Airport workers in western Japan found a 28-inch fracture in the fuselage of a China Airlines Boeing 737-800 weeks after a similar plane flown by the company exploded at another Japanese airport, an official said Friday.
China Airlines maintenance workers discovered the hairline crack near the tail of the jet during a routine post-flight inspection Thursday afternoon at Saga Airport on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, Transport Ministry official Rui Mitsuma said. Japanese aviation officials launched an investigation, Mitsuma said.
The fracture was found about 30 minutes before the plane's scheduled departure for a return trip to Taiwan's capital, a China Airlines spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity, citing company policy.
The airline sent another plane from Taipei to pick up the flight's 49 passengers, who more than five hours behind schedule Thursday evening, she said.
On Aug. 20, a China Airlines Boeing 737-800 that landed at Okinawa's Naha airport exploded in a fireball at a gate seconds after all 157 passengers and eight crew safely evacuated. Investigators found a bolt on the right wing slat had come loose and pierced a fuel tank, causing fuel to gush out and catch fire.
Boeing officials could not immediately be reached for comment.