Airbus 380 safety checks extended
Europe's air safety watchdog has extended a mandatory inspection order to all Airbus 380s that have completed more than 1,300 flights.
The move comes after Singapore Airlines and Qantas found cracks in the wings of their A380s.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said 68 aircraft operated by Emirates, China Southern Airlines and another four carriers were to be checked for wing cracks which it feared could lead to structural problems for the aircraft.
Inspections were ordered on about 20 of the older A380s in service on January 20.
In an e-mail to the South China Morning Post, Singapore Airlines spokesman Nicholas Ionides said the airline ran checks on brackets within the wings of eight of its A380s and found cracks on every aircraft.
Repairs were made and all eight aircraft are back in service.
Two of its remaining seven A380s were now being inspected and the remaining five would be inspected once they had completed 1,300 flights, as required by the new directive from the EASA, Ionides added.
Airbus, meanwhile, has insisted that hairline cracks found on the 'wing rib feet', which attach the wing skin to the brackets, were not an immediate threat to safety and did not compromise the airworthiness of the aircraft.
'This is not a fatigue cracking problem,' said Tom Williams, Airbus vice-president, when the first checks were announced last month. He blamed the cracks on design and manufacturing issues instead.
The two A380s newly-delivered to China Southern Airlines that have accumulated fewer than 500 flights do not need to go through the inspection for now, industry portal CARNOC.com reported. China Southern will take delivery of its third A380 in March and will deploy the jumbo jet on its Beijing-Hong Kong route from March 2.
Qantas, which has a fleet of 12 A380s, said it needed to inspect only three aircraft over the next year after finding cracks in two planes, including one previously grounded following an engine explosion.
Korean Airlines has inspected its five planes and found no cracks.