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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Use electron microscopes to check planes, says aviation expert

Universiti Kuala Lumpur's Prof Mohd Harridon Mohamed Suffian says there have been cases of problems within the atomic structure of some aeroplanes.
Mohd-Harridon-airasiaPETALING JAYA: An aviation expert has advised AirAsia to be “microscopic” in its inspections to avoid incidents like the one involving its Kuala Lumpur bound Airbus A330 which was forced to return to Perth after experiencing engine problems.
This follows the transport ministry’s directive to AirAsia to check with its aircraft manufacturer on the reasons behind the technical problem.
Deputy Transport Minister Aziz Kaprawi had said the Airbus manufacturer was responsible for ensuring every aircraft was safe and “to look for a remedy if there were problems”.
Speaking to FMT, Prof Mohd Harridon Mohamed Suffian said the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) had compiled cases in previous years involving other airlines where ingrained crystalline fault had existed during the manufacturing process.
“There still needs to be further investigation on the matter but it is plausible that ingrained crystalline faults could have ruptured the fan blade,” he said.
Harridon, who is head of research and innovation at Universiti Kuala Lumpur and a former candidate for the national astronaut programme, explained that “ingrained crystalline fault” occured when the material used to create the fan blade becomes brittle like glass due to imbalances at the atomic level.
He suggested – if AirAsia wasn’t doing it already – to impose a periodic comprehensive check procedure involving electron microscopes to check the structural integrity of the blades.
“This is time consuming and increases the maintenance costs but it is worthwhile towards ensuring future incidents do not occur.”
Last Sunday, The West Australian newspaper cited passengers as saying that they had heard a bang before the plane started shuddering.
According to AFP, the incident is the second one this month involving an Airbus A330 in Australia. Previously, a China Eastern flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Sydney after a huge hole appeared in one of its engine casings.
Asked if there was some known defect in the Airbus A330’s design, Harridon said no, adding: “The Airbus A330 is a state of the art aircraft equipped with a safety ‘flight envelope’ which prevents any extreme physical movements or manoeuvres of the aircraft.
“It is perhaps best for the original equipment manufacturer to take an in depth look at the quality assurance process during the manufacturing process of the engine so that the end product is produced as per design specifications.” -FMT

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