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Sydney-Kingsford Smith International Airport, NSW (SYD/YSSY)
Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Narrative: A Saab 340B aircraft, registered VH-NRX was being operated as RXA768 on a routine passenger flight from Albury, New South Wales (NSW) to Sydney, NSW. On board the aircraft were 16 passengers and 3 crew. About 55 nautical miles south-west of Sydney airport, the crew noticed uncommanded engine indications and began the necessary checklists. While undertaking the checklist items, the crew experienced minor vibrations from the right engine. These vibrations worsened as the checklist progressed and became visually evident to the First Officer. As a result the crew commenced the engine shutdown procedure. During the engine shutdown procedure, the propeller separated from the aircraft. The crew made a Pan-Pan call to air traffic control, and completed the engine shutdown procedure. The aircraft landed without incident at Sydney airport. On 21 March 2017, the NSW Police Aviation Support Branch (PolAir) undertook a search operation for the separated propeller. The propeller was located in an area under dense forest about 8NM south-west of Sydney airport. The propeller was found with the flange section of propeller shaft secured to the propeller assembly and a fracture through the propeller shaft.
Contributing factors: - The propeller shaft failed as a result of a fatigue crack that had initiated at the dowel pin hole and propagated through the shaft until it could no longer transmit the required loads. - The engine manufacturer did not have specific inspection procedures in the maintenance documents of the propeller shaft to detect a fatigue crack originating from the dowel pin hole. [Safety Issue] Other safety factors: - The form used by Regional Express during a propeller removal and installation, HM-26 Revision 5, included the task to inspect the propeller gearbox, but did not provide for recording of inspection findings as defined within documented procedures. Consequently, this did not provide for the best opportunity to ensure potential defects were identified, recorded and monitored.