B738 'pickle fork' crack sees aircraft withdrawn

Melburnian1

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3/75 = four per cent of the QF B738 fleet, so still slightly under what seems to be the global airline average of five per cent adversely affected.

A statistician might suggest that four or five would be within the probability range.

This must mean flight cancellations at busier times, such as Friday PM peak periods when normally aircraft and seat utilisation across the fleet would be high (although not identical on every Friday, as this is not a month when there are huge numbers of highly patronised sporting events.)

AJ (is he on leave?) still has yet to say a single word about this matter, leaving it to others who are far from household names.
 
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3/75 = four per cent of the QF B738 fleet, so still slightly under what seems to be the global airline average of five per cent adversely affected.

A statistician might suggest that four or five would be within the probability range.

This must mean flight cancellations at busier times, such as Friday PM peak periods when normally aircraft and seat utilisation across the fleet would be high (although not identical on every Friday, as this is not a month when there are huge numbers of highly patronised sporting events.)

AJ (is he on leave?) still has yet to say a single word about this matter, leaving it to others who are far from household names.

They inspected 33 planes so far, so that's 12% of the inspected. That being said, the other 42 lower cycle ones are less likely to have cracks.
 

Melburnian1

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He’s probably trying to run an airline, leaving it to others such as NP to discuss the merits of pickle forks.

But safety is #1. Rain Man.

Analogies are imperfect, but it has similarities to a food manufacturer whose products have to be recalled due to salmonella. The company would usually have its CEO issue a statement about how products were immediately recalled and how it'll work with regulators to minimise/eliminate a recurrence.

QF as a company has long traded on its reputation for safety, so when an adverse event occurs, the CEO ought appear and take media questions, not hide.

Both 'The Australian' and Nine Group ('The Age' etc) have this story about the third aircraft being withdrawn at the top of their respective websites. It's news.
 
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But safety is #1. Rain Man.

Analogies are imperfect, but it has similarities to a food manufacturer whose products have to be recalled due to salmonella. The company would usually have its CEO issue a statement about how products were immediately recalled and how it'll work with regulators to minimise/eliminate a recurrence.

QF as a company has long traded on its reputation for safety, so when an adverse event occurs, the CEO ought appear and take media questions, not hide.

I think AJ is quite busy with other airline matters this week... 😉

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jb747

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I don't understand why you think any involvement by AJ is necessary. The head of engineering has made a comment, and he'd be in a position to know. Joyce has zero knowledge of engineering, so why would you want to see his lips moving in relation to it. As a generalisation, any involvement by a CEO means you're being lied to, so perhaps I prefer his silence.

Basically this cracking exists (or will exist) in every 737 NG in service in the world. When they have zero hours they probably have no cracking, and by 50,000 cycles it most likely exists in most of them. Now that it's known to be an issue, it will be specifically looked for as the aircraft age. It's really only an issue now because it wasn't expected.

All aircraft are subject to cracking. It's something that is looked for in the major services. At this stage it looks to be affecting about 5% of the 737 NGs. The biggest issue is probably going to be getting hold of enough replacement parts.

There will not be multiple 'production lines' set up to do these repairs. Airlines themselves, or the major servicing people will do them...as they do for all other fixes.
 

oz_mark

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Here's a media release


Qantas has completed precautionary inspections of thirty-three 737NG aircraft, checking for hairline cracks that have appeared in some high cycle aircraft worldwide.


The cracks relate to the ‘pickle fork’ structure, which is located between the wing and fuselage. Qantas brought forward these precautionary checks by up to seven months and completed them within seven days.


Of the 33 of Qantas’ 737 aircraft that required inspection, three were found to have a hairline crack in the pickle fork structure. These aircraft have been removed from service for repair.


The aircraft had all completed around 27,000 cycles. Any aircraft with more than 22,600 cycles was inspected, in line with advice from regulators.


Qantas will minimise any customer impact from having these aircraft temporarily out of service.


Qantas is working with Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Boeing to resolve this issue, which involves some complex repair work. All three aircraft are expected to return to service before the end of the year.


CEO of Qantas Domestic, Andrew David said: “As people would expect with Qantas, we’ve gone above what was required to check our aircraft well ahead of schedule.


“We would never fly an aircraft that wasn’t safe. Even where these hairline cracks are present they’re not an immediate risk, which is clear from the fact the checks were not required for at least seven months.


“Unfortunately, there were some irresponsible comments from one engineering union yesterday, which completely misrepresented the facts. Those comments were especially disappointing given the fantastic job our engineers have done to inspect these aircraft well ahead of schedule, and the priority they give to safety every day of the week,” added Mr David.


Qantas will continue to monitor aircraft that are in scope of the airworthiness directive as inspections fall due.
 

RooFlyer

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I don't understand why you think any involvement by AJ is necessary.

I guess we are so used to hearing him speak up on all sorts of issues ( including airline related) that when the safety of his airline is being questioned in the media ( rightly or wrongly) then a statement by the CEO might be expected. 😶
 
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The aircraft had all completed around 27,000 cycles. Any aircraft with more than 22,600 cycles was inspected, in line with advice from regulators.

That's interesting that the aircraft with the cracks had only a few more cycles than the inspection minimum. I wonder if it wouldn't hurt to keep on inspecting, going backward in age, as I'm sure the number of cycles at which cracks appear can't be a totally exact science?
 

moa999

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That's interesting that the aircraft with the cracks had only a few more cycles

4000+ cycles.
Or about another 2-3 years flying.

Good to see Andrew David has called out Purvinas for being irresponsible.

I suspect many of his members are none to plussed hearing calls to ground the fleet when they had already inspected most of the aircraft, a fact that should have been known to Purvinas.
 
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I did enjoy seeing the betoota come out with the scoop on the “third crack” yesterday evening before the actual announcement this morning.

(I’ve not linked the “joke” article since it may be inappropriate to the topic at hand)
 

Melburnian1

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In recent months there have been many flight cancellations by all the major domestic airlines, but QF on routes like MEL - SYD has been as high as 8.3 per cent of its schedule being canned in at least one month.

On Friday 1 November 2019, QF418, the 0900 hours MEL - SYD was cancelled. So was QF612, the 1010 hours MEL - BNE and QF816, the 1015 hours MEL - CBR.

QF812, the 1325 hours MEL - CBR has also got the chop, as has QF2285, teh mid afternoon 1520 hours MEL down to LST.

The 1530 hours MEL - SYD (QF444) is another that has been rescinded. QF681 (1555 hours MEL - ADL) is also not running, and nor is QF626, the 1610 hours MEL - BNE.

QF474 (1815 hours MEL - SYD) has also been cancelled, as has QF464, the scheduled 1930 hours on the same route.

These cancellations may be to do with the blustery weather in MEL and consequent restriction to one runway, but I wonder if any are due to the B738 shortage? Not all above, of course, were scheduled to be operated by B738s.
 
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Melburnian1

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I don't understand why you think any involvement by AJ is necessary. The head of engineering has made a comment, and he'd be in a position to know. Joyce has zero knowledge of engineering, so why would you want to see his lips moving in relation to it. As a generalisation, any involvement by a CEO means you're being lied to, so perhaps I prefer his silence...

No disagreement on the last point, but the public face of large organisations, by and large, is their CEOs, rightly or wrongly, and as one other suggested, AJ makes comments on all sorts of issues (airline and non-airline related) so it gives me the impression he's run for the hills at 1000 kmh rather than come out and face the music. Almost as if he never wants to be associated with any (actual or perceived) negativity.

CASA is happy as the regulator, but the media prominence to this unexpected occurrence (something you and I daresay many others don't like, as you regard it as sensationalism) has ensured that at least in the short term, this is a public relations failure by QF.

If AJ has such 'pull' with sections of the travelling public, then having him appear and state 'we've tackled this problem by doing more than Boeing Co or regulator(s) require us to, and we'll fix the problem on the three identified aircraft') would restore the association between this airline's brand and that hidden, but a given, emphasis on 'safety.'

In contrast, the head of engineering (a long winded title) has zero public recognition, unlike the face of AJ.
 

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