Journal of Failure Analysis and Prevention

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 74–81 | Cite as

Investigation of the Fatigue Cracking Leading to the Fatal Crash of a Replica Wright Flyer

  • Erik Mueller
  • James Cash
  • Edward Malinowski
Technical Article---Peer-Reviewed


On June 30, 2011, a replica of the original Wright Flyer was on a test flight manned by two experienced pilots. During what was to be a routine flight, the aircraft experienced a partial loss of thrust causing a spiraling descent into the ground. Examination of the wreckage revealed that the left propeller shaft had fractured around a weld, preventing the propeller from being driven by the engine. Following a failure analysis by the NTSB, fatigue cracks were found emanating from the welded areas of the propellers. These cracks led to separation of the propellers from the shafts, which led to loss of thrust of the aircraft.


Weld Failure analysis Fatigue cracking 



In accordance with Title 5 Code of Federal Regulations §2635.807(b) (2), the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of the National Transportation Safety Board or the United States.


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Copyright information

© ASM International 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Materials Laboratory DivisionNTSBWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Recorders DivisionNTSBWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.NTSB-Central Regional OfficeDenverUSA

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