Forensic engineering and engineering fiction
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Group F Iliana Gamboa Saul Mejia Miriam Garcia Daniel Perez Ricardo Felix Andrea Rios. Forensic Engineering and Engineering Fiction. Alexander L. Kielland. A Pentagon-type semi-submersible drilling

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Forensic Engineering and Engineering Fiction

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Group F

Iliana Gamboa Saul Mejia

Miriam Garcia Daniel Perez

Ricardo Felix Andrea Rios

Forensic Engineering and Engineering Fiction

Alexander L. Kielland

  • A Pentagon-type semi-submersible drilling

  • It was supporting the Edda rig, acting as a so-called ‘flotel’ for workers who travelled between the two rigs via a bridge

  • Around 1830 hours on 27 March 1980, one of the main horizontal braces supporting one of the five legs failed

Alexander L. Kielland Accident

  • It was designed for much worse conditions, conditions expected once in every one hundred years

  • One leg broke off with “an almighty crack.”

  • 123 victims and only 89 survivors

Causes of the accident

  • Speculations to what caused it were from collision with Edda, with a submarine, or basic design flaws

  • Parts were taken to Stavanger, Norway where the fracture surfaces were examined

  • Telltale signs of uncontrollable growth of a large crack that had developed unbeknownst to the rig’s operators

Causes of the accident (Cont.)

  • Cracks developed due to fatigue cracks

  • When it was new it must have cracked 3 inches

Havilland Comet aircraft

  • On May 2, 1953 a Comet was destroyed on take off from Dum-Dum Airport in Calcutta, India

  • Debris scattered over large area suggested plane disintegrated in the air

  • Structural failure due to too much force of the storm or pilot over control due to storm were said to be the causes of the incident

Havilland Comet aircraft (Cont.)

  • In January 10, 1954, a second Comet taking off from Rome exploded at 27,000 feet

  • No conclusion could be reached on the cause reached

Havilland Comet aircraft (Cont.)

  • On April 8, 1954, a third and final mid-air explosion occurred during a flight en route from London to Cairo and Johannesburg

  • Cabin exploded but no explanation why.

  • Testing of the Comet was done in a simulation

  • Findings

  • What caused it

  • What was done

Neville Shute Norway

  • Aeronautical Engineer graduated fro Oxford

  • Also wrote many novels including “On the Beach” and “Like Alice”

  • Former member of the Royal Aeronautical Society (1934).

Neville Shute Norway

  • Curiously foreshadowed the elusive fatigue problem of the de Havilland Comets

  • Failed due to undesirable aerodynamic phenomenon of flutter (according to “Honey a fictional character from his novel)

Neville Shute Norway Cont.

  • Stephen Barlay was a well know “Aircrash Detective” who analyzed the crash of de Havilland Comets

  • Barlay during his investigation claims that at the attitude the plane was flying at the wax might have cooled and become brittle

  • It flew six years before crashing


  • Incalculable value to the engineer

  • Need to prepare for failure

  • What complicates the design game is that the engineer does not always foresee the implications that he is making

Failure Cont.

  • No matter how tragic a failure might be, it could have been anticipated and prevented

  • “Failure analysis is as easy as Monday-morning quarterbacking; design is more akin to coaching. However, the design engineer must do better than any coach, for he is expected to win every game he plays..”

Work Cited

  • To Engineer is Human by Henry Petroski. First Vintage Books Edition, 1992.

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