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Tuesday, 22 March 1966

Mr SWARTZ (Darling Downs) (Minister for Civil Aviation) . - by leave - The engine failure which occurred on a Boeing 727 aircraft at Sydney on 16th March 1966 was the result of the failure of a turbine blade in the first stage turbine. The JT8D engine has four turbine wheels which are turned by the exhaust gases and between them these turbine wheels drive the front fan and the two stages of the compressor. The failure of the blade was due to a mechanical break about 2£ inches from the tip. The reasons for the failure have not yet been established but it is highly probable that they are of a creep or hot fatigue nature. Turbine blades are subject to high stresses at high temperatures and experience with all types of blades has been that isolated failures of blades occur on infrequent occasions.

Honorable members will be aware that the performance standards applicable to large airline aircraft provide for these aircraft to continue operating safely in the event of an engine failure at any stage of the flight, lt is also significant that the engine failure rate with gas turbines is many times lower than with piston engines. Over the years Australian aircraft have experienced a number of turbine blade failures in various types of aircraft and almost without exception the pattern has been that the broken blade passes through the remaining turbine stages without dislodging other blades. On some occasions aircraft have continued to operate after losing a turbine blade without the pilot being aware that this has happened until the engine has been inspected on the ground.

In the recent failure, it appears that a portion of the broken blade became wedged in the turbine housing and caused blades of the second stage turbine to become dislodged, resulting in a large number of blades passing through the final two stages, thereby removing even more blades. This result from a turbine failure is unusual, but it is significant that the aircraft suffered no damage and an uneventful landing was subsequently made. It is the policy of my Department that any failures which occur should be investigated for the purpose of determining their causes and where necessary the airlines are required to take appropriate action to guard against repetition of these failures. My Department is continuing its investigation of this latest failure.

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