Turbine Engine Blade-off Test

Rolls Royce Engine Blade-off Test     Video Link 1     Video Link 2

The engine blade-off test is performed to make sure that the engine can survive a fan. compressor or turbine blade breaking off within the engine, without fragments being ejected through the outside enclosure of the engine.  This is a containment requirement.

A fan blade is deliberately detached during the test using an explosive device while the engine is running at maximum thrust. The test does not require that the engine continues to operate after the blade failure.

The resulting blade loss causes a rotating imbalance force which can induce moderate to severe structural vibration.

For an actual flight occurrence, the engine would be shut down. There is no means of stopping the engine from continuing to rotate while there is sufficient airflow through the fan section to drive the engine. So it would continue to “windmill” without producing any thrust. The rotating imbalance vibration would persist under these conditions.

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Here is a related video on the topic of fan blade loss…

Dr. David Ewins presentation excerpt

See: Exciting Vibrations: The Role of Testing in an Era of Supercomputers and Uncertainties

Go to 27:00 minute mark and watch for about six minutes

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Fatigue accounts for a significant number of turbine and compressor blade failures and is promoted by repeated application of fluctuating stresses. Stress levels are typically much lower than the tensile stress of the material. Common causes of vibration in compressor blades include stator passing frequency wakes, rotating stall, surge, choke, inlet distortion, and blade flutter. In the turbine section, airfoils have to function not only in a severe vibratory environment, but also under hostile conditions of high temperature, corrosion, creep, and thermomechanical fatigue.   Reference

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Flight Case Histories

AirAsia X Flight D7237, Airbus 330, Royce-Rolls Engines June 25, 2017
Video Link 1     Video Link 2

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Southwest B737 near Pensacola on Aug 27th 2016, Uncontained Engine Failure
Report Link

Engine damage seen on the ground (Photo: Peter Lemme)

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Thomas Cook Airline, Airbus A330, Rolls Royce Engines, Turbine Blade Fails
Manchester Airport UK, Monday 24 June 2013.   Video Link   Report Link

The blade failure was caused by high cycle fatigue (HCF) crack propagation with crack initiation resulting from ‘Type 2 sulphidation’ corrosion.

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Qantas Boeing 747-400 near Singapore on May 9th 2011, Fatigue Fracture of Blade 24

The fatigue fracture of blade 24 (Photo: ATSB)

Article Link

The engine was removed and sent for further analysis. Disassembly revealed only minor damage to internal components. The root of the fractured blade was removed and sent for laboratory analysis. The analysis revealed the blade had fractured as result of growth of a low stress/high cycle fatigue crack.

– Tom Irvine

One thought on “Turbine Engine Blade-off Test

  1. Pingback: Aircraft Fatigue | Vibrationdata

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