Saturday, February 29, 2020

Two Austral E190's each lose one nose gear wheel in two year time span

Two Austral E190's each lost one of their nose gear wheels in separate incidents in a two-year time span.  Details below.

Austral E190, LV-CID (c/n 409), lands at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 17Nov16.  (Phil Perry Photo)

LV-CID (c/n 409) operating from Mar del Plata (MDQ) to Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 29Jan18 lost its left nose gear wheel as it lined up for takeoff from MDQ with the crew taxiing back to the gate after the incident.  

The Argentine aviation investigating agency JIAAC released its final report on 16Jul19 with the following conclusions:

* The investigation found evidence of fatigue failure at the rim of the wheel of the nose landing gear.

* it was determined that the origin of the stress concentrating point, that caused the fissure, was corrosion by pitting

* it could not be reliably detected why the fissure expanded undetected by non-destructive tests carried out in regular scheduled intervals until the fracture occurred

* The investigation did not find any concrete evidence that could link the fatigue failure with inadequate maintenance or metallurgical damage

* The investigation did not find any similar failures in the history of the fleet or type of aircraft 

At least one reader of the article published in The Aviation Herald questioned why non-destructive tests that are a part of regular maintenance did not detect the cracks prior to the separation:

"The wheel has failed in precisely the location which must be routinely checked during tyre changes and wheel overhaul. Non-destructive techniques (eddy current, dye penetrant) have been routinely used for 50 + years to detect cracks in wheel flange areas which is why these occurrences are indeed rare. Failures like these propagate from corrosion pits and other mechanical damage. I would not be surprised to find that the subject wheel had been cracked for a considerable time. No excuses acceptable really - this airline is a major player."

Photo of the nose gear failure:

Photo: Austral E190 LV-CID nose gear missing left wheel

Austral E190, LV-CHQ (c/n 397), at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 11Jul17.  (Phil Perry Photo)

* LV-CHQ (c/n 397) operating from Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) to Rosario (ROS) lost its left nose gear wheel after landing in ROS at 2:10am on 17Feb20.  The crew was not aware of the missing wheel until the aircraft had finished taxiing to the gate.  Cause of the separation was not reported.  

Photos of the nose gear failure: