The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has ordered inspections be carried out on 25 Airbus A380s after cracks were found in the wings.
A notice of a proposed airworthiness directive (AD) dated July 5 and posted on the EASA website said there had been reported occurrences of cracks in the wing outer rear spar top and bottom flanges.
“This condition, if not detected and corrected, could reduce the structural integrity of the wing,” the notice said.
The notice said Airbus planned to issue a service bulletin with inspection instructions to address this potential unsafe condition.
The inspection regime required phased-array ultrasonic testing methods for the external wing box and ultrasonic testing methods for internal wing box.
“This AD is considered an interim action, limited to the 25 oldest wing sets,” the notice said.
“Based on inspection findings, further AD action may follow to address additional in-service aeroplanes.”
The notice said the inspections had to be carried out within 180 months of the wing box assembly date, or within 147 months since the Airbus date of manufacture.
Further inspections would be required every three years.
The 25 aircraft were among the first A380s to roll off the production line and had manufacturer serial numbers (MSN) 0006 to 0017, 0019 to 0023, 0025 to 0027 and 0029, 0033, 0034, 0038 and 0040.
Based on production records, nine are with Emirates, six are with Singapore Airlines, six are with Qantas, two are with Air France, one is with Lufthansa and one is with Hi Fly.
An Emirates spokesperson told the Gulf News inspections on the affected aircraft had commenced.
“We are aware of the proposed EASA directive, and have already scheduled and begun conducting the additional inspections on those aircraft identified,” the spokesperson said.
“So far, there has been nothing untoward in the findings.”
A Singapore Airlines spokesperson told Channel News Asia the airline was working through he inspections.
“The safety of our customers and crew is of utmost priority, and we will ensure that we are in full compliance with the inspection requirements,” the Singapore Airlines spokesperson said.
Qantas told AirlineRatings it was conducting the necessary checks well in advance of the required timeframes.
“We have completed inspections on two aircraft and there were no concerns with the structural integrity of the wing,” Qantas head of engineering Chris Snook said.
An Airbus spokesperson told the Reuters news agency the ongoing safe operation of the A380 was not affected by the AD.
“We confirm that small cracks have been found on the outer rear wing spars of early production A380 aircraft. We have identified the issue and designed an inspection and repair scheme,” the Airbus spokesman said.
There were also cracks discovered on the A380 wings in 2012, when issues were discovered with the aircraft’s wing rib feet.