U.S. News

FAA orders inspections of Boeing 737NG cracks

By Sommer Brokaw   |   Sept. 28, 2019 at 3:46 PM
Boeing said the cracks didn't cause any incidents. File Photo by Ken Wolter/Shutterstock


Sept. 28 (UPI) -- The Federal Aviation Administration ordered inspections on another type of Boeing 737 -- the NG model -- after inspectors found structural cracks.

KOMO News reported the unexpected structural cracks on Boeing 737 Next Generation planes Friday.

The cracks were found on the pickle fork, which is a small part of the plane which helps tie the wings to the aircraft's main body and helps manage stress, torque and aerodynamic forces.

"Safety and quality are our top priorities,"a Boeing spokesperson wrote to KOMO News. "Boeing has notified the FAA and been in contact with 737NG operators about a cracking issue discovered on a small number of airplanes undergoing modifications. No in-service issues have been reported. Over the coming days, we will work closely with our customers to implement a recommended inspection plan for certain airplanes in the fleet. This issue does not affect any 737 Max airplanes or the P-8 Poseidon."

Boeing has not said how many planes would be inspected.

In the worst-case scenario, an in-flight failure of the pickle fork could be catastrophic.

Though pickle forks are designed to last for more than 90,000 landings and takeoffs, which are coined "flight cycles" in the aviation industry, workers recently found a severely cracked part on a relatively young Boeing 737 NG with approximately 35,000 flight cycles logged.

A source told KOMO News that Boeing quickly reported the issue to the FAA last week, and after that more planes were found with similar cracking.

Though people may have flown aboard the jets with cracked pickle forks before the issue was discovered, no one has been injured.

The 737 NGs are the generation of models made prior to the 737 Max. The 737 NG models include 737-600, 737-700, 737-800 or 737-900. The models started production in 1996 and the last one rolled off the factory floor this summer in Renton, Wash.

President Donald Trump announced in March that the FAA grounded Boeing 737 Max aircraft after two fatal crashes in less than six months, making the United States the last country to issue the order.

The 737 Max crashed in Ethiopia shortly after takeoff on March 10, killing all 157 aboard.

Similarly, a Boeing 737 Max 8 flight crashed shortly after takeoff in Indonesia in October killing all 189 aboard.

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