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Europe’s largest Boeing 737 operator Ryanair grounds 3 jets over cracks in wings & fuselage

Europe’s largest Boeing 737 operator Ryanair grounds 3 jets over cracks in wings & fuselage
Cracks found near the wings and fuselage of three Ryanair planes have led the low-cost airline to ground the jets from their all-Boeing 737 fleet just a week after more than 50 planes of the type were banned from flying globally.

Ireland-based Ryanair discovered cracks in the “pickle fork” structure on three of their Boeing 737NGs, according to the Guardian that saw the airline’s engineering logs. All the grounded jets are over 15 years old and are of the same model as the other 447 Boeing jets extensively flown by the carrier.

The airline, which has only recently recovered from an embarrassing “technical failure” that saw dozens of flights delayed across Europe, said that “this tiny number of findings” would not affect “our operations or our fleet availability.”

Cracks in the “pickle fork,” a metal structure that strengthens the connection between the hull and the wings, were first revealed on 737s in China. Shortly afterwards, the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) issued an urgent directive calling for urgent checks on all 737NGs that accumulated more than 30,000 flight cycles.

There are over 7,000 737NGs in service, of which 1,000 aircraft were checked by Boeing. Faults were discovered in 50 of them, leaving them grounded until the glitch is fixed.

The 737NG (Next Generation) model that is now under scrutiny is the predecessor to the infamous Boeing 737 MAX; 346 people died in two crashes, in Indonesia and Ethiopia, involving that model, and it has been grounded since March.

Both fatal accidents have similar causes and were attributed to a key safety system called MCAS which the aircraft maker installed in the MAX models without alerting pilots.

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