Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

Emirates inspects A380 planes after European regulator asks airlines to check wings for cracks

Airline says its fleet is made up of newer models unaffected by the directive

An Emirates Airbus A380 at Dubai International. The airport is now operating a major solar energy system. EPA
An Emirates Airbus A380 at Dubai International. The airport is now operating a major solar energy system. EPA

Emirates, the biggest operator of Airbus A380s, is inspecting some of its superjumbos after European aviation regulator instructed airlines operating 25 of the older models to check the wings for possible cracks.

The Dubai airline said on Tuesday its inspections of nine of those aircraft have so far not revealed any issues. Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways said its fleet of 10 A380s are newer models and are not affected by the directive from the European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa).

"We are aware of the proposed Easa directive and have already scheduled and begun conducting the additional inspections on those aircraft identified," an Emirates spokeswoman said. "So far, there has been nothing untoward in the findings."

Airbus said the safety of the aircraft is not affected.

"We confirm that small cracks have been found on the outer rear wing spars of early production A380 aircraft," an Airbus spokeswoman said. "We have identified the issue and designed an inspection and repair scheme."

The French plane maker has informed its customers and is working with them.

The inspections need to be conducted within 15 years following the initial wingbox assembly, Airbus said.

Easa said some cracks have been found on the wings of some superjumbos. The aviation regulator proposed an airworthiness directive related to the issue. "This condition, if not detected and corrected, could reduce the structural integrity of the wing," it said.

Airlines should use ultrasonic testing methods for the external wing box and internal wing box, it said. If a crack is detected before the plane's next flight, the carrier must contact Airbus for approved repair instructions. The checks and repairs can be done as part of scheduled heavy maintenance programmes conducted by airlines.

Easa's directive covers part of the outer wing on the 25 oldest aircraft, some of which were assembled in August 2004.

"Our A380s are newer models, and not affected by this directive," an Etihad Airways spokesman said. "The first of our 10 [jets] was delivered in December 2014."

Airbus faced a wing crack problem in 2012 that cost it millions of euros in repair and service costs.

Earlier this year, the manufacturer said it would stop making the double-decker, which is world's biggest passenger plane and popular with customers, after Emirates scrapped part of its A380 order.

Updated: July 11, 2019 02:26 AM

SHARE

SHARE