Seattle, Washington - Airlines increase inspections for structural cracks found on Boeing 737 NG series jets, after encountering problems in airplanes that did not require immediate checks.
Theses structural cracks were recently discovered on the pickle forks of some 737 NGs, a part that connects the aircraft’s wing structure to the fuselage.
The cost of MRO operations to fix those cracks is around $275,000 per aircraft. There are currently thousands of Boeing 737 NG series jets in service with airlines across the world.
On Oct. 2nd, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued an airworthiness directive mandating inspections for 737 NGs with more than 30,000 take-off and landing cycles.
But Australian flag carrier Qantas announced that the engineers have encountered cracks on a plane with under 27,000 take-off and landing cycles.
According to a source who anonymously spoke to Reuters news agency, the carrier has also found a crack on a second Qantas 737 NG with nearly 27,500 cycles during an inspection held this week.
Qantas said that it was planning to check 33 Boeing 737 NG jets by the end of this week, which are more than 22,600 take-off and landing cycles.
The Australian carrier removed third 737 NG from the service this week.
On the other hand, another major 737 NG operator, Southwest Airlines has reportedly discovered cracks on one aircraft with around 28,500 cycles.
A company spokesperson said the airline has so far withdrawn three 737 NG aircraft from service to fix the cracks found in pickle forks.
After new findings, Qantas and Southwest decided to expand the checks to the planes that are currently under 30,000 take-off and landing cycle pointed by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
As of Oct. 29, 1,000 Boeing 737 NG aircraft had reached the required threshold for inspections, and fewer than 5% had issues, a Boeing spokesperson said.
Boeing also said that additional assessments were underway to ascertain the cause of those cracks.
American Airlines and United Airlines have also begun inspections for their 737 NG jets with less than 30,000 cycles, but no issue reported yet.