Boeing said Boeing 737NG operators grounded a total of 38 single-aisle aircraft. Inspections have revealed cracks at the wing-fuselage spar attachment points.
The U.S. Civil Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered airlines to inspect Boeing 737NG aircraft that flew 30,000 flight cycles. The FAA ordered the inspections on October 2, 2019, after Boeing discovered cracks on the “pickle fork” — the wing-fuselage attachments via the wing spar — of the Boeing 737-800 being converted into cargo aircraft in China.
These aircraft accumulated between 35,600 and 37,300 flight cycles. Since then, the aircraft manufacturer has provided all 737NG operators with detailed instructions for performing the inspections and reporting their results.
The Brazilian airline Gol has 11 Boeing 737NGs immobilized — to which are added the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft still grounded. That is 14% of the company's fleet made inoperative.
On a smaller scale, Southwest Airlines has also been affected. “During our inspections of the 737NGs that accumulated a high number of cycles, we did not find anomalies on the majority of our fleet, but we identified signs of cracking on two aircraft”, commented the company.
“A total of 810 inspections have been completed by airlines globally on their 737 NG fleets. It appears that 38 aircraft show clear signs of cracking on the elements involved”, said a spokesman for Boeing. These 38 single-aisle twin-jets will have to be repaired and their parts replaced.