Friday, 20 January 2012

More A380 Woes

An Airbus A380 superjumbo jet

Wing cracks on the A380 have grounded some of the super jumbo aircraft.Airbus has insisted the double-decker plane, used by Emirates and Qantas airlines among others, is safe to fly.

However, European aircraft safety authorities have ordered the checks on nearly a third of the A380 fleet in service.

Hairline cracks were discovered on the wings on a number of "non-critical" brackets known as "rib feet" inside the wings during routine inspections, Airbus said.

Similar flaws were spotted earlier this month during the repair of the Qantas aircraft which suffered an engine blow-out after taking off from Singapore in November 2010.

The latest cracks have been described as more significant and it is believed that mainly A380s run by Singapore Airlines and Emirates were affected.

But Airbus's Justin Dubon told Sky News that with more than 2,000 such brackets in each wing - a total of 4,000 per plane - cracks on a small number of rib feet would not affect wing performance.

He added that the cracks were a result of the manufacturing process and not caused in flight.

Airbus aircraft are manufactured in pieces in its engineering centres across Europe and assembled in Toulouse - the wings are assembled in the UK, in the Cheshire town of Broughton.

The European Aviation Safety Agency has issued an order for A380 aircraft which have completed 1,800 flight cycles - take-off and landing - to be visually inspected by January 28.

Planes which have completed between 1,300 and 1,799 flight cycles are required to have the checks within the next six weeks.

With many of the A380 delivered to airlines recently, some of the aircraft which need repairs may still be under a manufacturer's warranty.

The world's largest jetliner, which has two floors and can carry up to 853 passengers, entered service in October 2007 with Singapore Airlines.

The A380 costs $390m (£251m) on average after Airbus announced a price increase on Wednesday.

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