Painting Scratches Led To Cracked Boeings

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A new paint job might seem like the least likely of suspects to cause structural problems in aircraft but at least 32 Boeing 737s, four 747s and seven 757s are being examined for fatigue cracks that might result from procedures specific to the painting process. The Townsville (Australia) Bulletin reported this week that "scribe lines" from metal tools used in the painting process led to a two-foot crack in a fuselage strap on a Qantas 747. The crack was discovered by engineers working on the plane. The other 41 aircraft have the scribe lines but there's no mention of cracks. Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) told the FAA about the potential problem and a worldwide alert was issued. CASA spokesman Peter Gibson told the Bulletin an Airworthiness Directive might follow the alert.