Boeing 737NG aircraft are currently being checked for cracking in the "pickle fork" assembly that attaches the fuselage to the wings. The affected joint has 4 fasteners that attach the fork to the wing. It's intended mostly to resist shear loads, as the fuselage twists relative to the wing. Boeing's inspection data is available at the FAA. That includes this image: Boeing inspection image

There is much discussion of this problem at the pilot's forum pprune.org Someone there states that the fasteners are meant to be an interference fit in holes that have been reamed and cold worked, and that the cracks have occurred because holes were drilled 6 thou oversize.

  • Why would this arrangement - 2 large fasteners and 2 small fasteners - have been chosen?

  • Boeing refer to the small fastener area as the "fail-safe strap". In what way might this be regarded as fail-safe?

  • Where is it appropriate to use interference fit fasteners in these specially prepared holes?

  • Why would drilling the holes oversize lead to the observed cracking?

  • $\begingroup$ A large team of engineers worked on huge amounts of data to come up with the design - we don't have that data... $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Nov 7, 2019 at 12:18
  • $\begingroup$ @SolarMike Indeed, But you know there is always a guy who comes up with brilliant and surrealistic ideas in this community, I prepared some popcorn, you can join me and watch :) $\endgroup$
    – user14407
    Nov 7, 2019 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ In what material are the cracks occurring ? ( aluminum , titanium, steel ?). $\endgroup$ Nov 7, 2019 at 16:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think another very important point is : How were the holes cold worked and what quality assurance is done? $\endgroup$ Nov 7, 2019 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ I think the parts are aluminium alloy of some sort. Clearly, QA would have been inadequate, were the holes oversize. But, why would an interference fit, with cold worked holes, be chosen? $\endgroup$
    – emrys57
    Nov 7, 2019 at 16:58


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