Aircraft Structural Accidents


Aircraft Structural Accidents
What We Can Learn From Them

Who should participate

  • There are no prerequisites for this course, and it will involve very few mathematical calculations. Design engineers, scientists, college professors, structural engineers, maintenance personnel, airline logistics and liaison engineers, and materials science personnel will benefit. This course is also suited to engineers, technicians, and managers in airlines, aircraft modification centers, aircraft and component manufactures, and defense installations, as well as airworthiness agencies like the FAA.

Key Topics

We will review aircraft structural failure modes like fatigue, buckling, 12 types of corrosion, overload, fretting, thermal failures, wear, impact, spalling… Some high profile aircraft structural accidents will be analyzed in detail as well as some not-so-famous crashes.

The focus is on what lessons Engineers and Technicians can learn.

Course Outline

Day 1


  • The role of aircraft structural accident reports in fostering aviation safety
  • Fundamental failure mode contribution to a typical aerospace structural deficiency
  • Elementary concepts of crack propagation calculations, fatigue analysis, residual strength estimations, and stress corrosion thresholds

Day 2

  • Striation data usefulness and pitfalls–relevant to aluminum alloys, steel, and titanium
  • Types of corrosion in aerospace structures–Case studies

Day 3

  • Example problems – Relating to Aircraft Structural Accidents
  • Review questions

Commercial Jet Turboprop, and Small Plane Structure Related Accidents

  • The structural failure relating to the Wright Flyer
  • The Comet catastrophes
  • Airbus accidents

Day 4

  • The Aloha mishap
  • Sioux City crash, 1989
  • JAL jumbo jet accident

Day 5

  • General aviation accidents
  • Turboprop crashes
  • USAIR flight 427 findings
  • Review questions and case studies