Between 2000 and 2011, as the number of NG series in the air grew to more than 2,000, I identified 13 directives that specifically concerned cracking and fatigue issues in the model’s fuselage.
The article focuses on potential issues with the aft pressure bulkhead:
But the most alarming alert concerned involved a repeatedly troubled area called the aft pressure bulkhead (the rear portion of the cabin). In an Airworthiness Directive dated Nov. 5, 2001, the agency called for “immediate corrective action” to deal with a flaw in the aft pressure bulkhead [...] Four airlines had discovered, during checks, that if a 737 made a hard landing, damaging the main landing gear, or simply a certain kind of hard landing that led to shimmying, involving violent swerves on the runway (not uncommon in turbulent weather), the forces transmitted from that impact would end up damaging the aft pressure bulkhead, fatally jeopardizing the tailfin.
There were five alerts about problems with this bulkhead. [Prof. Tony] Ingraffea, after looking at the [details], told me in an email: “Skin cracking and aft bulkhead problems are clearly chronic.” [...] In a written memo to Newsweek, Boeing claimed that to say that there were “persistent problems” with the bulkhead is “not correct” but did not elaborate.
Based on the number of ADs (and any other relevant information), is Newsweek accurate in claiming that the 737 is more susceptible to stress fatigue than other, similar aircraft? Is the number of ADs for this issue unusual? Is there any measurably higher risk associated with flying in a 737 because of this issue?