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Cracking Pickle Forks: The Newest Safety Issue Plaguing Boeing

Cracking Pickle Forks: The Newest Safety Issue Plaguing Boeing
Jackie Reddy

Q3 has not been great for Boeing. In the wake of the MAX tragedies, very scrutinous attention is being paid to the build quality at Boeing, and several incidents have made the headlines including a 767-300 that burst into flames, a 787-8 that rained dangerous debris over Rome, and “exploding” doors on its 777x. Just as Boeing is working to return the 737 MAX to the skies, a safety issue has been uncovered on some of its 737 Next Generation jets. It’s reported that cracked pickle forks have been found on an unknown number of the craft. The flaw has been raised to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

While aircraft manufacturer Boeing is still in the process of attempting to return the 737 MAX to active duty, a flaw has also been found on some of its 737 Next Generation craft. According to KOMO News, cracked pickle forks⁠—which anchor the fuselage to the wing⁠—have been detected in several planes of this type during the course of a recent inspection.

These pickle forks, reports the outlet, are meant to endure over 90,000 takeoffs and landings. If this part fails while a craft is in operation, “dire results” could be expected. The Next Generation craft on which the flaw was uncovered was reported to have logged just 35,000 takeoffs and landings.

A retired Boeing engineer anonymously offered their comments on the findings to the outlet, saying, “It’s unusual to have a crack in the pickle fork. It’s not designed to crack that way at all. Period.” According to a second unidentified source, this issue has been reported by the manufacturer to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This cracking issue has now been found on additional planes, but it’s not quite clear how many have been affected.

In a statement to the news outlet, a spokesperson for Boeing said, “Safety and quality are our top priorities. Boeing has notified the FAA and been in contact with 737NG operators about a cracking issue discovered on a small number of airplanes undergoing modifications. No in-service issues have been reported. Over the coming days, we will work closely with our customers to implement a recommended inspection plan for certain airplanes in the fleet.”

“This issue does not affect any 737 MAX airplanes or the P-8 Poseidon,” they added.

[Featured Image: Boeing]

View Comments (7)


  1. cmd320

    September 30, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    The last good product Boeing designed was the 777. It seems everything that has come after it has been plagued by poor engineering and poor build quality.

  2. Boggie Dog

    October 1, 2019 at 9:39 am

    Would be interested to understand the differences of the “pickle forks” used on the 737 NG and other models of the 737. A catastrophic failure of this part would likely result in wing separation. Not a good ending for anyone on the aircraft.

  3. Long Zhiren

    October 1, 2019 at 11:07 am

    737-NG has been around since before the 777. 737-NG is basically every 737-600, -700, -800 & -900. They have sizable operational representation in every US domestic airline. They’ve been in the sky since as early as 1998. It’s the generation that 737-MAX is supposed to supersede.

  4. alexmyboy

    October 2, 2019 at 5:16 am

    Special forks for pickles, wow! First!

  5. jrpallante

    October 2, 2019 at 6:33 am

    Thanks, Long Zhiren. That is some useful and relevant information that was conspicuously absent from the article.

  6. Austin787

    October 2, 2019 at 7:13 am

    Wow. Boeing is in a pickle.

  7. azmojo

    October 2, 2019 at 7:44 am

    A large part of the reason why everything post 777 has been shoddy can probably be attributed to all of the offshoring and outsourcing of not only Boeing employees, the offshoring done by the suppliers to these aircraft. They think all of the new grad engineers our of Mumbai can design stuff just as good as the seasoned engineers in Seattle at a fraction of the cost, but management is blinded by the savings.

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