x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Emirates to check A380 fleet after new wing crack reports

Carrier says fleet remains airworthy despite reports that cracks have been found on a wing component of A380 aircraft.

An Emirates Airlines A380 Airbus takes off in Dubai.
An Emirates Airlines A380 Airbus takes off in Dubai.

Emirates says its fleet of A380 superjumbo passenger jets remain airworthy despite reports emerging that more cracks have been found on a wing component in recent inspections on this type of aircraft.

It is not known in which airline's aircraft the new cracks were found. The Reuters news agency is citing industry sources that the new cracks are different from the two types of cracks discovered within weeks of each of other on the same type of part inside the wing.

Airlines have until Friday to complete a first phase of tests for the most heavily used category of aircraft, with at least 1,800 take-offs and landings.

Airbus, the aircraft's manufacturer, insisted that the world's largest passenger plane is safe to fly.

European safety authorities ordered urgent inspections on just under a third of the superjumbo fleet last week after two types of cracks were found in an L-shaped bracket inside the wing.

Since then, similar cracks have been found inside the 9,100-square-foot wing of at least one of the superjumbos examined under the directive, industry sources said.

The latest findings came as it emerged that cracks on a bracket in another part of the wing were discovered two years ago.

The problem was documented at the time but went unnoticed outside the industry.

Airbus said on Tuesday this was a different issue from the latest flaws and had been resolved.

There are 2,000 brackets in each wing, which is constructed around a rib cage and attached to the wing's skeleton with brackets known as rib feet. The most recent cracks surfaced in this type of bracket.

The crack spotted in 2010 showed up on a bracket in part of the wing specially designed to help the huge airliner climb more steeply at take-off and obey noise restrictions.

"We have clear evidence that the airworthiness process is working," a spokesman for the EADS EAD.PA subsidiary was quoted by Reuters.

"An issue has been found, we reported it, we made a recommendation to our customers, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) made it mandatory and the inspection and fix if necessary are both under way."

Today Emirates restated it position that it was fully complying with EASA's request for checks.

"The directive poses no impact on Emirates operations," said the statement.

"The aircraft remain fully airworthy and pose no risk to flight safety as affirmed by EASA and Airbus. The safety of our passengers and crew is our highest priority."

nhanif@thenational.ae