Boeing says up to 50 planes grounded globally over cracks

Boeing says up to 50 planes grounded globally over cracks

737NG boeing
A 737NG aircraft. (File photo: Boeing)

SYDNEY: Crisis-hit Boeing faced fresh safety concerns Thursday (Oct 31), as the firm admitted cracks were found in up to 50 of its popular 737NG planes following worldwide inspections.

The Boeing 737NG (short for Next Generation) is the name given to the 600, 700, 800, 900 series variants of the aircraft. It is the third generation of the 737, following the 300, 400, 500 series model. 

The NG is a precursor plane to the Boeing 737 MAX, which has been grounded since mid-March following the two deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg faced another round of tough questions on Wednesday from US lawmakers who accused the company of a "lack of candour" over the crashes.

Boeing had previously reported a problem with the model's "pickle fork" - a part which helps bind the wing to the fuselage - prompting US regulators to order immediate inspections of aircraft that had seen heavy use.

A company spokesperson on Thursday told AFP that so far around 1,000 planes worldwide had "reached the inspection threshold", with less than five per cent - or up to 50 jets globally - having "findings" that kept them grounded until repair.

A Singapore Airlines spokesperson told CNA on Friday that SilkAir's Boeing 737NG fleet was not affected. 

The US aviation authority this month ordered checks of Boeing 737NG planes that had flown more than 30,000 times.

That came after the company reported the "pickle fork", which helps connect the wing to the fuselage, could be prone to cracking.

Qantas said on Thursday it had found the fault in a more lightly used aircraft, one that had recorded fewer than 27,000 flights.

Source: CNA/AFP/rw/zl