By Syann Thompson
Tribune Staff Reporter
BAHAMASAIR has been alerted to check a Boeing 737 in its fleet after the Federal Aviation Authority alerted airlines worldwide of the possibility of cracks between the wing and the fuselage.
The FAA ordered the checks and Ryanair, a budget airline headquartered in Dublin, has already withdrawn three of its aircraft from service for repairs after finding cracks. Older generations of the series with more than 30,000 takeoffs and landings must be checked. Bahamasair has one Boeing 737-700 in its fleet – but it has not yet reached the 30,000 total.
The FAA said about five percent of the older aircraft flown worldwide may have a crack in the pickle fork which attaches the fuselage to the wing.
It is unclear if Boeing, the maker of the aircraft, would have directly notified Bahamasair of these concerns with the older 737 series.
Bahamasair managing director Tracy Cooper told The Tribune that their Boeing 737 is not up for inspection as the aircraft does not have 30,000 takeoffs and landings. However, in early 2020, the 737 will reach its quota and be inspected at that time. Mr Cooper is not worried as the aircraft has had earlier inspections and was deemed safe.
Mr Cooper said: “Bahamasair operates only one of the Boeing Next Generation (NG) aircraft, a B737-700 series. Although this aircraft falls within the inspection requirements mandated by the US Federal Aviation Administration, the inspection threshold is not yet reached. The aircraft will be inducted for these inspections during scheduled maintenance in 1st quarter 2020. Based on inspection times given, the aircraft is considered to be safe in its operations.”
The Bahamasair Boeing 737-700, purchased in 2018, was once operated by China’s Lucky Air and Alaska Airline. The Tribune understands that the airline had previous plans this year to purchase additional Boeing 737s to grow its fleet.
Reports show that the cracks on the older 737s were only discovered due to Boeing re-testing its new 737 Max jet, in hopes to relaunch the new aircraft. The 737 Max jet has been controversial as, during the initial release, two of the aircraft crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
Boeing admitted to US aviation officials that they are continuing to investigate the cause of the cracking and determine if new models of the Boeing 737s need to be checked as well.