Operators of some early-production A380 superjumbos will have to check aircraft for potential wing cracks, after the manufacturer said that small cracks had been found on outer rear wing spars.

The directive will initially affect 25 older A380s operated by Emirates, Qantas and Singapore Airlines.

The aircraft will not be grounded, but will undergo checks during schedule maintenance.

A directive issued by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency said:

“Occurrences have been reported of finding cracks in the affected areas of the wing ORS on in-service A380 aeroplanes.

“This condition, if not detected and corrected, could reduce the structural integrity of the wing.

“To address this potential unsafe condition, Airbus plans to issue the SB to provide inspection instructions.

“For the reason described above, this AD requires repetitive special detailed inspections (SDI) of the affected areas, by using phased-array ultrasonic testing methods for 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. Based on inspection findings, further AD action may follow to address additional in-service aeroplanes.”

A total of 14 carriers fly the A380: Air France, ANA, Asiana, British Airways, China Southern Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Korean Air , Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways.

Earlier this year Airbus announced it will stop production of the A380 in 2021, following Emirates’ decision to reduce its outstanding orders for the superjumbo.