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Thursday 23rd of May 2013
REX to keep flying Saab 340’s despite crack-prone wheels
The Australian air safety bureau will continue to let Regional Express Airlines’ fleet Saab propeller jets to keep flying in spite of having wheels that a known to be susceptible to fatigue cracks.
Air safety investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau found the flaw in the wheel’s design was known since 1995, when the aircraft manufacturer introduced a revision, consisting of a reinforced wheel design.
An investigation into the landing-gear wheel commenced after one broke along its circumference when the 34-seat Saab 340B aircraft landed at Sydney Airport in February last year.
Parts of the tyre bead broke from the cracked rim, causing the tyre to deflate, also damaging the brake assembly and the wheel axel on the left side main landing gear.
This allowed the tyre to move from being properly seated on the rim.
According to the investigators, the tyre had moved over the fractured segment and was caught on the fractured edges of the rim.
The landing gear assembly had to be completely replaced before the aircraft could be returned to service.
The wheel which failed on the flight was the original design.
The design of the wheel rim had been shown to be susceptible to fatigue cracking in the bead seat region, according to the investigators.
The wheel was routinely inspected with a tyre change just two weeks prior to the accident.
Investigators suspect that the wheel may have had early signs of cracking that were not noticed during the original inspection.
In spite of the known defect, the safety bureau is content to let the carrier continue flying with the original wheel design.
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