FAA Orders Boeing 737NG Inspections
The US Federal Aviation Administration has issued an airworthiness directive (AD) to aircraft operators to inspect Boeing 737NG aircraft for structural cracks.
American Airlines Boeing 737-800
The order requires operators of some older 737NGs (Next Generation) to inspect the aircraft within seven days after Boeing found cracking on a small number of planes and reported them to the FAA.
The cracking was found on the connector between the 737’s wings and the fuselage known as a “pickle fork”.
The directive requires airlines to inspect US registered 737NGs in the -600, -700, -800 and -900 series. Aircraft with more than 30,000 flight cycles must be inspected within seven days, and those between 22,600 and 29,999 cycles must be inspected within the next 1,000 cycles.
Of the 1,911 737NGs in the US fleet, 165 will have to be inspected within seven days. Operators have to report the results of the inspections to the FAA.
“The inspection reports that are required by this AD will enable the manufacturer to obtain better insight into the nature, cause and extent of the cracking, and eventually to develop final action to address the unsafe condition,” the FAA said in the directive.
American, Delta, Southwest and United are major operators of Boeing 737NG aircraft. American has over 300 -800s, Delta has a mix of more than 200 -700, -800 and -900s, and United also has a mixed fleet of over 300 737s.
Southwest, the largest operator of Boeing 737NGs, has over 700 -700 and -800s in service.
The inspections are unconnected with the issues that have grounded the newer 737 MAX series of aircraft after two crashes killed a total of 346 people.