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At about 1921 CST, on 13 July 2004, the left engine of a Fairchild Industries Inc. SA227 DC aircraft, registered VH-KEX, failed during the climb phase after takeoff. The aircraft was being operated on a scheduled passenger service from Ceduna to Adelaide, South Australia with 2 crew and 17 passengers.

A subsequent examination of the engine, a Garrett TPE331-12UHR, by the operator, in the presence of Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigators, found that the turbine rotating airseal had failed transversely through the cooling holes around the centre of the cylindrical section. That resulted in the liberation of the seal flange and substantial damage to the downstream turbine module (refer Figures 1 and 2).

Since 1995, the engine manufacturer had received four reported failures of the rotating airseal for the TPE331-12 engine. These failures were attributed to progressive thermal cracking. As a result, the manufacturer introduced several service bulletins related to modifications to improve core engine airflow and the introduction of a Fluorescent Penetrant Inspection (FPI) to the rotating airseal. The requirements of these service bulletins had been complied with on this engine during manufacture and FPI was performed at scheduled intervals as required by the manufacturer.

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