Combustion Section Inspection (Part One)

in Engine Maintenance and Operation

One of the controlling factors in the service life of the turbine engine is the inspection and cleaning of the hot section. Emphasis must be placed on the importance of careful inspection and repair of this section.

The following are general procedures for performing a hot section (turbine and combustion section) inspection. It is not intended to imply that these procedures are to be followed when performing repairs or inspections on turbine engines. However, the various practices are typical of those used on many turbine engines. Where a clearance or tolerance is shown, it is for illustrative purposes only. Always follow the instructions contained in the applicable manufacturer’s maintenance and overhaul manuals.


The entire external combustion case should be inspected for evidence of hotspots, exhaust leaks, and distortions before the case is opened. After the combustion case has been opened, the combustion chambers can be inspected for localized overheating, cracks, or excessive wear. [Figure 10-63] Inspect the first stage turbine blades and nozzle guide vanes for cracks, warping, or FOD. Also inspect the combustion chamber outlet ducts and turbine nozzle for cracks and for evidence of FOD.

Figure 10-63. Combustion case inspection.

Figure 10-63. Combustion case inspection.

One of the most frequent discrepancies that are detected while inspecting the hot section of a turbine engine is cracking. These cracks may occur in many forms, and the only way to determine that they are within acceptable limits or if they are allowed at all, is to refer to the applicable engine manufacturer’s service and overhaul manuals.

Cleaning the hot section is not usually necessary for a repair in the field, but in areas of high salt water or other chemicals a turbine rinse should be accomplished.

Engine parts can be degreased by using the emulsion-type cleaners or chlorinated solvents. The emulsion-type cleaners are safe for all metals, since they are neutral and noncorrosive. Cleaning parts by the chlorinated solvent method leaves the parts absolutely dry. If they are not to be subjected to further cleaning operations, they should be sprayed with a corrosion-preventive solution to protect them against rust or corrosion.

The hot section, which generally includes the combustion section and turbine sections, normally require inspections at regular intervals. The extent of disassembly of the engine to accomplish this inspection varies from different engine types. Most engines require that the combustion case be open for the inspection of the hot section. However, in performing this disassembly, numerous associated parts are readily accessible for inspection. The importance of properly supporting the engine and the parts being removed cannot be overstressed.

The alignment of components being removed and installed is also of the utmost importance. After all the inspections and repairs are made, the manufacturer’s detailed assembly instructions should be followed. These instructions are important in efficient engine maintenance, and the ultimate life and performance of the engine. Extreme care must be taken during assembly to prevent dirt, dust, cotter pins, lock wire, nuts, washers, or other foreign material from entering the engine.

Marking Materials for Combustion Section Parts

Certain materials may be used for temporary marking during assembly and disassembly. Always refer to manufacturer’s information for marking parts. Layout dye (lightly applied) or chalk may be used to mark parts that are directly exposed to the engine’s gas path, such as turbine blades and disks, turbine vanes, and combustion chamber liners. A wax marking pencil may be used for parts that are not directly exposed to the gas path. Do not use a wax marking pencil on a liner surface or a turbine rotor. The use of carbon alloy or metallic pencils is not recommended because of the possibility of causing inter-granular corrosion attack, that could result in a reduction in material strength and cracking.

Inspection and Repair of Combustion Chambers

Inspect the combustion chambers and covers for cracks by using visible dye or fluorescent penetrant inspection method. Any cracks, nicks, or dents are usually cause for rejecting the component. Inspect the covers, noting particularly the area around the fuel drain bosses for any pits or corrosion. When repairing the combustion chamber liner, the procedures given in the appropriate engine manufacturer’s overhaul instruction manual should be followed. If there is doubt that the liner is serviceable, it should be replaced.

Combustion chambers should be replaced or repaired if two cracks are progressing from a free edge so that their meeting is imminent and could allow a piece of metal that could cause turbine damage to break loose. Separate cracks in the baffle are acceptable. Cracks in the cone are rare but, at any location on this component, is cause for rejection of the liner. Cracks in the swirl vanes are cause for rejection of the liner. Loose swirl vanes may be repaired by silver brazing. Cracks in the front liner emanating from the air holes are acceptable, provided they do not exceed allowable limits. If such cracks fork or link with others, the liner must be repaired. If two cracks originating from the same air hole are diametrically opposite, the liner is acceptable. Radial cracks extending from the interconnector and spark igniter boss are acceptable, if they do not exceed allowable limits and if such cracks do not fork or link with others. Circumferential cracks around the boss pads should be repaired prior to re-use of the liner. Baffle cracks connecting more than two holes should be repaired.

After long periods of engine operation, the external surfaces of the combustion chamber liner location pads often show signs of fretting. This is acceptable, provided no resultant cracks or perforation of the metal is apparent. Any cover or chamber inadvertently dropped on a hard surface or mishandled should be thoroughly inspected for minute cracks that may elongate over a period of time and then open, creating a hazard.

Parts may be found where localized areas have been heated to an extent to buckle small portions of the chamber. Such parts are considered acceptable if the burning of the part has not progressed into an adjacent welded area, or to such an extent as to weaken the structure of the liner weldment. Buckling of the combustion chamber liner can be corrected by straightening the liner. Moderate buckling and associated cracks are acceptable in the row of cooling holes. More severe buckling that produces a pronounced shortening or tilting of the liner is cause for rejection. Upon completion of the repairs by welding, the liner should be restored as closely as possible to its original shape.