Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair has withdrawn three of its Boeing 737-800 aircraft from service after the discovery of cracks located between the aircraft’s fuselage and wing.

An investigation by UK news outlet The Guardian said three of the aircraft, which are part of its all-737-800 fleet of around 450 aircraft, had “pickle fork cracks” of the airframe structure designed to strengthen the connection between the aircraft’s wing and body.

Beforehand, Ryanair had refused to disclose the number of aircraft impacted by the issue, and stated last week it did not expect impact on its operations or fleet availability. Other 737NG operators, such as US carrier Southwest Airlines and Australian airline Qantas, recently revealed the number of aircraft they had grounded.

In late September, Boeing alerted operators of all 737NG variants that it had notified the FAA of cracking on the left and right-hand side outboard chords of the station 663 frame fitting and failsafe straps.

Following the findings, the FAA issued an airworthiness directive that came into effect in early October for high-time models above 30,000 flight cycles to be inspected within one week. Inspections on aircraft operating between 22,600 and 30,000 flight cycles were ordered to take place within a seven-month timeframe.

James Pozzi, James.pozzi@aviationweek.co.uk