Qantas Boeing 737-800 VH-VXM featuring the new livery at Perth Airport. (Dylan Thomas)

On October 3 2019, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an airworthiness directive (AD) calling on operators of 737 Next Generation aircraft (737NG) to conduct inspections of the aircraft’s “pickle fork” that are part of the wing to fuselage join.

“The affected airplanes had accumulated between 35,578 and 37,329 total flight cycles”, the AD said. A flight cycle represented one takeoff and one landing.

For aircraft that had accumulated between 22,600 and 30,000 total flight cycles, the AD called for inspections to be conducted within the next 1,000 flight cycles. Aircraft with less than 22,600 total flight cycles did not have to be inspected.

On November 1, Qantas said it had completed the inspections of 33 of its 737-800 aircraft that had more than 22,600 and less than 30,000 total flight cycles, with three aircraft found to have hairline cracks on “one bolt out of eight bolts on that pickle fork structure”, Qantas domestic chief executive Andrew David told reporters in Sydney.

Virgin Australia has said previously it had completed checks on 19 of its 737-800s affected by the AD and found no cracks.

Overseas, there were about 50 aircraft that have been grounded after cracks were found in the “pickle fork” component, Agence France Presse reported.

Collected and summarized from the source below by Minh Pham