Navy inspecting Boeing jets after 'cracks' found

The US navy will inspect hundreds of fighter jets built by Boeing after discovering “fatigue cracks” on more than a dozen aircraft deployed overseas.

The service issued an inspection alert late on Thursday for all 636 Hornet aircraft to reduce any safety risk to pilots and the planes. The attack aircraft designed for the Navy and Marine Corps cost roughly $57-million each.

Each Hornet will be inspected to check for cracks in a hinge that connects the aileron to the plane’s wing. Ailerons are flaps that control a plane’s banking movements and help to stabilise the aircraft in flight.

Failure of the hinge could “result in loss of [the] aileron,
possible further damage to the aircraft, or possible loss of the aircraft,” according to the navy.

Most of the inspections are expected to be completed within the next few weeks. The service plans to stagger its inspections and repairs to spare disruptions of any missions, navy spokesperson Lieutenant Clayton Doss said on Friday. The service will then decide whether to ground planes or restrict flights.

The first crack was discovered during a routine flight inspection.

There are 112 Hornets deployed on carriers worldwide, including in the western Pacific and the Arabian Sea. The planes affected have flown between 5 000 and 7 500 flight hours.

Boeing representatives did not return calls for comment on Friday afternoon.

Shares of the aerospace manufacturer fell $1.08 to $45.44 in afternoon trading. - Sapa-AP

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