It's been a rough week for Boeing as its CEO was grilled by a Senate committee about deadly issues with the company's 737 Max jets and told to quit by the mother of a crash victim. And Thursday didn't make it any better: Boeing announced cracks had been found in up to 50 of its 737NG planes, precursors to the 737 Max that have now been grounded, reports AFP. The Federal Aviation Administration ordered immediate checks on 737NG planes that had flown more than 30,000 times after Boeing reported an issue with the part that connects the wing to the fuselage, known as the "pickle fork." Qantas then said it had found cracks in an aircraft with fewer than 27,000 flights, which airlines had been given more time to inspect, per Reuters. Inspections on another 32 of its 737NG planes are to wrap up by Friday.
A total of 38 737NG planes required repairs out of 810 inspected as of Oct. 9, per CNN. A Boeing rep now says less than 5% of 1,000 inspected planes have been grounded. Korean Air owns five of nine planes grounded in South Korea. Southwest has grounded at least two jets, while Brazilian carrier GOL has grounded 11. Qantas' head of engineering sought to ease fears in noting that a crack "does not immediately compromise the safety of the aircraft." However, the FAA explains cracks "could adversely affect the structural integrity of the airplane" and cause loss of control, per Reuters. A Boeing rep says the company is "working around the clock" to fix the issue, including by providing "parts and technical support as necessary." There are about 6,800 737NG jets in service around the world. (Read more Boeing 737 stories.)