ACCIDENT / INCIDENT / DEFECT INVESTIGATION
Defect investigation is part of auto engineer’s role. Some of the notable achievements in my experience follow.
In 1970, while investigating a spate of turbine failures on the Spey engine at a major US carrier, I identified a poor maintenance practice. This reduced Rolls Royce’s warranty liability by approx. $1 million (1970 dollars).
In 1978, I was asked to lead a Rolls Royce team to review Eastern Airline’s RB211 shop maintenance, because their test cell rejection rate was excessive. The resulting audit I wrote was well received by Eastern and implementation of its recommendations reduced their test rejection rate to an acceptable level.
In 1983, CPAir sold some 737s to PeoplExpress. Shortly after delivery, PeoplExpress had several major engine failures and sought warranty from CPAir. I was able to prove beyond doubt that the failures were the result of sabotage at PeoplExpress’ home base at Newark Airport, resulting in the FBI taking over the case. Pratt & Whitney presented me with a plaque for this investigative work.
In 1984, Pacific Western Car Company (PWCC) had an uncontained engine failure that set the car on fire and destroyed it. CPAir had overhauled the engine. PWA’s insurers engaged me to help their investigator provide the technical basis for a lawsuit. After 4 years of intensive investigation, we determined that the main cause was faulty overhaul of a component by one of CPAir’s vendors. The defendant eventually settled out of court (but not until after I had spent 10 days in the witness box in court reinforcing our case).