Qantas has temporarily pulled one of its 737NG aircraft from service after discovering “cracking” near a wing.

Boeing issued a warning about the potential issue back in June, advising its customers to inspect the entire family of 737s, including the NG and Max versions, after discovering an “improper manufacturing process” on a part on the wings carried out by a supplier.

The potential fault affects an area near the “pickle fork”, which helps attach the wing to the plane, according to the manufacturer.

Regulators required airlines to inspect aircraft that had completed more than 30,000 take-offs and landings (or cycles) and those with more than 22,600 cycles to be checked within the next 1,000. Qantas said none of its 737s have reached that number.

Qantas said inspections on 33 of its 737s are due to be completed by tomorrow – “months ahead of schedule” – and that it would “never operate an aircraft unless it was completely safe to do so”.

However, Qantas has advised that an example of cracking was found on an aircraft with only 27,000 cycles. The plane was promptly pulled from service for repairs.

Aviation union the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association called for the airline to ground all of its 737NGs, but Qantas labelled the statement “alarmist”.

The news comes after US lawmakers accused Boeing of putting profit before safety during a hearing on two fatal commercial airline crashes involving the 737 Max which saw the aircraft grounded worldwide. The company’s CEO admitted that ‘mistakes’ had been made but said it was working hard to change the way it works.

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