New Delhi: Fresh trouble for Boeing brewed on Friday as an inspection revealed structural cracks in more than three dozen of its planes. This raises a new safety concern for the company that is already dealing with two deadly crashes that involved a newer version of the same plane.
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Boeing said that airlines across the globe have scrutinised 810 planes after an order from US safety regulators. Of 810, 38 or 5 percent of the total require repairs, the investigation revealed.
Airlines have been asked to inspect Boeing 737 NG planes for cracking in a part that helps keep wings attached to the fuselage. The cracks have been found in a part called a pickle fork because of its shape. Cracking in that component was found recently in some 737s being converted from passenger use to cargo jets.
As of now, it is not clear why the pickle forks developed cracks. It is common for regulators to require inspection of certain components of aircraft in order to ascertain whether constant pressure and forces during flight could have caused metal fatigue. Investigations are carried out to examine whether there could have been a problem with design, materials, or the manufacturing process. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was working with international safety regulators to understand what caused the cracks to form. The repair work could take weeks.
Although Boeing declined to identify the airlines that found problems with the aircraft, Brazilian airline Gol said that it has grounded 11 planes, while US-based Southwest Airlines said that it has grounded two.
An FAA spokesperson was quoted as saying by AP that a "small number" of US-based planes have been removed from service. It has given Boeing seven days, ending Thursday, to inspect 737 NGs that had made at least 30,000 flights.