Korean Airlines has joined a number of other Boeing 737 NG operators by grounding 13 of its jets due to pickle fork cracks.
The South Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (MOLIT) inspected 100 737NGs that are currently operating with the country’s airlines and subsequently found cracks in the pickle forks of 13 aircraft.
Nine of the aircraft had carried out more than 30,000 takeoff and landing cycles. The remaining four aircraft are between 20,000 to 30,000 flight cycles, says the South Korean ministry.
Boeing sent an engineering team to the country on Oct. 31st. at the request of MOLIT to repair the affected 737NGs. The team is expected to finish the repair job by early 2020.
South Korean carriers operate 153 Boeing 737NG jets, primarily the 737-800.
The pickle fork is a structural element that connects the wing structure to the aircraft’s fuselage. The cracks on these parts can be a threat to the structural integrity of the aircraft if not rectified.
Global regulators have warned airlines to inspect the 737NG aircraft with more than 30,000 flight cycles. However, the inspections have revealed cracks on certain aircraft with less than 30,000 takeoff and landing cycles.
South Korean airlines joined several other airlines in the Asia-Pacific region to ground some of their 737NGs due to the pickle fork cracks.
Qantas has grounded three 737-800. Indonesian carriers Sriwijaya Air (two) and Garuda Indonesia (one) have grounded three aircraft in total.
Another Indonesian operator Lion Air has also reported structural cracks on two 737NG jets in its fleet with less than 22,000 flight cycles.