Australian airline Qantas has grounded one of its Boeing 737 NG airplanes after it discovered “cracking” in one section of the aircraft.
According to Qantas, other airlines have decided to inspect their 737 NG planes after Boeing admitted that an area near the wing of the airplane may be prone to cracking. Up to 50 planes worldwide have been grounded due to the issue.
Qantas said: “Even when a crack is present, it does not immediately compromise the safety of the aircraft. We would never operate an aircraft unless it was completely safe to do so.”
Boeing said cracks have been discovered in the “pickle fork”, a section of the aircraft that helps attach the wing. Last September, US regulators have ordered all 737 NG airplanse that had undertaken more than 30,000 flights to be inspected.
Qantas claimed that none of its 737 NG aircraft has had over 30,000 flights and that the plane where a crack was discovered had made fewer than 27,000 flights.
The issue surrounding the 737 NG airplane comes after Boeing was forced to ground its newer 737 Max model in March due to two fatal crashes. The accidents, which happened in Indonesia in October 2018 and in Ethiopia in March this year, have resulted in the death of 346 people.
Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg admitted on Wednesday to US lawmakers that the firm had made mistakes in relation to the 737 Max fleet and the legislators, in turn, accused the company of rushing the approval process of the aircraft. The 737 NG is a precursor to the 737 Max.
The Australian airline has announced that it would inspect 33 planes in its fleet for the same issue by Friday but it did not confirm or deny a report that a crack was found in a second plane.
Qantas labeled the the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association’s call for the airline to ground its entire 737 NG fleet as “alarmist”.