This work forms part of a larger investigation into fracture detection using acoustic emission (AE) during landing gear airworthiness testing. It focuses on the use of principal component analysis (PCA) to differentiate between fracture signals and high levels of background noise. An artificial acoustic emission (AE) fracture source was developed and additionally five sources were used to generate differing AE signals. Signals were recorded from all six artificial sources in a real landing gear component subject to no load. Further to this, artificial fracture signals were recorded in the same component under airworthiness test load conditions. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to automatically differentiate between AE signals from different source types. Furthermore, successful separation of artificial fracture signals from a very high level of background noise was achieved. The presence of a load was observed to affect the ultrasonic propagation of AE signals.