The aim of this course is to provide engineering investigators, who may not have experience in dealing with aircraft wreckage, the fundamental skills necessary to undertake a material or structures investigation.

The course gives the delegate an understanding of the relevant failure modes, the ability to inspect wreckage to understand the most likely failure scenarios, and to be proficient in obtaining and evaluating information supplied by material forensic specialists. This course brings together considerable expertise of accident investigators and forensic experts to deliver a level of practical training that is world-class. 

At a glance

  • DurationFive days
  • LocationCranfield campus
  • Cost


Course structure

The course begins with lectures and case studies based on key failure modes and their visually recognisable failure characteristics. Participants will then be involved in practical exercises to consolidate learning through the use of aircraft wreckage, specimens and samples. The week will culminate in the examination of an aircraft that had failed due to an in-flight breakup. Delegates will be able to receive feedback on their performance during the week.

What you will learn

On successful completion of the course, the delegate will be able to:

  • Examine aircraft wreckage to interpret the failure features
  • Describe the failure modes and visual characteristics associated with material failures
  • Inspect a fracture surface to make a judgement on the evidence available
  • Evaluate the information supplied from a forensic specialist
  • Plan the different aspects of a structural investigation.

Core content

  • Fundamentals of laboratory examinations and capabilities
  • The principles behind loads, stresses and strain
  • Stress concentrations - the influence on failure characteristics
  • Static failures - Theory and failure characteristics
  • Fatigue - Theory and failure characteristics
  • Composite materials - Failure characteristics
  • Adhesives and bonding failures
  • Wooden materials - Failure characteristics 
  • Gas Turbine specific failures
  • Sequencing in-flight breakups
  • Sampling techniques and wreckage handling.

Who should attend

The course is suitable for delegates from the following organisations:

• Civil accident investigation agencies
• Military
• Airlines and operators
• Manufacturers and maintainers
• Forensic materials engineering.


Jean-Francois Berthier
Investigator, Le Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses (BEA)

Christine Le Grand
Metallurgist, Head of investigation department, MoD Engine Test Centre

Speaker TBC
Air Safety Investigation Engineer, Rolls-Royce PLC

Accommodation options and prices

This is a non-residential course. If you would like to book accommodation on campus, please contact Mitchell Hall or Cranfield Management Development Centre directly. Further information regarding our accommodation on campus can be found here.

Alternatively you may wish to make your own arrangements at a nearby hotel.


Location and travel

Cranfield University is situated in Bedfordshire close to the border with Buckinghamshire. The University is located almost midway between the towns of Bedford and Milton Keynes and is conveniently situated between junctions 13 and 14 of the M1.

London Luton, Stansted and Heathrow airports are 30, 90 and 90 minutes respectively by car, offering superb connections to and from just about anywhere in the world. 

For further location and travel details

Location address

Cranfield University
College Road 
MK43 0AL

How to apply

To apply for this course please use the online application form.

Read our Professional development (CPD) booking conditions.