Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Airlines and Mileage Programs > Alaska Airlines | Mileage Plan
Reload this Page >

Unexpected 'cracking' found on critical Boeing 737NG equipment

Unexpected 'cracking' found on critical Boeing 737NG equipment

Old Sep 27, 19, 6:14 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Seattle, WA
Programs: Alaska Airlines
Posts: 634
Unexpected 'cracking' found on critical Boeing 737NG equipment

Obviously impacts more than just Alaska Air, but given that most the fleet is made up of 737-6, 737-7, 737-8, or 737-9's.... and this sounds like a critical failure point not meant to be replaced during a plane's normal life cycle... could be a big impact depending on the findings.

https://komonews.com/news/local/excl...37ng-equipment

Boeing engineers and safety investigators are scrambling to find out how many Boeing 737NGs have cracked 'pickle forks' after finding several in the jets. A pickle fork is the part that helps attach a plane's fuselage to its wing structure. It helps manage the stress, torque and aerodynamic forces that bend the connection between the wings and the body of the jet.

[…]

During a recent inspection, workers found a severely cracked pickle fork on a Boeing 737NG. The plane is relatively young, having logged approximately 35,000 flight cycles when the damage was found.

[…]

Another source tells us Boeing quickly reported the issue with the single plane to the FAA last week, and now more planes with similar cracking have been found.

[…]

"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," a Boeing spokesperson wrote.

The FAA also confirmed the inspections, telling KOMO, "The FAA will require operators of certain Boeing 737NG jetliners to conduct inspections for structural cracks. Boeing notified the agency of the matter after it discovered the cracks while conducting modifications on a heavily used aircraft. Subsequent inspections uncovered similar cracks in a small number of additional planes. The FAA will instruct operators to conduct specific inspections, make any necessary repairs and to report their findings to the agency immediately."

[…]

A government source says that until the scope of the problem can be understood, it's difficult to tell what corrective actions will need to be taken. It could be anything from visual inspections of all 737NGs, or more unlikely, a grounding of the planes for further inspections. Investigators are deeply concerned about the cracks developing so early on in a the plane's lifespan.

[…]

If a slight crack is discovered during a routine inspection, engineers run a scenario for how much they expect it to grow under typical conditions, then re-inspect at prescribed intervals. "A crack like this is similar to when you see a crack in a coffee cup handle," the retired engineer tells us. "You can likely continue using the cup several more times, but there's always a risk that handle will break off and hot coffee will wind up in your lap."

Last edited by dayone; Sep 29, 19 at 6:14 am Reason: Edited paste of complete article to comply with FT Rule 9 ("give a brief, one-to-three paragraph summary").
nearlysober is offline  
Old Sep 28, 19, 5:34 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Between BLI & PAE.
Programs: AS MVP Gold, One Pass, SPG, Marriot Rewards,Sky Miles, AMEX Miles
Posts: 1,270
Very disturbing news. I saw this on a BBC website earlier today.
can anyone advise as to how many NG jets AS has?
Tail numbers?
we fly to Kona this week. I get jittery anyway flying that far over water, this just adds to my anxiety.
I am afraid to tell my wife as she’ll just wa;t to blow the trip off.
JPat is offline  
Old Sep 28, 19, 5:36 pm
  #3  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: SEA (the REAL Washington); still teleworking with the other Washington (DCA area)
Programs: DL PM 1.3MM; AS MVPG 75K
Posts: 16,344
all of ‘em ... -700s, -800s, -900s
jrl767 is offline  
Old Sep 28, 19, 6:48 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: SFO
Programs: AS and if I can't avoid it, UA. IHG Spire Amb, CET 7*
Posts: 2,518
Originally Posted by JPat View Post
Very disturbing news. I saw this on a BBC website earlier today.
can anyone advise as to how many NG jets AS has?
Tail numbers?
we fly to Kona this week. I get jittery anyway flying that far over water, this just adds to my anxiety.
I am afraid to tell my wife as she’ll just wa;t to blow the trip off.
Originally Posted by jrl767 View Post
all of ‘em ... -700s, -800s, -900s
Exactly, the ramifications are significant to AS. Without running the #'s, I'm guessing only WN has a higher fleet %. (there's obviously being near 100% when you subtract the MAX, fwiw)

https://www.alaskaair.com/content/tr...o/our-aircraft
NoLaGent is offline  
Old Sep 28, 19, 7:06 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: PDX
Programs: AS MVP Gold 75K
Posts: 1,633
Originally Posted by NoLaGent View Post
Exactly, the ramifications are significant to AS. Without running the #'s, I'm guessing only WN has a higher fleet %. (there's obviously being near 100% when you subtract the MAX, fwiw)

https://www.alaskaair.com/content/tr...o/our-aircraft
Edit: I misread you at first. AS does indeed have the highest fleet percentage of 737 NGs after WN (UA is not far behind). AA, UA, and DL all have more by number.
be_rettSEA likes this.
RAD_PDX is offline  
Old Sep 28, 19, 8:40 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: SFO
Programs: AS MVP Gold / Marriott Bonvoy(age) Titanium Elite, IHG Platinum, WN A+/CP, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 337
The article states highly utilized fleets....I am suspecting Southwest where these cracks were found (north of 35000 cycles). I am curious if we will ever know the operator of the subject airframes, they said they found.

But given the extra scrutiny on Boeing....i would suspect a routine inspection program to be in place as soon as possible.
isaac.chambers is offline  
Old Sep 28, 19, 11:02 pm
  #7  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: SEA (the REAL Washington); still teleworking with the other Washington (DCA area)
Programs: DL PM 1.3MM; AS MVPG 75K
Posts: 16,344
Originally Posted by isaac.chambers View Post
The article states highly utilized fleets....I am suspecting Southwest where these cracks were found (north of 35000 cycles). I am curious if we will ever know the operator of the subject airframes, they said they found.
could also be a non-US carrier with a high-frequency, mainly short- to medium-range, operation such as Ryanair
Originally Posted by NoLaGent View Post
Exactly, the ramifications are significant to AS. Without running the #'s, I'm guessing only WN has a higher fleet %.
in raw numbers, both AA and DL have close to 200 NGs
Originally Posted by isaac.chambers View Post
But given the extra scrutiny on Boeing....i would suspect a routine inspection program to be in place as soon as possible.
I would expect a more immediate inspection requirement (probably within a single-digit number of flight hours) ... depending on results, the interval for recurring inspections would perhaps be 50-100 flight cycles
jrl767 is offline  
Old Sep 29, 19, 5:39 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: RTW
Programs: Delta Platinum, Alaska MVP, TAP Gold
Posts: 304
I love the words the media uses for every article, including this one (DIRE SITUATIONS!!! One person said they were PANICKED!!!! THE WINGS MIGHT FALL OFF!!!)
And we keep taking the (click)bait and reading it.

And then, the quick reaction from the public into outrage/concern.
'I am VERY CONCERNED. I am FURIOUS!'

It's hyperbole on both ends, and the only person getting anything out of it is whatever media outline comes out with more sensational drivel.

--
Some part fatigued differently than expected.
So, engineers look at it, figure out a fix, and then airlines carry out a fix.

This typing of testing and discovery happens every day, in every industry, all over the world.
The only reason this is 'news' is because someone could make a dollar trying to scare uneducated and overwhelmed people for 30 seconds.

-
So, no JPat , I wouldn't cancel my vacation because companies have teams of engineers that are testing and improving their product all the time....
I might suggest you unsubscribe from new outlets that post drivel like this though.
Might lower your anxiety level more than worrying about a short 5 hours overwater on a plane that does that trip to Hawaii and back hundreds of times a day, and has for the past ~20 years now....
WestCoastPDX is offline  
Old Sep 29, 19, 9:18 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: SFO
Programs: AS MVP Gold / Marriott Bonvoy(age) Titanium Elite, IHG Platinum, WN A+/CP, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 337
Originally Posted by WestCoastPDX View Post
I love the words the media uses for every article, including this one (DIRE SITUATIONS!!! One person said they were PANICKED!!!! THE WINGS MIGHT FALL OFF!!!)
And we keep taking the (click)bait and reading it.

And then, the quick reaction from the public into outrage/concern.
'I am VERY CONCERNED. I am FURIOUS!'

It's hyperbole on both ends, and the only person getting anything out of it is whatever media outline comes out with more sensational drivel.

--
Some part fatigued differently than expected.
So, engineers look at it, figure out a fix, and then airlines carry out a fix.

This typing of testing and discovery happens every day, in every industry, all over the world.
The only reason this is 'news' is because someone could make a dollar trying to scare uneducated and overwhelmed people for 30 seconds.

-
So, no JPat , I wouldn't cancel my vacation because companies have teams of engineers that are testing and improving their product all the time....
I might suggest you unsubscribe from new outlets that post drivel like this though.
Might lower your anxiety level more than worrying about a short 5 hours overwater on a plane that does that trip to Hawaii and back hundreds of times a day, and has for the past ~20 years now....
agreed....if you are worried about the 5 hours overwater in an aircraft......id be terrified of the ride TO the airport first. The article can score views and take advantage of the Boeing scrutiny....

This is akin of the United dragging incident.....an aquaintance of mine ranted on FB that every flight should have 10 seats open all the time just in case.....and he also wants to fly around the world for under 500 dollars in F class.....*rolls eyes* Do you know how anything about economics or how much things really cost?
isaac.chambers is offline  
Old Sep 29, 19, 7:02 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 60
You can call it however you want, its not helping Boeing's image, especially at this point in time.
chrisfwm is offline  
Old Sep 29, 19, 7:57 pm
  #11  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: LAX
Posts: 10,007
Originally Posted by WestCoastPDX View Post
I ..

Some part fatigued differently than expected.
So, engineers look at it, figure out a fix, and then airlines carry out a fix.

This typing of testing and discovery happens every day, in every industry, all over the world.
...
Yep thats exactly what happened with max - boeing identified tested and repaired the problem while maintaining safety standard... oh wait...

Even if the recent story is overblown it is a direct result of deteriorated trust in boeing product and it is quite unfortunate...
azepine00 is offline  
Old Sep 29, 19, 8:19 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Programs: Alaska MVP Gold
Posts: 812
Originally Posted by chrisfwm View Post
You can call it however you want, its not helping Boeing's image, especially at this point in time.
And if I were employed by or were a contractor for Boeing, I might be concerned about their image. As a flyer, I definitely am not.
WillTravel4Food likes this.
Calculon is offline  
Old Sep 30, 19, 8:53 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Programs: AS MVP Gold 75K, Marriott Lifetime Titanium
Posts: 1,106
This is a normal event in the world of aircraft manufacturing. A part ages/fails along a line different from the designed path, and that results in an Airworthiness Directive being published to remedy the issue. This is the system detecting what the system was designed to detect.
WillTravel4Food is online now  
Old Sep 30, 19, 10:48 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,805
Originally Posted by RAD_PDX View Post
Edit: I misread you at first. AS does indeed have the highest fleet percentage of 737 NGs after WN (UA is not far behind). AA, UA, and DL all have more by number.
Both Ryanair have a higher fleet percentage of 737NGs (100% of their active fleet), and so do WestJet. (96% of their active fleet); than Alaska Air.
CZBB is offline  
Old Sep 30, 19, 11:34 am
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Seattle, WA
Programs: Alaska Airlines
Posts: 634
Originally Posted by WillTravel4Food View Post
This is a normal event in the world of aircraft manufacturing. A part ages/fails along a line different from the designed path, and that results in an Airworthiness Directive being published to remedy the issue. This is the system detecting what the system was designed to detect.
The process of inspection, finding faults, and providing fixes certainly might be normal, but a part that was designed to last the lifetime of a plan showing signs of failure 1/3rd of the way - that doesn't seem normal. Obviously I'm not thinking wings are going to start snapping off planes any time soon and I"m not at all worried about flying on a 737NG.

I was just more thinking, if this does require a repair, what the impact to the fleet & scheduling might be for AS since they fly so many 737NGs. This doesn't sound like a part that's usually replaced or repaired, I doubt it's simple "pull it out and plug a new one in" kinda job.
channa, notquiteaff, JPat and 2 others like this.
nearlysober is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: