An EASA proposal related to air worthiness directive of Airbus A380 aircraft requires the operators of early A380 models to inspect the planes for wing cracks after similar occurrences have been reported to the manufacturer.
Despite the serious sounding reason for the inspections, the aircraft type won’t be grounded but rather undergo checks during scheduled maintenance.
The proposal issued by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) outlines:
- “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.”
Here is the entire document:
Aircraft affected by this measure are operated by Emirates, Qantas and Singapore Airlines. In the case of Qantas the six aircraft affected by this represent 50% of their entire A380 fleet and they will start to inspect them from June 2020 onward. The only saving grace is that at this point no plane has to be taken out of regular service.
When you hear something like ‘wing cracks’ that sends of alarm bells for laymen. EASA and Airbus would not allow this inspection to take place during regular maintenance as far as a year away if there was imminent danger. It doesn’t sound great from a PR perspective though.
The remaining 19 A380s that aren’t operated by Qantas belong to Emirates and Singapore Airlines. SIA has already retired their oldest A380.