135s if I'm not mistaken. Clearly that's a huge change in the weight the wings are supporting, and after being retired from military service, they had experienced countless cycles.

Quoting TheSonntag (Thread starter):

But I always find it very interesting that wings have to carry many tons of weight all over sudden after liftoff (before it is the gear)

It's a somewhat gradual transition, since as the plane accelerates down the runway, the wings gradually produce more lift. Even though actual liftoff may occur at a measurable instant in time, the transfer of weight occurs gradually. Further, carrying fuel in the wings reduces the magnitude of the force at the wing attachment points, and carrying the engines on the wings reduces it more still.



Position and hold
User currently offlineUSAFHummer From United States of America, joined May 2000, 10685 posts, RR: 53
Reply 7, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 7274 times:

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/46388/firefighting_c_130_plane_crashes/

Here's a clip of the C-130 Herc crash referenced above...

Greg



Chief A.net college football stadium self-pic guru
User currently offlineN234NW From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 80 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 7247 times:
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This one is my favorite.

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Photo © Mark Baker


Though caused by a fueling error, corrosion was a factor.


User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31684 posts, RR: 56
Reply 9, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 7183 times:

There was a video of a Water bomber breaking up.
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineAmericanB763ER From Luxembourg, joined Sep 2005, 166 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 7168 times:

IIRC there were 2 crashes in the 60's involving Lockheed L-188 Electras (the one from AA the other from NW correct me if I'm wrong) due to high vibrations in one of the outer engines resulting in a large part of the wing literally breaking off inflight.


Marco


User currently offlineEconoBoy From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2004, 157 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 7155 times:

GrandTheftAero (reply1) has a good point, but whilst engine conditions are extreme, they are steady state whilst a wing has to deal with constantly shifting loads, especially during turbulence. As a result of fatigue, all wings are doomed to fail at some stage. Hopefully, they are resparred, or else the plane that they are on is retired well before that point.

User currently offlinePyrex From Portugal, joined Aug 2005, 4024 posts, RR: 28
Reply 12, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 7142 times:

Quoting AR1300 (Reply 5):
IRCC, that was due to the engine ripping, thus debris and the sudden drag ripped it off.
I thing he meant wings ripping during regular flight regime, due to, let's call it fatigue.I think.

Actually, according to Flight International, I believe fatigue was indeed the cause of the accident: the right wing spar had a fatigue crack that propagated.

Quoting EconoBoy (Reply 11):
GrandTheftAero (reply1) has a good point, but whilst engine conditions are extreme, they are steady state whilst a wing has to deal with constantly shifting loads, especially during turbulence. As a result of fatigue, all wings are doomed to fail at some stage

Engine conditions are not steady state... any minor unbalance of the wheels, for example, causes high cyclic forces on the shafts and bearings. Fatigue is definitely an issue in aircraft engines (maybe not as serious as creep, but still very serious).



Read this very carefully, I shall write this only once!
User currently offlineKevinl1011 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 2964 posts, RR: 48
Reply 13, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 7125 times:

Back in the late '40's, BOAC had a structural failure in one of their Comets where the wing yoke tore away from the fuselage due to fatigue from pressurization. They found the problem by repeatedly pressurizing a test aircraft in a huge water tank. If I remember correctly, the windows were too large and the fuselage skin would tear from the window frames down to the wing mount. Not exactly a wing failure but related.


474218, Carl, You will be missed.
User currently offlineOzLAME From Australia, joined Feb 2005, 338 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 7119 times:

Every time I see that C-130 video I feel ill. I can just imagine some poor bastard kissing his wife goodbye and saying "I'm off to save people's homes, see you tonight" and then that happens.

There have been three fatigue-related wing losses in Australia that I can think of. The first was a Stinson Trimotor that had been re-engined with two engines of higher power; it crashed during WWII due to fatigue thought to be caused by the different loads imposed by the new engine configuration. The second was a de Havilland Dove that crashed in Western Australia in the early 1950s; IIRC that was determined to be due to a faulty wing design. There was also a Viscount in the '60s (also in W.A.), the cause was determined to be a bushing being incorrectly installed in a bolt hole in the wing spar. There was also a Viscount that crashed into Botany Bay in Sydney after losing a wing, but that was due to it flying into a thunderstorm.



Monty Python's Flying Circus has nothing to do with aviation, except perhaps for Management personnel.
User currently offlineOryx From Germany, joined Nov 2005, 126 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 7109 times:

Quoting EconoBoy (Reply 11):
GrandTheftAero (reply1) has a good point, but whilst engine conditions are extreme, they are steady state

OK, this is off topic but no they aren't. Besides transitions in the power output stalls etc. you have turbulence and the velocity deficit behind the blades inducing instationary loads on the next row (of stators). Though I do not know how this was calculated MTU Aero Engines states that the oscillation power induced of the first row of compressor blades onto the first row of stators of an EJ200 (engine of the Eurofighter) is in the order of one megawatt.


User currently offlineBuyantUkhaa From Mongolia, joined May 2004, 2901 posts, RR: 3
Reply 16, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 7107 times:

Quoting TheSonntag (Thread starter):
But I always find it very interesting that wings have to carry many tons of weight all over sudden after liftoff (before it is the gear), cope with turbulences, high and low temperatures, speeds between 0 and 1000 km/h, yet they (FORTUNATELY!) never fail...

I was told that in terms of dynamic loading, the worst stage for the wing is actually the taxiing because of the strange, low-frequent loading that it causes (as opposed to turbulence which is more high-frequent). Does anyone know more about this?

Quoting TheSonntag (Thread starter):
did wings ever fail (break) in flight?

There was an NLM F28 that had a wing come off in a thunderstorm, killing all people on board. The plane was 2 years old, so no fatigue. It experienced 6.8G! This was in The Netherlands in 1981:

http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19811006-0
http://www.airsafe.com/events/models/fokker.htm
http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vliegtuigongeval_Moerdijk (Dutch)
http://www.zero-meridean.com/ramp_sel.html#6okt81 (Dutch)


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Photo © Howard Chaloner
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Photo © Eduard Marmet




I scratch my head, therefore I am.
User currently offlineAmericanB763ER From Luxembourg, joined Sep 2005, 166 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 7100 times:

Quoting L-188 (Reply 4):
I think you are thinking of that C-130 a couple years ago



Quoting N234NW (Reply 8):
Though caused by a fueling error, corrosion was a factor.



Quoting AmericanB763ER (Reply 10):
IIRC there were 2 crashes in the 60's involving Lockheed L-188 Electras

Is it just me or is this kind of accident bound to happen to Lockheed and Fokker-aircraft more than to other brands? Did I already mention the cracks detected in the C-5's wings structure years ago resulting in the Galaxy-fleet's wing box having to be replaced? ( this cannot be categorized as "accident" though and the C5's not an airliner either  Wink ).

Just being curious
Marco


User currently offlineAvioniker From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 1109 posts, RR: 11
Reply 18, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 7074 times:

Quoting Bri2k1 (Reply 6):
moslty retired KC-135s if I'm not mistaken.

I'm pretty certain there are no retired KC-135's in service anywhere and they haven't been converted to fire surpression anywhere either.

The only big jet I know of is the Evergreen 747 being certified for water dropping.

As to the DC-9 wings being the same from birth to death, the short answer is yes, they're the same wings. There have been a couple of wing changes in instances of damage and two 86'd DC-9's were combined to make one good one in Dothan a few years ago but as a rule a catastrophic wing problem 86's the airframe.

I have to agree that it seems strange that Lockheed and Fokker have an unusually high rate of wing box problems. When I was on 141's we were always going through airspeed limitation/repair cycles.

 Smile



One may educate the ignorance from the unknowing but stupid is forever. Boswell; ca: 1533
User currently offlineJetstar From United States of America, joined May 2003, 1648 posts, RR: 10
Reply 19, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 7063 times:
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Quoting AmericanB763ER (Reply 10):
IIRC there were 2 crashes in the 60's involving Lockheed L-188 Electras (the one from AA the other from NW correct me if I'm wrong) due to high vibrations in one of the outer engines resulting in a large part of the wing literally breaking off inflight.

No AA Electra ever had a wing failure, it was a Braniff Electra and the other was as stated a NW Electra.


User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 68
Reply 20, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 7019 times:

Quoting Jetstar (Reply 19):
No AA Electra ever had a wing failure, it was a Braniff Electra and the other was as stated a NW Electra.

I thought there was one more in the Amazon basin in about the same era. One survivor, a 16 or so year old girl.

Quoting AmericanB763ER (Reply 17):
Is it just me or is this kind of accident bound to happen to Lockheed

There is an opinion about that says Lockheed built a very stiff wing, as compared with other transports.

I've seen three, that I can think of, C-130 wing failures after hard landings.

Quoting L-188 (Reply 4):
I think you are thinking of that C-130 a couple years ago. They haven't used 119's or Borate for forest fires in years. But the 119 was retired because of wing issues.

There was also a C-119 that had a wing fail due to aileron flutter. That was at least twenty years ago, maybe in California, but somewhere in the southwest US.

I don't know how long ago they stopped using "borate" but it was long-gone when I started flying in 1964. They were using a product called, I think, Phos-Chek which was based on di-ammonium phosphate. In between, I think they'd used bentonite clay dyed red and saturated with water. I'd bet actual borate wasn't used but maybe a couple of seasons back in the fifties and the name stuck like "black boxes" or "air pocket" stuck.

Did anyone mention Knute Rockne?



Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineYYZYYT From Canada, joined Apr 2005, 955 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 6999 times:

Not a failure as such, but a failure due to fire:
AC 621, July 5, 1970 - a DC 8 had an engine fire following an engine strike on an aborted landing; it went down when the outer portion of wing came off following a fuel tank explosion.

http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19700705-0

[Edited 2006-01-20 17:05:35]

User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 68
Reply 22, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 6985 times:

Quoting USAFHummer (Reply 7):
Here's a clip of the C-130 Herc crash referenced above...

By the way, could the talking head have gotten anything else wrong?

"Explosion" in flight? All I saw was the wings fold up, the fuel escape, ignite briefly and go out as the "mixture" got too lean. The clip ends too soon or pans away from any possible post-crash fire which, I believe there was.

Makes me wonder if the guy even watched it before they ran it.



Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineOzLAME From Australia, joined Feb 2005, 338 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 6914 times:

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 20):
I thought there was one more in the Amazon basin in about the same era. One survivor, a 16 or so year old girl.

IIRC that was a Friendship, the survivor was strapped into her seat and it kind of spiralled down like a falling leaf. She then walked out of the jungle unaided,I think it took her about a month.
There have been several cases of wings being burnt off in flight. There was a Viscount lost near Winton in Queensland (birthplace of QANTAS!) that had a cabin supercharger catch fire and torch through the wing spar. And although not an airliner, an RAAF Lockheed Neptune also lost a wing on the outskirts of Sydney following an engine fire. There was also a BOAC 707 that got hit by a mountain wave near Mt. Fuji and broke up, but I think it lost it's fin and engines before the wings failed, I don't really remember.



Monty Python's Flying Circus has nothing to do with aviation, except perhaps for Management personnel.
User currently offlineLitz From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1765 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (8 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 6891 times:
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Quoting Avioniker (Reply 18):
As to the DC-9 wings being the same from birth to death, the short answer is yes, they're the same wings. There have been a couple of wing changes in instances of damage and two 86'd DC-9's were combined to make one good one in Dothan a few years ago but as a rule a catastrophic wing problem 86's the airframe.

Wasn't there an AC DC9 that had a lavatory fire, destroying the fuselage, but parts of the lower fuselage, or a wing, or nose parts, (or something like that) were used to repair another aircraft? I'm pretty sure I remember wing, or a wing, being mentioned ... Or is this what's referenced above?

I also see to remember somewhere a B707 that broke up inflight due to severe turbulence (wind rotors) .... (searching) ....

From : http://www.auf.asn.au/groundschool/umodule21.html

Quote:
A wake vortex can develop in the lee of lone hills and peaks in strong, sustained wind conditions. The strong spiral turbulence can be felt at a distance ten times hill height and at an altitude considerably above hill height. A BOAC Boeing 707 suffered inflight breakup in such conditions while giving passengers a view of Mt Fuji on a cloudless day in 1966; a search and rescue aircraft recorded airframe loads of +9g /–4g when flying through the same vortex.

airdisaster.com's entry : http://www.airdisaster.com/cgi-bin/v...E&airline=British+Overseas+Airways

- litz


25 Post contains images Avioniker : Litz The two DC-9's were the Air Canada that burned on the runway (that may have been the lav fire) and a plane that was towed too close to a hangar w
26 Litz : So they changed both wings? wow ... Can you imagine the paperwork involved in recertifying (and then tracking) that plane with such a change? A bette
27 Post contains links FlyingColours : The Iran Airforce lost a 747 in Spanish Airspace in the 1970safter it was struck by lightning and the wing failed. http://aviation-safety.net/database
28 Post contains images Avioniker : I can imagine the paperwork very well... The serial number of the reconstructed aircraft is the one of the intact fuselage. It actually required very
29 FredT : Yes, but only during the period of time it takes the aircraft to rotate and not as the aircraft picks up speed. For the take-off run, you want as lit
30 Post contains links and images MissedApproach : Test video here, in Quicktime (which I detest): http://www.airandspacemagazine.com/ASM/Web/Site/QT/PWFlutter.html Not hard to imagine that causing a
31 Post contains links and images Lightsaber : This is tech ops, so re-opening an few week old thread should be ok. The only airliner that had a *design* inherent flaw in the wing designs that I kn
32 AeroWeanie : These were caused by whirl mode flutter of the propeller. The loads induced by the flutter exceeded the ultimate loads the wing was designed for and
33 Post contains links LeanOfPeak : http://www.airliners.net/info/stats.main?id=84
34 Amtrosie : I hate to burst your bubble there AR1300, but the NTSB just released the photo's of the wing cross section. The engines had nothing to do with it. A
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