An urgent worldwide inspection of Boeing 737 NG models has found that some 36 aircraft had cracks in a structure connecting the plane’s wings to its fuselage. The US’s Southwest Airlines and Brazil’s GOL have grounded 13 jets.
The Next Generation or NG model is an older but nonetheless popular version of the 737, with hundreds of the jetliners operated by airlines worldwide. The inspection ordered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) examined 686 planes that made more than 35,000 flights cumulatively, and found 5 percent of them had cracks in their pickle fork, a component that helps attach the wing and serves as a primary load bearing element.
“This condition could adversely affect the structural integrity of the airplane and result in loss of control of the airplane,” the FAA said in September, when it announced the inspection order.
So far only two airlines reported grounding the planes in question: Southwest Airlines had two faulty jets, while GOL had 11.
“Boeing regrets the impact this issue is having on GOL, as well as our 737 NG customers worldwide,” the airplane maker said in a statement. “We are actively working with our customers with inspection findings to procure parts, develop repair and replace plans, and provide all the technical support needed to safely return every impacted airplane to service as soon as possible.”
The company is still working on fixing its 737 Max, whose faulty flight control systems led to two fatal crashes a year ago. Multiple airlines ditched using the plane after the defect was discovered.