Tiny cracks have been discovered in the wings of a number of Airbus A380 superjumbo jets. A total of 25 early-production A380 aircraft requiring inspection have been identified. The planes up for inspection belong to Qantas (apparently the first to become aware of the issue), Air France, Lufthansa, Singapore Air and Emirates.
Forbes.com contacted the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) concerning the reported wing cracks. According to an EASA spokesperson, the issue concerns “what to date has been the discovery of relatively minor cracking in the outer wing spars of the A380.”
In response, EASA published a proposed Airworthiness Directive (AD) that would mandate inspections that Airbus will announce in a service bulletin. According to EASA, “Initially the first 25 aircraft will be inspected and the data from those inspections will be further analyzed. Any aircraft found with cracking will be repaired and returned to service…The measures being taken ensure the safety of the fleet.” Initial inspections and repairs are expected to be scheduled during the heavy maintenance checks that take place after 12 years in service. The EASA spokesperson said that there should not be a significant impact on normal operations.
An Airbus spokesperson confirmed that “small cracks have been found on the outer rear wing spars of early production A380 aircraft. We have identified the issue, and have designed an inspection and repair scheme. We are supporting the EASA decision to issue an airworthiness directive…to inspect the first 25 aircraft in operation.”
Forbes.com contacted the five affected A380 operators. Qantas, Emirates and Air France all responded; Lufthansa and Singapore Air did not.