Jakarta, Indonesia – Indonesian low-cost operator Lion Air has found structural cracks on the pickle forks of two Boeing 737 NG jets with fewer take-off and landing cycles than the inspection threshold pointed out by the US Federal Aviation Administration.
On Oct. 2, the FAA issued an airworthiness directive mandating inspections for Boeing 737 NG series jets with more than 30,000 take-off and landing cycles.
A few weeks later from the FAA’s directive, the Australian flag carrier Qantas announced that the engineers have encountered cracks on a plane with under 27,000 take-off and landing cycles.
This recent discovery of Lion Air could make it more likely the FAA will require airline operators to check 737 NG series jets with fewer than 22,600 take-off and landing cycles.
A pickle fork, on which structural cracks found, is a part that connects the wing structure to the aircraft’s body.
An FAA spokesperson said the agency had asked operators to report any cracks so it could evaluate whether it’s required to amend its inspection orders.
Lion Air’s 737 NGs with pickle fork cracks had fewer than 22,000 cycles and were now grounded to fix the cracks, a Lion Air spokesperson said.
Lion Air performed the checks even though they were not yet required, to ensure the security and safety of the flights, the Lion Air spokesperson added.
Polana Pramesti, the head of the Indonesian civil aviation regulator said that there were no plans yet to extend the checks beyond the threshold stated in the FAA’s directive.