Broken bolt led to fatal accident in Chinese space simulator

Posted Tuesday, September 28, 2010 11:44 AM | Contributed by Jeff

The fatal amusement park accident in China's south, which killed six and injured 10 earlier this year, was due to a design fault, said an official report released Tuesday. Space Journey, a ride that simulates the conditions of a rocket launch, spun madly out-of-control after a screw bolt between the supporting system of the simulator and the piston rod snapped. Bad design had made checking and maintaining the screw bolt difficult, which resulted in the bolt's wear and tear and eventual break, according to the report by the administrative bureau of work safety of Yantian District of Shenzhen.

Read more from Xinhua via CRI.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 11:49 AM

I'm surprised we got know that much information...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 12:17 PM

I still have no idea what this ride system is like. What I've seen so far seemed more like Mission:Space combined with a tower freefall ride.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 12:47 PM

This is interesting, while tragic. - but i am more interested in the charges that will be levied by the state against the park/ride manufacturer - and their outcome. As I recall they have a more authoritarian stance on such issues.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 4:09 PM

If you look at the manufacturer website you will see that most of their rides under their products are knock off rides that were originally built by other companies in North America. They had a knock off Chaos and knock off Disco. Since they offer mostly knock off products I am not very suprised this all happened. I am very suprised we did here what did go wrong and everything.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 8:09 PM

Your views on China could use a bit of updating. Had this been a governmental or military issue, then yes info would have been hard to get. However, issues on business and non-state related issues flows readily (if not completely freely).

When I was in Shanghai earlier this year, I saw more more billboards for Mercedes and BMW , and only one or two pictures of Mao

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 10:21 AM

Hmm, one of those bolts marked grade 8 that isn't?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 10:34 AM

Considering pretty much everyone outside the US uses the metric system, I think you mean a class 10.9 bolt. :)

And really, it's more likely they were using a class 12.9 bolt, which has an 18% higher proof load. Which, if not properly monitored & maintained, would still eventually fail, just as any carbon-based fastener under cyclical load would.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 6:45 PM

Brandon: You're right. But the industry standard for the amusement industry is typically "grade 5 or better" and is typically grade 8; on the Metric side the ones you see the most often are 8.8's and 10.9's.

And of course, Dutchman was alluding to the counterfeit bolt problem that came up in the mid 1990's and was a huge problem in both trucking and in the amusement industry. It was so bad that it led to the Fastener Quality Act which was going to require a paper trail for just about every graded bolt used in many industries. The Act ended up not being implemented...but the demands of industry pretty much got rid of the counterfeit bolt problem. I remember seeing a chart that showed which combinations of manufacturer marks and grade indications to watch out for, but I haven't seen those in years. Now you just look for the stamp of a reputable manufacturer and the correct grade markings and it's pretty much okay.

From the description, though, it sounds like the problem was, as you suggest, not that it was the wrong bolt, or a defective bolt, but that it was neither inspected nor maintained, probably due to its location and function. It could be as simple as the nut came loose and allowed the bolt to wear (if properly torqued the bolt should not wear...because there is no motion) and nobody caught it until it failed.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Correction: FQA was implemented, but the recordkeeping requirements were largely eliminated and broad exemptions were applied for fasteners manufactured in accordance with widely accepted standards.


Last edited by RideMan, Wednesday, September 29, 2010 6:49 PM
Thursday, September 30, 2010 10:54 AM

Where would the bolts come from? Are they supplied by the ride manufacturer or are they locally sourced? If they are locally sourced would the FQA mean much to a Chinese supplier?

Thursday, September 30, 2010 11:57 AM

No because it's an American law, not Chinese.

Thursday, September 30, 2010 1:10 PM

If you're referring to the fastener used domestically (in this case China) yes the FQA has no impact. However for fasteners imported for use in the U.S, the importer is held responsible for for the certification.

Thursday, September 30, 2010 7:03 PM

I only brought it up because clearly Dutchman is familiar with the counterfeit fastener problem. It's also worth noting that Chinese manufacturing was probably responsible for some of the counterfeit fasteners that hit the US market. The FQA was an American response to the problem, but as often happens, industry moved faster than government did, so the problem kind of corrected itself just as the law was taking effect.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Saturday, October 2, 2010 11:49 AM

Any chance that this news will lead to yet another inappropriately hilarious animation from NMA?


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