Weeks after aircraft manufacturer Airbus assured that cracks found in the feet of the wing-rib attachments of five A380s posed no risks to passengers, more cracks were reportedly found last week on others of the superjumbos, prompting European Union safety regulatory body European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to issue an Airworthiness Directive requiring immediate inspection of Airbus A380 aircraft.
The directive orders carriers to carry out Detailed Visual Inspections (DVIs) of the wings of 20 A380s – almost a third of the 67 aircraft in operation today. According to the EASA directive, after finding cracks on one A380 wing, “inspections were carried out on a number of other aeroplanes where further cracks have been found.” During the checks, a second, more serious type of crack was discovered which “may develop on other aeroplanes after a period of time in service.”
“This condition, if not detected and corrected, could potentially affect the structural integrity of the aeroplane,” stated the directive.
Consequentially, from January 24, 2012, onwards aircraft that have completed more than 1300 flights will have to be inspected within six weeks while those aircraft that have completed more than 1800 flights will have to be checked within four days, by January 28, 2012.
The inspection process is expected to take each the jets out of service for 24 hours.
The EASA also stated that it was working closely with Airbus to establish a “repair scheme if cracks are found during the inspection.”
Singapore Airlines has confirmed with Business Traveller that repairs were carried out at the end of last year on its A380s on which cracks were found. Qantas has also been identified in the media as another airline flying the A380 affected by the issue. Cracks have been reportedly found on some of Emirates A380s but the carrier has declined to offer any detail.
Other carriers currently operating the superjumbo are Lufthansa, Air France, Korean Air and China Southern.
Alisha Haridasani and Tiffany Sandrasageran