“Minor cracks” discovered in A380 wings

written by australianaviation.com.au | January 6, 2012
Minor cracks have been discovered in the wings of some Airbus A380s. (Andrew McLaughlin)

What Airbus describes as “minor cracks” have been discovered in the wings of several of its flagship A380 superjumbo jets.

The affected aircraft include the Qantas aircraft, VH-OQA, that suffered a mid-air engine explosion after taking off from Singapore in November 2010.

Both Qantas and Airbus say the cracks do not present a safety risk. Qantas took delivery of its 12th A380 last month.

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In a statement, Airbus said the cracks had been discovered on “some non-critical wing rib-skin attachments on a limited number of A380 aircraft.”

The planemaker said it had informed airlines operating the A380 of the discovery cracks, which were uncovered first in VH-OQA while it was undergoing repairs in Singapore. The cracks do not require immediate action because they pose no safety risk, Airbus said, and the company is recommending measures to address the problem as part of regularly scheduled maintenance. Airbus said European safety regulators had approved the policy.

However, a top official with the Australian Licensed Engineers Association (ALAEA) called on CASA to order an inspection of all A380s.

“We’ve got problem with our regulator in Australia,” ALAEA federal secretary Steve Purvinas told the ABC. “They tend to follow the lead of the two big regulators, that is the American one and the European one, and they tend to be driven by the commercial interests of both Airbus and Boeing.”

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The 525-seat A380 began deliveries in 2007. Sixty-seven of the aircraft are now in service with seven airlines, and Airbus has 243 orders from 18 carriers.

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