The union for Australian aircraft mechanics has called for Qantas to ground its entire fleet of B737 NG aircraft after finding crack in the pickle fork of two of their aircraft. Upwards of approximately 50 B737 NGs globally have already been found to have cracks in the pickle fork section, which helps attach the wing to the fuselage.
Qantas has said it will immediately inspect their 33 B737 NGs after discovering the cracked structural piece in two aircraft during routine scheduled maintenance. “Even when a crack is present, it does not immediately compromise the safety of the aircraft,” a Qantas statement says. “We would never operate an aircraft unless it was completely safe to do so.”
The FAA ordered inspections of the piece last month on aircraft with more than 30,000 flights.
Qantas reportedly has no B737 NG with more than 30,000 flights and reported that the aircraft they found with the crack had fewer than 27,000.
“The area where the crack is takes the load off the wing and all the fuel it carries,” Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) head, Steven Purvinas, says. “These aircraft should not be flying.”
The FAA’s AD can be seen here.