Australian Government Lobs Shot At Engine Manufacturers

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In a 269-page report released last month (28.5 MB PDF), the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) took a thinly veiled stab at reciprocating engine manufacturers, alleging that industry-wide "poor communication, complacency, lack of knowledge, distraction, lack of teamwork, fatigue, lack of resources, pressure, lack of assertiveness, stress, lack of awareness, and accepted norms" contributed to 20 engine-failure-related aircraft accidents reported to the ATSB between January 2000 and December 2005. The report, titled "Aircraft Reciprocating-Engine Failure: An Analysis of Failure in a Complex Engineered System," states that 1,270 reciprocating multi-engine aircraft flew a total of about 220,000 hours during the study period. The events detailed in the report "are dominated by combustion chamber component melting, plain bearing breakup or movement, and the initiation and growth of fatigue cracking in components that are designed to have a life not limited by fatigue."

Engine reliability has declined, the report suggests, because manufacturers have failed to effectively gather and act upon information on the performance of engine sub-systems and components. "Recurrent propulsion system failures suggests that system adjustment or correction, through an effective feedback process, is not occurring," the report states. For more information on reciprocating engine management and the ATSB's history dealing with engine hiccups, read John Deakin's August 2002 Pelican's Perch column. Deakin is a regular contributor to AVweb.