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White PaperAerospace

Cause and Effect: The Fundamentals of Aerospace Failure Analysis


There are millions of large and small parts, assembled components, subsystems, and structures built by a myriad of suppliers that all must come together to manufacture the modern aircraft. From wires, cables, fasteners, and LED displays to fuel tanks, wing assemblies, and fire suppression systems, today’s planes are among the most complex machines ever constructed. Pair that with the fact that many fly upwards of 20 hours a day, some for 20 years or more, and it’s no surprise that things break.

When a failure occurs in the aerospace industry, we start to ask questions as to the cause. Was it the design? Was it a material? Was it a change in assembly or maintenance procedures? Was it accelerated wear and tear? Was it the environment? It can be one, none, or all of the above.

As such, one of the best tools in the toolbox for any aerospace supplier or manufacturer is failure analysis. The scientific method-based approach to establishing cause and effect can be used across all phases of a product’s lifecycle, from prototyping and testing to in-service maintenance and repairs. Failure analysis asks the right questions to find the right answers. Answers that beyond improving quality, performance, costs, and reliability, can be a powerful defense in preventing devastating consequences.

In this paper, we explore common failures in the aerospace industry, what failure analysis is and how it can help, and explore the failure analysis process to help you understand what goes into an investigation. To learn about the fundamentals of the failure analysis process, download our free white paper.

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