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The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) was requested by officers from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to conduct an examination and analysis of several damaged thrust bearing elements from the propeller drive shaft of a Teledyne Continental Motors model GTSIO520M aircraft engine (serial number 810712). Information received indicated that the bearings and accompanying propeller shaft were removed from service during maintenance activities; the discovered damage prompting the aircraft operator to submit a defect report / service difficulty report (SDR) to CASA. A second similar instance of bearing failure and shaft damage was also reported, having occurred on a similar engine (serial number 239168R) approximately one month previously.

The assessment of bearing compliance with the manufacturer's specifications or the direct applicability of the particular bearing part to the engine within which they were installed was not within the scope of the investigation.


The following conclusions, in terms of the bearing failures, were drawn from the examination of the supplied components:

1. The bearings from ESN 810712 had failed as a result of gross, localised frictional overheating, resulting in the physical and microstructural degradation of the bearing alloy.
2. There was no evidence that a manufacturing defect, material anomaly or other deficiency within the bearing components themselves had contributed to the failure.
3. There was no evidence found to suggest that the bearings had been improperly installed.
4. The investigation was not able to directly identify the proximate cause/s of bearing failure, however it is suggested that initial bearing clearances, lubrication and loading were most likely in terms of the nature of the failure and the general function of the assembly.

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