Qantas has grounded a third 737-800, this time adding VH-ZXF to the list of aircraft with pickle fork cracks in the wing to fuselage link structure. This brings to 50 the number grounded globally.
33 of the 75 Qantas737-800’s have been removed from service for cracks found well below the Boeing advised 30,000 hours: these are under 22,600.
The pickle fork is one part of the wing to superstructure link and it’s failure is unlikely to cause a wing to detach. However you can never be entirely sure and nobody knows how far the defects may have spread until further investigation is carried out.
Out of an abundance of caution it’s wiser to keep the aircraft out of service until fixed.
Advisories point out that a loss of control is possible during a rough landing or turbulence.
In any event this is not good news for the 737 or Boeing – the last thing they need is another major issue around the same aircraft type.
Meanwhile the Australian Engineers are adamant that with insufficient information and the original advisory clearly being inadequate (stating 30,000 hrs), caution should ground all aircraft until inspected.
Qantas deny this is necessary.