RYANAIR has grounded at least three of its Boeing 737 NG planes over a cracking issue that’s affecting airlines around the world.
Since the beginning of last month, around 50 planes owned by airlines around the world have been grounded.
The cracking issue relates to the “pickle fork” – a part that attaches the plane’s fuselage, or body, to the wing structure and manages forces.
US regulators FAA said that the cracking “could adversely affect the structural integrity of the airplane and result in loss of control of the airplane.”
Ryanair, who own 450 Boeing 737 NG planes, were among the airlines inspecting their aircraft.
A spokesperson for the airline told Sun Online Travel at the time: “We are midway through the first part of this mandatory check program and don’t expect it will have any impact upon our fleet or operations.”
But now the airline has been forced to ground three of its jets, which are all over 15 years old, according to the Guardian.
Two of the aircraft are in a plane repair centre in the US while one is stored at London Stansted the paper reported.
Ryanair said this does not affect their operation.
In a statement to Sun Online Travel, the airline said: “This morning’s report on the “pickle fork” issue in The Guardian newspaper is rubbish.
“Ryanair has already inspected over 70 of its oldest aircraft in full compliance with the Airworthiness Directive, and our rate of findings is less than the industry wide 5% confirmed by Boeing recently.
“Boeing are carrying out these repairs on behalf of Ryanair currently.”
How to check if you’re travelling on Boeing 737 NG
SeatGuru has a free tool that passengers can use to check whether they’re flying on a Boeing 737 NG jet.
It’s easy to use – all you need to do is to input the airline you’re flying with, the date you’re travelling on and the flight number if you know it.
Even if you don’t know your flight number, you can still use the tool – you just need to put in your departure airport and destination instead.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that airlines will sometimes change the aircraft they use at the last minute for operational reasons.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that not all 737 NG aircraft are affected.
The airline said that the grounding of the planes affected won’t impact its flights “because the airline has moved to its winter schedule from the end of October”.
Ryanaid spokesperson added: “Ryanair will continue to inspect the remainder of its fleet, in full compliance with the Airworthiness Directive, and we are confident that the tiny number of pickle fork cracks, if any, will not affect either Ryanair’s fleet, its flights, or its schedules”.
The 737 NG is the third-generation model of 737 and is the version before the now-grounded 737 MAX, which is not impacted by the cracking issue.
A spokesperson for Boeing previously told Sun Online Travel: “Boeing is actively working with customers that have airplanes in their fleets with inspection findings to develop a repair plan, and to provide parts and technical support as necessary.
“Boeing regrets the impact this issue is having on our 737NG customers worldwide and we are working around the clock to provide the support needed to return all airplanes to service as soon as possible.
“This issue does not affect any 737 MAX airplanes or the P-8.”
Boeing 737 Max jets are still grounded after Ethiopia Airlines crash earlier this year.
There had been plans to reintroduce the model to service earlier this year, but it has been pushed back.
Several airlines have now pushed back flights scheduled on the Max jets until next year.