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(95,646 posts)
Thu Oct 31, 2019, 09:17 AM Oct 2019

Qantas grounds 737NG due to 'cracking'

Source: Buying Business Travel

Qantas has temporarily pulled one of its 737NG aircraft from service after discovering “cracking” near a wing.

Boeing issued a warning about the potential issue back in June, advising its customers to inspect the entire family of 737s, including the NG and Max versions, after discovering an “improper manufacturing process” on a part on the wings carried out by a supplier.

The potential fault affects an area near the “pickle fork”, which helps attach the wing to the plane, according to the manufacturer.

Regulators required airlines to inspect aircraft that had completed more than 30,000 take-offs and landings (or cycles) and those with more than 22,600 cycles to be checked within the next 1,000. Qantas said none of its 737s have reached that number.

Read more: https://buyingbusinesstravel.com/news/qantas-grounds-737ng-due-to-cracking/

15 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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(12,903 posts)
1. I think Boeing needs to just cut its losses & recall all the newer 737s.
Thu Oct 31, 2019, 09:18 AM
Oct 2019

Give airlines credit towards other models & eat the stock hit for a year or two


(95,646 posts)
2. They can't "give credit"...
Thu Oct 31, 2019, 09:45 AM
Oct 2019

...because they have no capacity for new alternative plane construction for probably 10 years. Either the planes fly or the airlines buy/lease older planes already in use, or they lose capacity.

Dennis Donovan

(18,770 posts)
4. The first thing they need to be is honest with themselves.
Thu Oct 31, 2019, 09:52 AM
Oct 2019

They screwed the pooch on the NextGen 737's redesigns. The original 737 was a robust aircraft that has flown millions of miles w/o many incidents.

They need to go back to Bill Allen's standards.


William McPherson "Bill" Allen (September 1, 1900 – October 28, 1985) was an American businessman in the aviation industry who served as the President of Boeing from 1945 to 1968.

Life and career
Born in Lolo, Montana, he attended the University of Montana, where he became a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He graduated in 1925 from Harvard Law School, and joined the Board of Boeing Air Transport in 1930 while remaining an employee of his Seattle law firm, Donworth, Todd & Higgins. A year later he joined the Board of Boeing Airplane Company as corporate counsel.

Following the death of Boeing president Philip G. Johnson in 1944, Chairman Claire Egtvedt was tasked with appointing his replacement. Feeling that none of the company's senior engineers had a sufficiently broad background to run the company, he turned to Bill Allen. Considering himself unqualified to run an engineering company, Allen at first declined the offer before finally accepting. Allen served as the president of the Boeing Company from September 1, 1945, until April 29, 1968. He also served as the chairman of the Boeing Company from 1968 through 1972. While he was president of Boeing, he made the famous decision in 1952 to "bet the company", when he authorized construction of the Boeing 367-80 and again when he authorized the launch of development of the Boeing 707. He also participated in launching other planes of renown, among them the Boeing 727, Boeing 737, and Boeing 747.

In 1965, Allen received the Vermilye Medal from The Franklin Institute.

In 1966, Allen asked Malcolm T. Stamper to spearhead production of the new 747 airplane on which the company's future was riding. This was a monumental engineering and management challenge, and included construction of the world's biggest factory in which to build the 747 at Everett, Washington, a plant which is the size of 40 football fields.

In 1971, Allen received the Tony Jannus Award for his distinguished contributions to commercial aviation.

In 1975, Allen was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame.

In 1975, Allen was one of the first four living members inducted into the Fortune magazine National Business Hall of Fame. In 2003 an article in Fortune by Jim Collins ranked Allen #2 among "The 10 Greatest CEOs of All Time."

In the last years of his life, Allen suffered from Alzheimer's disease. He died in Seattle on October 28, 1985 at the age of 85.

Allen is profiled in Sen. John McCain's and Mark Salter's 2007 book, Hard Call: Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People Who Made Them.



(12,903 posts)
7. Dont they make other models than the 737MAX; why couldnt they credit towards those?
Thu Oct 31, 2019, 11:07 AM
Oct 2019

Doesnt have to be a full credit, just SOMETHING.
Because this problem isnt going away & passengers wont fly them.


(8,747 posts)
12. I bet things would quickly change if the FAA...
Thu Oct 31, 2019, 06:19 PM
Oct 2019

Yanks the 737Max airworthiness certificate and orders them all scrapped.

Dennis Donovan

(18,770 posts)
3. About this "pickle fork" (had to look it up)
Thu Oct 31, 2019, 09:46 AM
Oct 2019

For those of us who do not work in aviation though it presents a question: what on earth is a pickle fork? The coverage of the story tells us it’s something to do with attaching the wing to the fuselage, but without a handy 737 to open up and take a look at we’re none the wiser.

Fortunately there’s a comprehensive description of one along with a review of wing attachment technologies from Boeing themselves, and it can be found in one of their patents. US9399508B2 is concerned with an active suspension system for wing-fuselage mounts and is a fascinating read in itself, but the part we are concerned with is a description of existing wing fixtures on page 12 of the patent PDF.

A cross-section of the aircraft wing fixing, in which we've highlighted the role of the pickle forks. (Boeing)

The pickle fork is an assembly so named because of its resemblance to the kitchen utensil, which attaches firmly to each side of the fuselage and has two prongs that extend below it where they are attached to the wing spar.

For the curious engineer with no aviation experience the question is further answered by the patent’s figure 2, which provides a handy cross-section. The other wing attachment they discuss involves the use of pins, leading to the point of the patented invention. Conventional wing fixings transmit the forces from the wing to the fuselage as a rigid unit, requiring the fuselage to be substantial enough to handle those forces and presenting a problem for designers of larger aircraft. The active suspension system is designed to mitigate this, and we’d be fascinated to hear from any readers in the comments who might be able to tell us more.

We think it’s empowering that a science-minded general public can look more deeply at a component singled out in a news report by digging into the explanation in the Boeing patent. We don’t envy the Boeing engineers in their task as they work to produce a replacement, and we hope to hear of their solution as it appears.


I remember my first ride on a jet airliner and was fascinated by the fact the wings would "flap" slightly. The "pickle fork" is part of the system, placed at the wing root, that allows for that necessary flexibility. Pickle forks are supposed to have an inherent flexibility, but should never crack.

Happy Hoosier

(7,633 posts)
6. Just a clarification...
Thu Oct 31, 2019, 09:56 AM
Oct 2019

If the part is made of aluminum (and I'd guess it is) then it WILL crack at some point. Aluminum is a metal that does not have a "fatigue limit." That means that with enough cycles, it will eventually develop fatigue fractures. The key is to design and manufacture the part so that the cycles associated with a fatigue fracture are never met during the service life of the part. But modelling this can be tricky and minor variations in manufacturing can dramatically affect this.


(595 posts)
8. This is not related to the 737 MAX, but the 737 NG which is an older plane
Thu Oct 31, 2019, 12:25 PM
Oct 2019

This is not big thing and happens to some aircraft made by both Boeing and Airbus, in that problems crop up from time to time in older aircraft, the problems are recognized, inspected and those with the problems are repaired. There are thousands of 737's in operation and very few have the problem. It is easy to inspect for and those that have the problem are grounded until fixed.


(36,753 posts)
10. The Airbus A321 is a vastly superior aircraft.
Thu Oct 31, 2019, 12:58 PM
Oct 2019

A320’s and A321’s have gotten me where I need to be thru all sorts of weather. One flight the wings were flapping like a Canada goose and we got there safe and sound.


(18,188 posts)
13. Freaks most folks out...
Thu Oct 31, 2019, 06:22 PM
Oct 2019

until they discover the wings are doing exactly what they're designed to do. Same with modern Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer aircraft.


(7,153 posts)
14. Update from DW (3 cracked Qantas planes now)
Fri Nov 1, 2019, 04:17 AM
Nov 2019

Qantas grounds Boeing 737s due to hairline cracks

Qantas Airways said on Friday it grounded three of its Boeing 737s over hairline cracks found in wing structures, but expected to have them flying again this year.

The hairline crack was found in one of eight bolts in the so-called pickle fork — a part which helps bind the wing to the fuselage.

There were calls from union leaders for Qantas to ground its entire 737 fleet until all checks were complete, but the airline said those were "completely irresponsible."

"Even when a crack is present, it does not immediately compromise the safety of the aircraft," said Qantas head of engineering Chris Snook.

The airline has been inspecting its aircraft following calls this month from the US Federal Aviation Administration for all airlines to check Boeing 737 NG planes that had completed more than 30,000 takeoff and landing cycles for cracking in a part that helps keep wings attached.

These are different from the 737 MAX jets, which were grounded worldwide earlier this year.

Nine planes of the NG type were grounded in South Korea this month, including five operated by Korean Air, according to authorities in Seoul. US carrier Southwest Airlines has taken three planes out of service due to the problem.
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